Decluttering: Top Tips to Help You Organize Your Life

When a friend knocks on your door unexpectedly, is your first reaction one of embarrassment as you apologize for the mess as you invite them in? Do you have to move piles of clutter from the sofa before they (and you!) can sit down – and do you feel you would like to something about it, that you would like to welcome your friends with a smile into a tidy, attractive home?

You need to declutter! You can’t be organized if your home is a mess of clutter – you’ll waste time looking for daily essentials such as your keys or that piece of paper with an essential phone number on it. Clutter wastes your time and drains your energy.

Decluttering is not difficult – you just need to be practical and a little ruthless – and you’ll feel so much better and more in control of your life when it’s done. Follow these tips for the best chance of success:

Plan what you are going to do before you start. It’s generally not a good idea to start on a really large area such as the garage (this seems to be a magnet for clutter rather than being used to house a car!) as the sheer scale of the task will probably daunt you and you’ll give up before you’ve achieved very much.

Instead, start on a series of small, manageable areas, maybe something like a drawer or a set of shelves that attracts all sorts of clutter. Finishing one or more of these small areas will make you feel like you’ve achieved something, and give you the confidence and motivation to tackle larger areas.

Organize yourself before you start. Get yourself a supply of bags and boxes. Different colored bags can be useful for sorting your stuff into different categories. The usual way of sorting clutter is into four categories: keep, throw away, give away (or sell), and store, but you can devise your own method if this doesn’t work for you.

As you look at each thing, ask yourself if you really need it, really love it, or value it for sentimental reasons. Be ruthless, if you haven’t worn an item of clothing in the last year, are you really likely to wear it again? Keep clothes that fit you properly now, not ones that used to fit you when you weighed less or more.

Don’t put too many things in the ‘Store’ pile – it’s more than likely that once you’ve stored something then you’ll forget you’ve got it – out of sight really is out of mind. Ask yourself what you are actually storing these things for – will you ever need or use them again?

Make sure that the things in your ‘Giveaway’ pile are of sufficiently good quality to be donated to charity. You can also sell things from this category at car boot/yard sales or on eBay.

A good tip is to decide on a definite date that you are going to do this. If that date passes and you still haven’t sold them, then give the items to charity, otherwise, you’re likely to fall into the trap of just storing them and never getting round to selling them. The charity option is by far the quickest for clearing out stuff.

When you’ve got this far in your decluttering, think about how you’re going to organize the things you are keeping so that everything has a home. Analyze your storage needs – do you need more shelves, hooks, baskets, etc.?

Finally, once you’ve decluttered, don’t let it all build up again! Use the ‘something in, something out’ principle – if you acquire a new item, get rid of an old one.

Above all, make it fun – play some music while you’re working, and maybe get a friend in to help. The relief of having cleared out your clutter will be enormous. You should feel so much more organized and in control – and happy to invite people into your home!

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