According to a recent NAR report, 95% of REALTORS recommend that sellers declutter their home before putting it on the market. So if you are trying to take advantage of the best time of year to sell or rent your home, preparing for visitors or just trying to achieved a lighter, stress free household, listen up!
In order to help clients, family, friends, and even myself organize and declutter, I follow a practical and methodical 4 step process that I want to share with you.
1. Declutter and organize by category, not by room.
More than likely you have similar things in different rooms. If you have small closets, you may have clothes or shoes in multiple places. The same goes for pots and pans, tupperware, bedding etc. So when you start with each group, search the entire house for those items in order to evaluate and make decisions based.
2. Ask yourself the following 3 questions when evaluating your belongings:
- Does it serve a function?
- Does it make me happy to own; give me enjoyment? Or does it make me stressed, annoyed, sad, angry?
- Do I have a similar item and do I need both/multiple? (Think less is more!)
The easiest items to evaluate with these questions are clothes and furniture. I recently, finally, donated a shirt that I have had in my closet for 2 years and only wore once. I loved the way it looked on the rack. I loved the colors and pattern. The material was soft and light. But each time I took it out and put it on, it didn't seem to quite fit my body correctly and the colors washed me out, so I would put it back in my closet. Finally one day I said, "why do I even have this?!" Yes, I had spent money on this shirt, however that money is gone, I don't receive it back each time I wear the shirt. Now the shirt is no longer in my closet and I no longer give any thought to the fact that I wasted money or that it doesn't look right.
Sometimes the situation calls for multiple questions to be asked. Take a broken table for example: it no longer serves it's original function. If you are handy and fix things often, then physically schedule a day on the calendar to fix it. If you plan on getting to it some day, but for now it is one of many on a list of planned projects that you look at every weekend and think "jeez I'm just so busy, I never have time for my projects", get rid of it. It brings you more stress now than it does joy. So what is the point of keeping it?
I realize you might say, "what about mementos and keepsakes?" Keepsakes do serve a function, they do make you happy, but you can't let yourself get bogged down by them. Don't keep every greeting card you receive or every picture from the age of film camera rolls. Sort, make scrap books, decide on one category of item to save from trips or special events (ticket stubs for example), but be particular and mindful about your choices. In 10 years, will it still be important to you?
3. Have patience.
It can take months to fully declutter your life and change your way of thinking about your belongings, it will NOT happen over night. Yes you can clean out multiple rooms in a day, but in order to be successful in keeping yourself organized and decluttered, you have to be open and willing to practice these new tactics and change your way of thinking.
4. Ask for help!
If you are not sure that you can truly go through your belongings and evaluate them subjectively, you are not alone. If you don't know where to start, you are not alone. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends, family and especially professionals. I would be happy to help your start, get back on track, or complete your decluttering process. I am just an email or phone call away!
Bonus tip: Storage solutions can be your friend or your foe! They can truly help you organize yourself, or they can just be a device to hide the clutter (think junk drawer.) Be mindful of how you are utilizing them.