It's easy for clutter to start taking over our space, and for many real estate agents, the first piece of advice that they will give to their seller clients is to "declutter" their home.
What better time than spring, the "season of new beginnings," to get a handle on our clutter with some reorganization or repurposing to create efficient living space.
Here are some "dos and don'ts" to make some real progress on clutter before spring has fully sprung.
1. DO keep your to-do list manageable. Pick one space, closet, or section of your home to work on at a time and block out 2-3 hours to complete the task. Seeing a small area completely redone will motivate to do more on another day.
2. DON'T set yourself up for an 8-hour day to organize the whole house. What generally ends up happening is people become overwhelmed and frustrated, and become less productive as the day wears on, the project runs into the next day, or week, or never gets completed.
3. DO clean out your space first. Go through the space that you're looking to organize, and determine if you will keep, recycle, give away, or throw away an item. Once you have decided what you're going to do with your piles, do it then and there. So, if you're giving a bag of cloths to a friend? Get them to her. Have trash to throw away? Take it out to the garbage can. Since you've made the decision on what is to happen to these items, and so much work to prepare them, finish the task in the here and now.
4. DON'T hold onto something once you've decided it's destiny. Get it out of the house. (How many months have you driven around with a bag of clothes to donate in the back of your car?)
5. DO bring in some baskets for the shelving units in your closets to organize similar items and reduce clutter. Label your baskets and it will be easy to find something when you need it.
6. DON'T go out and buy a bunch of storage bins and containers to organize until you have sorted through your home. Pretty bins, baskets, and containers will do no good unless they fit the space (on the shelf, under the bed, in the closet), hold what you need them to hold and function properly for your space. Clean out first, access what you really need, and start there. You can always add later, and until then, you don't want a bunch of empty containers floating around.
7. DO be gentle with yourself. Rome wasn't built in a day, and there will be constant tweaks to your new organized system. Remember that your progression is better than where you started, and you should expect regular upkeep. Very few people have closets and drawers that resemble those in magazines or online, where a team of stagers have set up the shot perfectly for the camera. A real person lives in your space - you - and the goal is to set up a space that is efficient and works for you.
8. DON'T beat yourself up if your once perfectly organized space starts to get a little cluttered again. It's a work in progress! Go back to No. 1 and repeat.
9. DO small things everyday to get a handle on clutter. Coffee table or desk seem like a mess? Stack your magazines and books in a pile. Place a candle or plant on top of the stack and you've got an instant table top display. It's progress, and it's more pleasant to look at than a table strewn with clutter.
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