Organizing & Decluttering
Spring is here… so that means Spring cleaning! How can you declutter, clean, and organize for good?
After helping hundreds of clients prepare their homes for sale, our team knows a thing or two about how to get your house in order – and fast.
Pick a Deadline
Let’s face it, most of us aren’t motivated enough by the reward of an organized house – otherwise, we would have done it a long time ago. That’s why you need a deadline. Going on a trip? That’s your reward for a well-kept home. Got a big party happening? Perfect. No deadline? How about a goal-based treat? A day at the spa, or a little shopping therapy. Make your deadline or reward something that sticks!
Do It Alone
If you’ve ever tried to purge, declutter, and organize with a partner or kids in tow, you know the pain. You have a clear path thought out, but the people who set themselves up to help end up distracting you or getting in the way. Worst of all is when they try to put back what you have removed! There is just no convincing a child under 10 that they don’t need 26 stuffed animals. Book a day and kick everyone out.
There is nothing worse than planning a time to purge and organize, only to realize you can’t find anything to put your stuff in. Don’t worry about buying more than you need. There will always be a use for an extra bin, and the rest you can give to the next poor soul who is organizing!
Before you begin, get your supplies together:
- Clear recycling bags
- Garbage bags
- Plastic bins – large, medium and small
- Sharpie Marker
- List of places to drop off or come pick your stuff and BOOK the date ahead of time to keep you on track!
- Organizers (we love the Skubb line of organizers from Ikea – more on that later!)
Decide How You Sort
Some people are ready to donate everything, some want to save items that are hardly worn or used for friends or family, while others might feel the need to store stuff to see if they miss it (don’t fall for this trap!).
We recommend the following categories:
- Throw Out (garbage bags)
- Donate (cardboard boxes or clear recycling bags if clothing or stuffed animals)
- Give (cardboard boxes)
- Put Away (bins and organizers)
Where to Start
Most people start to twitch at this stage. Where to begin? We like to get clients working on something small first – nothing overwhelming but quick enough that you start to see the results. Don’t start with a room, start with a CATEGORY.
Let’s use bathroom items as an example. You probably have stuff all of the house. Pull ALL of it out and put it in ONE pile on your dining table.
- First and most obvious, toss anything expired
- Organize by sub-category; shampoos, cosmetics etc.
- Select containers for your drawers and cupboards to sort by category
- Keep one of what you use and the rest can be put in another container for refills
What to Keep
When most people start organizing they keep focusing on what to throw away. Instead, you should focus on what to KEEP. In the words of Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, does the item spark joy? (There are some items you need to keep of course such as tax returns, and your duty is to respect those items by storing them in an organized fashion.)
Pull everything out that you truly love FIRST. Everything else should have the opportunity to be loved by someone else.
How to Justify the Give-Aways
A lot of us hold on to things for a lot of reasons. Even the best organizers still struggle with items. Usually it’s the items that cost a lot and are really great quality but that you hardly use.
By donating items you don’t really need, someone who truly needs it will be helped.
If someone struggling to get back on their feet can land an amazing job because they had the confidence from a suit that isn’t working for you anymore, isn’t that a better use than having it sit at the back of your closet? Don’t be selfish in your selections!
Other items may be sentimental. If it’s kids artwork, our office manager just takes a photo and lets the best stuff stay on the fridge for a week or two. Those birthday cards you kept all these years? When was the last time you looked at them? They are lovely memories but are just that – memories. Not blocks of cement to store.
More Tips & Tricks
A place for everything and everything in its place.
The biggest reason most of us end up with clutter and disorganization is because we have too much stuff and nowhere to put it. Make sure everything you own has a home. If you don’t have room, something needs to go (and we don’t mean to a storage unit!)
Rolling your clothes
Marie Kondo recommends using shallow drawers and rolling your clothes. First, you won’t have fold lines and wrinkles, and second, you can see all of your clothes which prevents sifting through the pile and destroying your neat drawer. You can also fit a lot more into your drawers!
Shoe hangers for doors can be great for storing bathroom or art supplies. Tool boxes can make excellent medicine kits. You get the idea.
Two Baskets, One Box
Things that can be a tipping point for your organization are things that need to leave the house but aren’t ready to go. That serving dish you need to give back to your mother-in-law, or the sweater that you want to donate. Keep a basket near or around your front door for the ‘lost and found’ or ‘to take somewhere’ items and keep another basket near your bedrooms for clothes you want to donate. Keep another box in the basement for other items you decide to donate over time once you’ve purged. When it’s full, drop it off!