How to De-Clutter Your Home for the New Year or Anytime
I am an Aries. Arians are the first sign in the Zodiac. Astrologically and astronomically it is the first thirty-degree arc beginning at the point of the Spring Equinox. My Native American animal guide is butterfly which represents rebirth and new beginnings.
Between my astrological sign and my spirit guide, I am all about the rebirth and new beginning of things.
I always look forward to the new year because that’s just what it is, new! New year, new job, new diet, new outlook, so many new and exciting things await each of us. This year is no different.
This year, hubby and I are renovating the cabin. We actually started last year; however, the bulk of the renovation will be this year.
While we are in renovation-mode, I have decided to do the "D" word! That's right. De-clutter and organize the cabin. What a better time than to de-clutter while renovating. Out with the old and organize the rest.
The De-cluttering and Organizing Professional
Now, it’s obvious that this subject has been written and discussed over and over again. Am I tired of seeing it? Absolutely not!
There are some wonderful articles out there about de-cluttering and organization, and a great many of them are written by organizational professionals. I have read a few of them myself and have been inspired with many wonderful ideas on organizing my home, office, and car.
Now, let me be very clear, I am not a professional organizer and never claimed to be one; however, I do claim to own a home, love a clean and organized home and love to de-clutter my home, office, and car when it is needed.
I have to admit that I used to be a “what if” kind of gal. You know the type, “What if I will need these 15 year old papers someday”, “What if I know someone who has a friend who has a sister that just had a baby boy who might need my ex-husband’s old baseball glove?” I think most of you, if not all of you know exactly what I mean. Don’t you?
Here's the clincher. You do not need to be a professional organizer to de-clutter and organize your home! All you need is the desire to have a clean home and wa-la, you are an organizer! It's awesome to get ideas from others because that can inspire you with ideas for your own home.
How do you know if your are organizing correctly, keeping or discarding the right things, using the right storage containers, etc?
The answer is: Because everyone’s home is different, there is no wrong way in getting yourself de-cluttered and organized. The important thing is that you are doing it!
With that being said, there are less stressful ways to go about it and that is what you should be taking away from the professionals and others who have organized for years. Hopefully my ideas and tips will motivate and help you in what you want to accomplish.
You Have What it Takes to De-clutter
Isn’t it amazing just how much we accumulate over the years? Sometimes, my “catch-all” room needs a “catch-all” room!
Cleaning our home is pretty much second nature to us. But, de-cluttering can be a little stressful, especially to those who like to hold on to things. So I’m here to offer my advice and experience in the way I de-clutter my home and have also helped friends and clients to do the same. First, take some gasoline and a match….. just kidding… Wow.. I could hear your gasps all the way through my computer!
The first thing I do is to make sure I have everything I need for my de-cluttering. I make a list of the items I will need and then cross them off the list as I gather them in the first area or room I will be de-cluttering and organizing. Keep in mind that my list may not be the same as your list. My boxes may be different colors, shapes or sizes. But most of the supplies are standard to assist you in your de-cluttering adventure!
first, I make sure I have the following before I start:
- Index cards, post-its, or paper, labels (your preference).
- Scissors (optional).
- Black marker.
- Trash and recycle bags.
- Six empty tote bins (lids not needed).
Second, I make a list of the areas I need to de-clutter and organize.
As you go through your home, keep in mind that you need to focus on one area at a time. Don't allow yourself to try and tackle the whole house at once. This can be very overwhelming, exhausting, and frustrating. Not to mention, you will feel as if you are not getting anywhere.
I like to start with the closets and shelves, including medicine cabinets. This way, once those areas are cleared and ready for organizing, you will have space to store items when you de-clutter other areas of your house.
De-Clutter and Away We Go!
Okay folks.. It’s time to D-E-C-L-U-T-T-E-R!!
You will need the following:
- 6 Plastic Tote Bins (If they have lids, they will not be used at this time)
- Magic Marker
- Index cards
- On two cards write the words “KEEP” and tape each card on the outside of two bins and put the bins in one area.
- On the next two cards, write the words “THROW AWAY” and “RECYCLE” and tape those two cards on two more bins and place those bins together in another area.
- On the last two cards, write the words “DONATE” and tape them on the last two bins and place those bins in a separate area as well.
Don't Overthink It
The whole idea is to be completely open-minded and honest with yourself and ask yourself 2 questions:
- Do I really need it?
- Can it be donated or recycled?
When you ask yourself “If you really need it”, be honest and realistic. Think about this:
- When was the last time I used it? (If more than 1 year, get rid of it)
- When would I ever need it again? (If more than 6 months, get rid of it)
- Are these papers worth keeping? (If they are not already filed or in a safety deposit box, chances are, you don’t need them. RECYCLE BIN!
- Once you have established if you don’t need it and before you throw it away, determine whether or not if it can be recycled or donated first.
See how easy it is? Don’t try to over analyze why you need to hold onto it or keep it or whether or not you should get rid of it. Go with your first thought and reaction. You will be surprised with how much “Stuff” you can unload with those simple questions.
Don’t be afraid to get rid of it! Cleansing and purging is good.
Remember, it’s all about the rebirth and new beginnings!
After the cleansing has taken place, it’s important to organize the remaining items you keep.
Who knows what that might be, but one thing to remember is to make sure you keep them clean, easy to access and don’t allow them to clutter up the area you just de-cluttered.
What Type of Tote Should I Use?
Tote bins that are available today come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, depending on your needs, decor, and space. I love tote bins to organize. My preference are those that are clear so I can actually see what’s in the box.
This saves a lot of time when I am searching for something specific.
I usually buy the totes with the snap on lids for a few of reasons:
a) Lids prevent God’s furry critters from getting inside.
b) Keeps the contents safe from water damage.
c) A little more stable for stacking.
Some of my items I place in totes are:
- My linens, such as table cloths, napkins, and place mats
- Craft supplies, such as paints and brushes, glue guns and glue sticks
- First Aid supplies
The possibilities are endless.
I like to store my totes in closets, under beds, and in the garage; pretty much out of sight. I don’t like when company comes over and I have 30 totes stacked from floor to ceiling in the living room. The operative word here is STORAGE; put away, unseen.
De-cluttering is healthy. When we have less clutter, we can focus on the important things in life, such as our family and ourselves, our minds become less cluttered because we know where things are, and last but certainly not least, it makes us feel better about our homes and ourselves. What more could you ask for?
I'm excited to do some de-cluttering this month. I hope you are too!
And remember…. HAVE FUN WITH IT!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Liz Rayen