Okay, you’re ready to get organized. Congratulations making the commitment is sometimes the toughest part of the challenge. Equally important is taking steps to ensure your success. The most important thing you can do is have a plan. It doesn’t have to be a complicated plan, but it is important to have a plan that guides you so that when you hit a rough spot you know what to do and in the end succeed in your endeavor. Listed below are some basic actions you can take that will keep you on track for a successful project!
Set Realistic Goals
No matter how many rooms or how much clutter you have to get through, starting with specific goals will help you create a plan that will reduce any frustration as you go. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started decluttering your home:
- Write down or make a map of all the rooms and ‘clutter hot-spots’ you want to tackle.
- Give each space a grade based on the severity of the clutter. That grade can be a letter grade (A through F) or a numerical scale. For example, on a scale of 1 – 3 (3 being the most cluttered), a particularly messy room or closet would get a 3. This will help you prioritize your time.
- Do one room or one space at a time.(I can’t stress this enough – don’t attempt multiple spaces at once!)
- Set completion dates for each phase of your cleanup. Be sure to pick dates that are attainable so you don’t get frustrated. If you make it into a declutter challenge for yourself, it may feel a bit more like a game.
- In addition to completion dates, you should plan time to work on specific areas when you expect decluttering those spaces to take longer than a few hours, such as a basement or a garage.
Create An Effective Sorting System
As you go through the rooms and spaces in your house, you will need a system for sorting the items you find. You can create your own method, or you can use the popular Three-Box Method of sorting clutter. This method forces you to make a decision item by item, so you don’t end up with a bigger mess than the one you started with.
Gather three boxes or storage bins, label them as follows: Keep, Donate, Sell. There is actually a fourth box – garbage – I typically just have a large container or trash bag next to the three boxes.
As you go through each space each item goes in one of the three boxes or into the trash. You will empty each box when you have completed each space. The keep items are the items that are neatly returned to the space you are working – if necessary label where these items go or place them in bins or appropriate containers. If this is a larger storage area that you are organizing be sure to place the items in containers that you can easily identify items or label them so you know where to look.
An important note about the items you set aside to sell is to set a timeframe in which to sell them – if you haven’t taken action in that time period then simply donate the items to get them out of your space.
There are things to keep in mind when it comes to those items you are throwing out, donating or selling.
- Recycle: Recyclable glass, plastics and paper can go straight into your recycling bin if you have curbside pickup. Otherwise put your recyclables in bags so you can transport the waste to the nearest recycling drop off location. Many electronics can and should be recycled. Check with your local trash collector or your city or county department that handles waste and see what options are available.
- Donate or Upcycle: You can rest easy knowing that something you no longer need is going to a good home. Clothes, shoes and other household items in good condition can be donated to a number of local charities. Your trash is truly another person’s treasure.
- Have a Garage Sale: If you’re up to the task, you may be able to make a little money off your clutter by having a garage sale. Check to see if your neighborhood or homeowner’s association has a designated garage sale date. Just make sure you begin your declutter process early enough so you can participate – you’ll get more foot traffic that way.
- Sell the items: There are many options to look at here – most depend on the effort you want to make and the potential value of the item. Some of the more common options are Ebay, Craig’s List, OfferUp, LetItGo and similar sites. What is important is set a time limit and if the item hasn’t sold then donate it to get rid of it. Many times when I have something to sell I do some research to see what similar items are going for – and if they are selling. If the effort isn’t worth the end result I usually just donate the item.
Allow plenty of time!
I’ll close by saying that allowing sufficient time for this process is a critical element to your success. This can be a time consuming process depending on the scale of your project. Remember if needed to seek out help (enlist support of family members or friends.) Know your physical limitations and have people to help.
Most importantly, start small and take on things in a manner that helps you to see progress and support your overall success. If you need to break the areas down into zones and determine how many zones by what you can complete in 30 minutes or less.