Many people feel empowered by taking charge of their immediate surroundings — which can be done through something as simple as a seasonal cleaning and decluttering project.
“People might think of seasonal cleaning as old-fashioned, or just another thankless chore,” says Elizabeth Hagen, a family and consumer science expert and author of Organize with Confidence. “But taking control of something that you actually have power over, such as your space and storage, can be emotionally uplifting and energizing.”
Organizing helps you take charge, feel better
“When your mind is cluttered, you lose focus,” Hagen says. “It’s the same when you have a cluttered house: you waste time by not being able to easily find things and you waste money by making duplicate purchases inadvertently.
“Whether it’s running out for another roll of tape when you know that you have one somewhere, or spending 30 minutes searching every time you need a hammer, just living with disorganization every day can be costly, debilitating and depressing.”
For those who might not know where to start when it comes to cleaning, decluttering and organizing, Hagen recommends making a plan, starting small, and setting goals.
“Organize your project before you start,” she urges. “And don’t attack simultaneous projects or anything too big to begin with. Instead, focus on small projects, one at a time. The feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction and peace that go with an organized life can be addicting!”
14 decluttering tips from the experts
To get you on your way, here are tips from organizing experts Elizabeth Hagen for Arrow Storage Products, The Cleaning Authority, and Deborah Shaw & Debora Jensen of Shaws Solutions.
Preparing to declutter your house
Set a date: Put your decluttering and organizing project on a calendar – and follow through. (Elizabeth Hagen)
Prioritize your approach: What will you tackle first? When will you do it? Will you have help? What’s next? Make a list and check off your “assignments” as you go. (Elizabeth Hagen)
Imagine your plan realized: Visualize what indoor or outdoor spaces you’d like to free up for more important or enjoyable purposes. How will they look after you’re done? For motivation, picture yourself enjoying the revamped space. (Elizabeth Hagen)
Prepare your decluttering supplies: Before starting, make sure you have a supply of baskets, boxes, trash bags, labels and a permanent marker to help the sorting process along. (Shaws Solutions)
Determine your decision-making philosophy: What will guide decisions on things to keep and things to part with? For example: How often do you use an item? Do you love it? Establish your criteria in advance and stick to them. It will speed up the process. (Elizabeth Hagen)
Decluttering project in action
Tune in: Put music on in the room you are about to declutter: It helps to set a positive mood. (Shaws Solutions)
Declutter one room at a time: Start with a smaller area first, whether it be a drawer, cupboard or closet. Once you see the finished results it will motivate you to do more! (Shaws Solutions)
Sort it out: Begin by sorting, room by room, into the following piles: keep, donate, sell, trash and recycle. Focus on the end result and go with your gut when deciding what to do with an item. If it makes it in a pile, leave it there. (Cleaning Authority)
Have someone help: If you are tackling an overwhelming amount of clutter, an outside perspective can be essential. Considering having a friend help, or hire a professional organizer. (Shaws Solutions)
>> 18 five-minute decluttering tips to help you get organized
What to do with the stuff after you declutter your house
Get rid of it! Purge items in the recycle and trash piles so they no longer take up space in your home. People spend one year of their lives looking for lost items, according to the National Association of Professional Organizers. Having more space in your home makes it easier to organize and find the things you keep.(Cleaning Authority)
Have a review box: Items that you are unsure about donating or selling, they recommend that you put them in a box, to be stored and dated for future review. When that time arrives, and you have not missed anything in it, reassess and get ready to eBay, Freecycle or donate. (Shaws Solutions)
Make a little cash. List items for sale on Craigslist or eBay, or take them to a thrift store. Give yourself a deadline to sell everything — and whatever has not sold by that date, donate.(Cleaning Authority)
Give back to the community. Freecycle, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity are just a few options to consider when donating your household goods. Not all items may be accepted, so check with your local charity if you are planning on donating furniture or any larger items.(Cleaning Authority)
Gift to friends and family: If you have got books you’ve read, clothing that no longer fits and items others may enjoy as you once did, they can be gifted to those you know. (Shaws Solutions)
Keep it going
Need more ideas? Check out 18 five-minute decluttering tips to help you get organized. Then, once you’re done, it’s time to get into a decluttering habit
“I believe in the old adage, ‘A place for everything, and everything in its place,'” says Hagen. “Taking control of the space around you, with the right storage solution, can be emotionally empowering, and make for an easier, happier, more enjoyable life.”