As I continue on my journey to live A Completely Balanced Life, I feel it’s time to clear out some of the clutter – literally and figuratively. Cleaning up the clutter will get rid of the old stuff in my life and help me create space for a new, more balanced life.
Clutter can affect our mood, relationships, stress level, finances and almost every aspect of our lives. You may waste time that could be spent doing other things, like exercising or fixing healthy meals, looking for papers or misplaced items. You may snap at your husband because he bought something you already own – you just can’t find it. That means you’re also spending money you didn’t need to spend.
And, what better time to clean than in the spring? With less clutter in your home, you will be able to see the basic areas in your life that need more work, and you’ll feel more motivated to get things done. You can let go of procrastination, indecision and resistance to change and focus on new possibilities and creating a clutter-free path to a more balanced life.
Here are some tips to help you clean out the clutter:
When I think of de-cluttering my entire house, it is overwhelming. I stare at all of the closets, kitchen cabinets and kids’ dressers. And then there’s the basement. And the garage.
You many want to start with one room so that you can feel a sense of accomplishment when it’s done. Go even smaller, and start by cleaning one drawer, one closet or one cabinet. Give yourself 10 or 15 minutes a day to clean and de-clutter just one area. Then, you can tackle a new area another day. You will be more likely to succeed in reaching the goals you set and feel more motivated to continue cleaning.
As you sort through things, evaluate them based on the following 5 actions:
- Donate it
- Sell it
- Trash it
- Display it
- Put it away
Then, use boxes or plastic containers to sort through the clutter. Label the containers with each of the five actions. Everything must go into one of these containers. Don’t let yourself be wishy-washy. Be strong! When you finish sorting, follow through on the actions. Put the trash items in the trash. Put away or display everything that has a place it belongs. You may need to store the donate and sell items until you are able to take them to the appropriate place.
Here are some guidelines to help you know which action to take as you sort:
I try to follow the one year rule. If I haven’t used it, worn it, touched it or seen it in a year or more, then I probably don’t need it. You can donate clothes, purses, totes or shoes that either you don’t wear or they don’t fit. Or, maybe they are just out of style or don’t look good on you anymore. You can also donate books, toys, electronics or small appliances that are rarely used but still in good condition. Not only will you be clearing out the clutter but you will also be giving back to others who can use the items.
Keep in mind that no one wants your trash. So if it doesn’t work, it’s dirty, broken or simply not in good condition, then throw it out.
The same rule applies to items you can sell. If you haven’t used it or needed it in the last year, you can sell it. You may have a good resale shop in your neighborhood, or you might have good luck with yard sales. If so, create a sell pile and try to get a little return on your investment. Once your yard sale is over, you may still be able to donate some of the unsold items that are in good shape.
If it’s broken or just plain grungy, throw it out. Go through magazines and newspapers and trash or recycle the ones that are more than a week old. Odds are you won’t get a chance to read them before they become old news. Throw out stained and torn clothes, holey socks and battered or broken-down shoes. Get rid of food and medicines that are out of date. Sort through any piles of papers and file what you need to keep and throw out the rest.
You may find some buried treasures as you clean up the clutter. Take those favorite photos and display them on the living room wall or on a side table. Put your kids’ artwork on a display board in the kitchen and rotate it out with new artwork every week or two. Showcase your grandma’s vase, a favorite jewelry box or a gift from your mom or spouse. The items that you love should have a place of prominence and will make you feel good every time you see them.
Put it away
Now, everything that you have left should be put away. Every item you own needs a place where it can “live.” As you clean and sort, you will most likely find that many items should be put away in a drawer or cabinet, or they may even belong in a different room in the house. If you establish a “home” for your all of your things, it makes it easier to keep the clutter from piling up.
You can also store items that you only use during certain seasons or part of the year. For instance, holiday decorations, winter coats, snowsuits, boots and sleds can be put away in an attic or storage closet so that they don’t contribute to clutter when they aren’t needed. The same goes for beach towels or pool toys that are only used during warm weather.
If everything has its own place to live, you can quickly put things away when they start creating clutter. The hard part may be getting the rest of your family to understand that they, too, can put things back where they found them. If you have any tips on how to accomplish that, please let me know!