Spring cleaning – a common tradition in most homes – is known as a time to clear the clutter and get ready for spring and summer. Most of us need more than an annual event to keep our homes free of clutter. A tidy home offers a sense of control and comfort. Some might even say it provides a sense of peace as well. “Clutter busting” expert Brooks Palmer puts it this way: “The trash in your home… consumes precious space and zaps energy from your life… It’s time to renew your energy. It’s time to take out the trash.”
Trash in our homes? This may sound a bit harsh; after all, most of the things stored away in our closets, garages and attics are things we need or will need some day, aren’t they? Not according to organizational expert, Lorie Marrero, a certified professional organizer and creator of ClutterDiet.com. She offers essential tips on “losing clutter pounds,” as most of the things stored in the home are accessed only once a year, if at all, and would be better off in self-storage units or garage sales.
Here are some tips for losing some of those “clutter pounds” and bringing a sense of order back to your home:
- Toss what you don’t need. Remember this well-known rule among experts: if you haven’t used it in a year (some say two), put it in storage or be rid of it!
- Tackle each room separately. Identify the purpose of each room and then identify the clutter. For example, the bedroom should be a place of intimacy and rest. Marrero recommends avoiding “stressed out” spaces.. “If there are too many major functions in the room, if there are too many things going on in the space, it will be difficult to accommodate them all adequately.”
- Assign everything a place. Taking the extra minute to put things in their assigned places will help keep clutter at bay. It will save you the stress of being unable to find items. It will also keep your house organized and inviting, and it will ultimately prove to be a huge time saver.
- Avoid feeling overwhelmed, and remember you have options. Your junk may be someone else’s treasure. Give to others. This includes family, friends, and charities. Some charities will even pick up the items from your home, saving you extra time and trouble.
- Categorize “useful” items. After cleaning and working hard, the fun part can begin: organizing those things you actually need and use. You will most likely find many of these things are seasonal items such as seasonal decorations (i.e. Christmas or Halloween trimmings, fall and spring ornamentation, and summertime items) or seasonal sports equipment, such as ski or camping gear. If you are only accessing these items once or twice a year, it may be best to get an inexpensive storage unit rather than cluttering your home with them.
- Make the most of your space, but don’t overdo it. We often have too much stuff in one space, making it difficult to use what we do have. In this case, it is important to clean out these spaces, determine the extent to which items are used, and prioritize what is truly useful. In other words, is it used on a daily basis or once a year?
- Avoid “invisible clutter,” the clutter that is often hidden in those rarely visited spaces such as the attic or the garage. After determining the use of every room, try to keep in mind that the garage is the car’s room. This is where most people keep clutter hidden. In his book Clutter Busting, Palmer puts it this way: “Can you park in your garage? I’ve learned to assume that most stuff in the garage is crap. A car is okay to have in the garage. Tools for the car are okay too, provided they are for the car in the garage and not for a previous car.”
Pat yourself on the back. You’ve done it! You’ve tossed the trash that was taking over your home, and you’ve categorized all those useful items you had forgotten about.
At this point you may have realized you don’t have a place for everything, because there is no more storage space in your house. Peter Walsh, professional organizer from TLC’s hit series Clean Sweep, suggests the option of a self-storage unit, a great place to store seasonal items, including home décor, sports gear, power tools, etc. Here are a few tips when considering a storage unit:
- Estimate the size of the storage unit you’ll need. Sizes can vary from a 5′ x 5′ to a 10′ x 30′. Only get the amount of space you need. This space shouldn’t be used to keep “invisible clutter.”
- Consider availability and location. If you’re only storing seasonal items or items you hardly use, you may not mind renting a storage unit that’s a bit further away. However, if you are storing items you need more often, you may want to get a unit closer to your home.
- Consider Rates. Depending on the availability and location of the storage unit rates can vary from $27 to more than $400. However, keep in mind there are ways you can save time and money. For example, you may find discounted prices by reserving your storage unit online. Also, in some cases they may include the cost of a truck rental or offer it at a very low price.
- Drain the fuel compartments of any motorcycles, scooters, chainsaws or other gasoline-powered tools you are planning to keep in your storage unit.
- Organize your storage unit. Get sturdy packaging, some labels, and wardrobe boxes for hanging clothes. Also, make a list of contents and number each box as a form of inventory. Leave those items you know you will hardly use at the back of the unit, and place the more frequently used items at the front. Remember to leave a walkway so you can access the back.
De-cluttering your home will ultimately de-clutter other areas of your life, paving the way to a happier and more fulfilled existence. Jennifer Ford Berry, best-selling author of Organize Now, said it best, “A clean, clutter-free home will literally change your life.”
- The Clutter Diet, The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life
Lorie Marrero, Certified Professional Organizer and Creator of ClutterDiet.com
- Clutter Busting, Letting go of What’s Holding You Back
- How to organize just about everything
Peter Walsh, Professional Organizer from TLC’s hit series Clean Sweep