A home filled with junk and clutter isn’t something that occurs overnight. It’s a gradual process that builds up over weeks, months, and years. It eventually gets to that day when you walk into your home and wonder when your house became so congested with stuff.
It’s a common problem. One study found that the average American home has an astounding 300,000 items. It’s highly unlikely that each of these is still useful or worth keeping. Yet, whereas the rationale for decluttering is simple, actually getting rid of junk can be an arduous and overwhelming task.
You are more likely to succeed in your decluttering project if you develop and follow a well-thought-out plan. Here are a number of tips to help you do just that.
1. Set Clear Goals
One of the reasons decluttering a home feels so overwhelming is the difficulty of just where to start. That’s especially because you don’t have a lot of free time on your hands away from work and taking care of the kids. It’s, therefore, vital that you start off by setting clear objectives.
Don’t try to do everything in a single day or weekend. That’s likely to be impractical and will only frustrate you if you fail to achieve your goal. Instead, break down your decluttering project into small, bite-sized targets. You could, for instance, tackle one room or closet at a time. For large junk-filled spaces like the garage, you could segment it into multiple sections and work on a section or two per weekend.
Have a pre-defined number of hours you devote to decluttering each day and stick to that. Working late into the night will only make the task seem bigger than it is and increase the chances of burnout.
2. Eject the Trash
Once you start decluttering, you’ll probably be shocked at just how much of the stuff in your home is useless garbage that serves no purpose whatsoever. You can save plenty of time by quickly throwing out this stuff at the start. With the trash out of the way, you will get a true sense of just how big your decluttering project is.
Take a number of trash bags and walk around your home filling them with all items you are certain you don’t need. These could include dead electronics, ripped clothing, broken toys, or large items like disused furniture.
Because this is a process you can do quickly and the extent of the total garbage may be sizeable, it’s best to hire a dumpster for this purpose. Many dumpster rental providers will deliver the dumpster to your home and pick it up a couple of days later for onward disposal. You can click here to learn about residential dumpster rental.
3. Categorize Everything Else
Once you get rid of the obvious garbage, it’s time to move to the painstaking process of inspecting and categorizing whatever remains. Of course, there are items that are obviously useful such as your current refrigerator, microwave, sofas, and beds so you can readily skip around these (or place them in the ‘retain’ category for clarity).
The categorization will largely focus on things that are somewhere between usefulness and redundancy. These items should fall in either one of four categories: trash, donate, relocate, and retain. As you go through every room of your home, every item should be tagged into one of these categories.
To help with decision-making around items that could fall in more than one category, develop a list of questions, e.g., is the item broken, useful, reusable, or sentimental?
4. Put an Expiry Date on What Remains
With the categorization complete, you can now take appropriate disposal action on items in the garbage, donation, and relocation. However, that doesn’t mean you are done with work on items in the retain/keep category as these will inevitably be the sources of future clutter. To make future clean up easier, put an expiry date on everything that remains.
For example, if you have an old desktop computer that contains a lot of your stuff, but you aren’t ready to get rid of it just yet, you could set its expiry date to 12 months. Within that time, you can acquire a new computer and sell the older one before it starts to gather dust in the garage due to lack of use.
Decluttering your home is exhausting and time-consuming work. But the psychological, space, and motivational benefits are more than worth it.