But getting rid of personal possessions can be a traumatic experience. If you’re having a tough time deciding what to keep and what to toss, we’ve put together some suggestions to help make the process easier and less painful.
Possessions should have actual value. That doesn’t mean each thing you own should have monetary value. It can also refer to cherished keepsakes or functional items. Here’s a clever way to determine intrinsic value. Imagine you’re preparing to evacuate in advance of a major hurricane. What things would you take with you? The answer to that single question will indicate an object’s true worth.
Start by filling up one trash bag. One of the most satisfying ways to make a dent in household clutter is to donate unwanted items to a local charitable organization. It will also make it easier to part with things each time you donate. Take a large trash bag and plop it in the middle of your closet and fill it full of clothing.
Try this trick. Every day for one week as you are getting dressed for the day, go through your closet and pull out one or two pieces you haven’t worn in the last few seasons. Chances are, if you forgot you had it, you probably won’t wear it.
Sort items by category. This organization technique is known as the four-box method. Pick a room and bring in four boxes, bins or containers of your choice. Label them as trash, give, keep and store. Go through the room and put each item into one of the containers. Then you’ll know exactly what to do once you’ve categorized everything in the room.
Finish each room before moving to the next. Now that you’ve donated, stored and trashed the things you don’t need or aren’t currently using, it’s time to organize the keepers. Now’s the time to install a closet organization system and make things neat and orderly with the help of an assortment of storage baskets, shelves, carts, bins and totes. Once you’re satisfied with results, you can move on to the next room.
Take your time and do it right. Clearing out clutter may seem like quick project but it could take a lot longer than you think. Consider the emotions involved in parting with possessions. This alone can drag out the process. Here’s some sage advice: If you start getting weirded out, walk away for a while to clear your mind. Keep each work session at an hour to avoid feeling overwhelmed. If you estimate it will take a couple of days to sort through a room, give yourself double the amount of time so you don’t get discouraged.
Don’t take it all on yourself. No one says you have to tackle this all by your lonesome. Get the family involved—it may not speed up the process, but at least you’ll have moral support. Believe it or not, your better half may even have some input on how to organize the garage and basement.
While it’s probably much easier and quicker to unclutter without the kids around, it is important to get them involved. Your little wouldn’t be too happy if you went through their belongings and discarding things without consulting them first. It will also help develop their decision-making and organizational skills.
Reinforce positive habits. Don’t let clutter get the best of you by reinforcing positive behavior. By adopting good habits, your house will always look orderly and you’ll prevent clutter from accumulating.
This may seem overly obsessive but it works like a charm. Find a spot for each and every item you own. For instance, institute a routine to follow each time you return home. Install a wall hook by the door for your keys. Always place your purse or briefcase on a table next to the wall hook. Hang your jacket on a coat rack positioned conveniently near the door. You get the idea—create positive organizational habits to help keep the clutter at bay.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. How many people do you know that have impeccably organized closets, drawers and cabinets? That’s an impossible standard created by images in catalogs and magazines. Even after you’ve totally reorganized your home, it most likely won’t look like an ad for California Closets or The Container Store.
Don’t expect your home to look like it’s been styled for a magazine shoot. Perfection is a fine goal but one that’s difficult to achieve and maintain. Remember we’re mere humans that sometimes get messy and forget where things go. If it looks great to you and suits your needs then you’ve been successful in your efforts.
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