Lessons in the Zen of Decluttering

clean home, peaceful, organized

How to Get Your Home Crazy Organized

There’s a kind of bliss that comes from tidying up and getting rid of all the stuff in your home that’s taking up your interior real estate. The purging is an emotional activity, and it’s a good feeling. Best of all, you’re not only doing it for the peace of mind and pride … you’re sprinting your way to the home sale finish line. Here we go. Absorb these lessons, take a deep breath and dig in!

Lesson #1: Categorize
You’re thinking that organizing a clutter-removal plan means going room-to-room. Nope. We’re talking organizing by categories: clothing, books, old photos, and so on. Start with the category that you have the least amount of trouble thinning out. Most of us would agree that’s clothing, but everybody is different. Put the categories in order from least stressful to most for you.

Lesson #2: Sorting
There’s a little trick to purging that many find makes the job easier. It’s called pile sorting. One variation is to establish three piles: one for the “definitely can go,” another for the “I’m getting rid of this come hell-or-high-water,” and three, “I’m on the fence on this.” It’s kind of fun. You might give the piles a second going over or even a third, moving items from one pile to the other. But set one rule: no moving items you’ve already placed in the “definitely can go” pile to one of the other two piles. Gotta set limits. There’s no easy out to this hack.

Lesson #3: The “Awwww” Factor
We tie memories to our stuff, no question. Like that cute stuffed panda bear your Aunt Betsy gave you for winning your first spelling bee. Give it one big hug and put the 6-foot tall dust collecting, space-eating goblin in the Goodwill donation box you have by the front door. You are going to relive a lot of fond memories and learn a lot about yourself by getting rid of the nostalgia. You’ll be a better, stronger person for it. And remember, when you deposit the check from your house sale, you can use some of it to start collecting memories all over again. You might even find a new stuffed animal for a shelf in your new home.

Lesson #4: Closet Claustrophobia
We’re not talking here about the panicky feeling you get when being confined to small spaces. We’re talking about your poor clothes and how they feel being scrunched up in a crowded closet. Toss out the most pathetic-looking slacks and tops, old sweaters, blouses with ugly stains that you can’t wear in public but are keeping around for house projects like painting, gardening, fix-it jobs. Start there. Then scrutinize each item and ask yourself if you’re going to wear that item in the next 6 months, year, two years. If you’re not going to wear it in 2 or 3 seasons, you should definitely get rid of it. Think of it this way: now you’ll have freed up some hangers. If you’re like most people, you never have enough hangers.

Lesson #5: Where the Discards Go
The stuff that’s going bye-bye can be set up into piles as well – or boxes. Discards usually go to about 4 places: to friends and family, donated to a thrift store, for a garage sale, or tossed in the dumpster. Some thrift stores will come to you with a truck and happily cart your stuff away. This is a godsend, especially when you have toss-outs like books and bulky, heavy appliances. If you’re giving stuff to friends, ask them to come to you to get it. If it’s destined for the dump, make sure you abide by your city’s heavy trash pick-up schedule and don’t just leave it in trash bags for garbage pick-up.

Lesson #6: For Keeps
On the flip side of where the discards go is where stuff that you’ve decided to keep goes. In the case of clothes, neatly fold them and place in dresser drawers or hang them in closets that are not already stuffed. Give them space. Make them feel wanted.

Other items can be put in small boxes and stacked to look pretty to prospective home buyers but also give you easy access. Use more vertical space to give your room or closet a more spacious feel.

Lesson #7: Enjoy
Besides decluttering to attract buyers, you’ve also succeeded in reducing the amount of time you spend cleaning and dusting and the amount of stuff you and the movers have to schlep to your new home. It also feels pretty darn good to make space. It’s good karma … attracting a buyer, a better life for you, and a new home or afterlife for your clutter!

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