- Acsess every drawer, cupboard, closet, box, and other storage space to see how much clutter it contains. Decide whether to keep or give away each piece of furniture. For example, you will look through every drawer and cupboard in your kitchen and make a snap judgment about its contents. You might decide everything in the drawer is useful; you might realize most of the items are junk.
After this step you'll know which rooms are most cluttered and which have avoided this problem. Ask yourself, do I really need this Christmas decoration? When was the last time I used this obscure appliance?
Secondly, you can start with the most cluttered rooms and work your way down the list to the easiest room. Or, if you have to do your decluttering between work and other obligations, you will at least know which room you can likely tackle in the time you have available.
The Ground Rules
1. Don't get sentimental. As you go through boxes of paperwork, old clothes, holiday decorations, and other memories, you can't stop to reminisce over every item. The idea is to make quick judgments so you finish the job fast.
2. Recruit a friend. If you're worried about maintaining a fast pace and not getting side-tracked, ask a friend to keep you on task. You can even turn it into a game if that will motivate you to work harder. Plus, two sets of eyes can look over twice as many items in half the time it would take you alone.
3. Have a system of marking larger items you don't want. During your initial evaluation, you should also decide whether you will keep each piece of furniture. For items you decide to get rid of, you can mark them with sticky notes, make a list, or use another system. Choose the method that makes sense to you.
4. You can only keep what you know you will use. When it comes time to make item-by-item judgments, set criteria for determining an item's usefulness. For instance, you might throw out or give away all non-seasonal items you haven't used in 6 months or a year. You can allow yourself some sentimental items, but be sure to limit yourself and be practical (i.e. don't save all your outdated college textbooks just because).
The Room-by-Room Checklists Get ready to examine your house's clutter! Use these room-specific checklists in the order that makes sense for your house.
1. Evaluate the contents of every cupboard and drawer.
2. Look through your dishes, cutlery, and cookware. Do you have incomplete sets you could leave behind?
3. Look over your appliances. Consider whether they still work and how recently you used each one.
1. Look through your closet. Are any rarely used items hiding in corners?
2. Open every drawer. Are its contents useful, or has it become a catch-all for less important items?
3. Check under the bed.
4. Decide if you have any furniture, art, rugs, or lamps that you no longer need/want.
1. Evaluate the contents of each drawer, cupboard, and cabinet.
1. Make a "take it or leave it" judgment about every furnishing.
2. If furniture has drawers or storage spaces, examine their contents.
3. Evaluate the level of clutter in game closets, coat closets, and linen closets.
Whatever your home's main storage area is, that room is likely to take you the longest. Allot yourself 15-20 minutes if you think you'll need it. Open every box to get a general idea of its contents. Don't start sorting through individual items. Also, make sure labels on boxes match their contents. You should also make quick judgments about the numerous other items in these spaces—old furniture, tools, bicycles, etc.
Declutter When You Move
After these quick room-by-room evaluations, you will know the scope of the decluttering project before you. Armed with that knowledge, you can declutter with a goal in mind: your new, clutter-free home. You'll be glad you made the effort when you move in, unpack, and realize you have storage space to spare.
Call me if you'd like me to help you declutter!
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