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HHJ Spring Home & Garden

De-Cluttering Tips for

De-Cluttering Tips for the Home Story by Tara Poole Journal Contributor Junk. We all have it lying around the house, some of us more than others (present company included). A survey by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) found that roughly 54 percent of Americans feel overwhelmed by clutter. Having too much clutter can be bad for your health too. According to Psychology Today, messes’ causes stress. People tend to feel their life is out of control when they are in a cluttered environment. Too much clutter has even been linked to depression and anxiety in some people. Whether it’s a little or a lot, we can all reap the benefits of getting rid of clutter and stuff we don’t need any more. But how we do know if we have a clutter problem? What exactly is clutter? Why should we de-clutter? How do we even start the de-cluttering process? What Is Clutter and When Is It a Problem? Clutter is anything you keep that doesn’t add value to your life. (Do you really need all those exercise DVDs?) You have a clutter problem when you find yourself spending way too much time and energy looking for things. In extreme cases, such as hoarding, too much clutter can be a fire hazard and lead to health issues from mold and dust. Why Should We De-Clutter? For some, de-cluttering is a way to relieve stress. For example, my sister finds her stress level increases ten-fold when her house is messy. For others, de-cluttering frees up extra space in the house for new things. Other people may need to de-clutter because they’re downsizing to a smaller house. How Do I De-Clutter? Making the decision to de-clutter may be the hardest part of the process. Some of us have to get mentally prepared to tackle the issue. A good way to do this is to start with a few small projects to give you a sense of accomplishment when you’re done. For me, cleaning off my countertops and other flat surfaces gives me the motivation to move onto bigger areas. Another good way to tackle de-cluttering is to use the 80/20 Rule. For example, we tend to wear only about 20 percent of the clothes we own 80 percent of the time. This same rule applies to other things as well, such as books, DVDs, toys and games. Your goal with the 80/20 rule is to get rid of the things you don’t use 80 percent of the time. The second hardest part of de-cluttering is taking action and actually doing it! (Just the thought gives me a headache!) To make this easier, make a plan and come 18 Spring HOME & GARDEN 2018

up with specific goals for your de-cluttering process. Having a plan can keep you on track, keep you from getting overwhelmed, and reduce any frustration as you de-clutter. Below are a few tips to keep in mind when you start your de-cluttering process: • Make a map or list of all the rooms and clutter areas you want to tackle. • Grade each space based on its level of clutter, with one being not too bad and three being the most cluttered. This will help you decide which areas to focus on first and which ones will take more time. • Take it slow and do one room or area at a time. • Set completion dates or deadlines on a calendar for each phase of the cleanup. Pick dates that are reasonable so you don’t get frustrated or overwhelmed. Remember, you didn’t collect all this junk in a day so you can’t expect to get rid of it in one day either! • If you know a particular area will take longer than a few hours, plan to set aside extra time to focus on it. The next step is to create a sorting system for all the stuff you find. The most popular method is the “Three-Box Method.” It works because it forces you to make a decision for each item you find so you don’t end up just moving junk around. Clutter causes stress and in some, depression and anxiety. Find three boxes or storage bins and label them as follows: 1. Label one box KEEP. This box is for stuff you want to keep. Once you complete a room or space, empty this box and put these items away in their new place, like a drawer or container. 2. Label another box GET RID OF IT. This box is for stuff you are going to throw away, sell or give to charity. Empty this box after you complete a room or space and either get rid of the items or store them for later disposable. Sorting closets by color or clothing type is one way to organize. 3. Label the last box STORAGE. This box is for any items you want to keep but will put away in storage. Once you complete a room or area, empty this box and put these items into labeled storage containers. As you’re sorting items into your three boxes, think about the last time you used each item. If you haven’t used something in the last six months, there’s probably no reason to keep it. If something has sentimental value but you don’t use it on a regular basis, then it could go in storage. If it’s broken or you can’t remember why you bought it, then get rid of it. As long as we have stuff, we will always have to deal with clutter. But we can take control of our clutter by taking small, doable baby steps! Happy de-cluttering! Stackable plastic bins with lids are a great way to store items. Spring HOME & GARDEN 2018 19

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