I used to be a really messy person when I was younger…not dirty, but messy. I had no issue with clothes being littered all over my bedroom floor, or piles of mail and papers everywhere. It was difficult for me to throw things out, and clutter was rampant. Though I continued to live like that, I didn’t necessarily like it. I was used to it, but would have definitely preferred a neater space. But, as the stuff piled up, the thought of cleaning everything out became increasingly unappealing. Instead of tackling it a bit at a time, I felt overwhelmed and did nothing. I suspect that is the problem most clutter bugs face. But, as a reformed messy person, I am here to tell you there is hope; you can have a neat house. Your messiness is not ingrained in your DNA, unchangeable. Here are some tips that helped me clear out the junk for good.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
If you think of the task of decluttering as clearing out your whole house, you will feel discouraged almost instantly. Over the years, so much stuff has piled up and getting rid of it all can seem like a Herculean task. This is what always stood in my way. When I started looking at the problem piecemeal, I finally started making progress. I just focused on one problem area at a time, and resolved to take care of that area. It felt more manageable and the progress was a huge motivator to keep going, one clutter-filled nook at a time.
Schedule Your Cleaning Time
There is something very magical about setting specific intentions and writing things down—you are more likely to actually do said things. Don’t just say you want to clear out your clutter—a good start for sure, but put it on paper. Carve out a specific time devoted to the task. It does not have to be hours…even if it is just 15-minutes. Though, committing to a bit longer, say an hour, is better if you think you can hack it. The important point is putting it in your schedule and following through.
Start with the Trash
When I finally committed to clearing the clutter from my living space, I found starting with the obvious trash was the most motivating for me. Start off with the items that are going right into the garbage, like the old magazines. It will feel great to just get rid of that stuff. Then, you can move on to the things that need to be organized, moved to different rooms,etc…
Be Forced to Make Decisions
It is easy to stew over the different items, trying to figure out what to do with everything. While you can’t avoid giving thought to this as you rummage through all your possessions, do it in a way that forces you to make a decision. Some stuff will obviously be trash. But, then you want to have three other boxes or bags on hand—one for stuff to sell, one for stuff to donate, and one for things that need to be put away elsewhere. Having these set categories will make the cleaning process much more efficient. If you are giving away a significant amount of stuff, keep track so you can value it; you can deduct your donations on your taxes, provided these individual line items work out to more than your standard deduction.
Remember that maintaining a home devoid of clutter is an ongoing process; commit to weekly straightening sessions. Know that it is possible to develop good habits and you are not destined to live in a mess.