As much as I don't want to be a hoarder, I do tend to accumulate things. Diana has written a great guest post on how to declutter and clear away to give you that organised feeling we crave in the home. Enjoy!
Before you decide to bring something home to keep, ask yourself if you’ll eventually consider it as just another knickknack in your haystack of orphaned stuff. Yes, hoarding can be a rewarding compulsion, but living space is best reserved for the essentials. This is arguable if you have money to burn, but like novelty souvenirs, clutter is often something you can do without. As far as mementos go, a picture can paint a thousand words and will also occupy just a few megabytes of space.
Here are 7 tips to help you declutter your home and reclaim lost territory.
1. Define What Qualifies as Clutter
This is the hardest part, because recognizing something as clutter is accepting it doesn’t belong in your house. Decluttering is like spring cleaning, but often involves items with sentimental value.
You have to think of it as shedding skin--something has to go and make room for better things. If you can group stuff in piles of wants and needs, it can help you visualize how much room you’ll regain in the aftermath. Having clutter is like having an unassembled mess of IKEA furniture--you need to know when it’s time to move on and let it go.
2. Divide and Conquer
Decluttering the entire house can be overwhelming, so it’s best if you sort in sections, such as one cabinet or room at a time. Years of hoarded stuff blur the lines between what’s necessary, trivial, or disposable, and you may not have time to sort everything in one sweep.
3. Make the Most out of Reclaimed Space
Once you’ve regained space to spare, you need to organize things. It’s time to compartmentalize.
You’ll be amazed to see the space you’ll recover with proper storage. If you take pride in cramming stuff into a suitcase, then you can apply the same principle in decluttering. Who would’ve thought there’s plenty of storage space underneath the bed? This is also opportunity to think in terms of shelves and stacking boxes.
If you’re undecided regarding the usefulness of some items, it’ll help if you dedicate space for these. This will ease the transition.
Don’t let your recycling bin exceed maximum capacity, though. For example, you’ll get around to using that exercise ball, as you can and should exercise. In the meantime, let it sit in limbo while you muster up the courage to get off your bum.
5. Focus on the Task at Hand
When you’re decluttering, it’s best to have an honest assessment of your belongings. But you can’t declutter with a preoccupied mind. It impairs judgment and you may dispose stuff you need.
If a cluttered desk is evidence of a cluttered mind, then decluttering is a task you’ll botch with a distracted mind.
6. Keep the Fire Burning
Give yourself credit if you did great with the task, but realize that clutter will stack up if you’re not deliberate with future acquisitions. It’s a perpetual effort.
Learn from mistakes, and be ruthless when it comes to sorting out your stuff. You didn’t expect to receive two coffeemakers for your birthday? Re-gift one of them, preferably to an astronomically distant relative (re-gifting is a necessary evil when you receive unnecessary gifts).
You should also think things through before making each purchase. Do you want it or need it? Can you afford it?
7. Find Your Middle Ground
In your epic struggle against clutter, it’s possible you’ll end up becoming the hoarder’s worst nightmare: the minimalist. While this is in many ways a good thing, hoarding stuff has its fun side, when it’s done in a controlled and calibrated manner.
You’re justified in buying clothes and shoes for special occasions, in the same way anyone has the right to spend hours watching cat videos online. Just make sure you declutter often, or in the case of watching cat videos, close all those browser tabs when you’re finished.
Staying on top of clutter comes with a learning curve. Give yourself slack whenever you slide back to your hoarding habit. It takes time, but everything you decide to lose will be rewarded with roomier living space and a calmer spirit.
About the writer: Diana is a content writer for Zero Commission, an Australian real estate company that helps homeowners sell their houses while keeping the commission all to themselves. Their customers save on average $14,000. Learn more on their site.
Zero Commission’s blog is filled with how-to guides to help Australian homeowners sell their house fast. Check out articles like 5 Signs Your Home is Overpriced, 5 Feng Shui Tips to Sell Your House and How to Show Your House to Impress Buyers.