An Organized Person’s Approach To Decluttering

Before After Closet 2

The images above are NOT from my house, but are great examples of a before and after organization transformation.

I often take my intense need for organization for granted and assume that other people are just like me. However, I know that this isn’t the case, and that many individuals tend to get literally and figuratively buried in their own stacks of paperwork, unfinished projects, and unused items which have sat in storage for far too long. One of the reasons why I am able to remain relatively organized on a consistent basis is because I go through every item I own several times a year and assess its value and function in my life. If it no longer serves a need, it goes to Goodwill, the trash, or a pile of items which will be part of a garage sale. I fail to see the point of hanging onto things I don’t need, because those items only collect dust and take up space. In addition, items of value which sit in storage are better utilized by being sold, because then the money can go towards paying bills or fattening up a vacation fund.

When I conduct my regular organizational purges, I move in a clockwise or counter-clockwise fashion, starting in one corner of the room. I make sure to COMPLETELY sort everything in that area before I move onto the next portion of the room. I have discovered that this method is very effective for decluttering, especially for individuals who become easily overwhelmed with the task of cleaning and organizing a space. As an example, I may start at a storage cabinet. The exterior of the cabinet is cleaned, and any items which are on top of or around the cabinet are assessed. Once the area outside the cabinet is done, I will go through each shelf in the cabinet. Whenever I assess an item, I ask these questions:

1. Does this item belong where I found it?
2. If the item doesn’t belong where I found it, and I am going to keep it, where does it belong?
3. When was the last time I used this item?
4. Is this item damaged and in need of repair?
5. Will I have a need for this item in the future?
6. Does this item have sentimental value?
7. If I decide to get rid of the item, does it have enough value to put into a garage sale, or does it belong in a Goodwill pile or the trash?
8. Is this a collectible or specialty item which requires research and appraisal?

People who have hoarding tendencies have strong emotional attachments to objects, and will have a particularly difficult time answering these questions, especially numbers 5,6,7 and 8. In their minds, EVERYTHING has some sort of value which warrants a permanent spot in their home, even if it isn’t being used.

When I conduct these semi-annual purges, I have the following on hand:

trash bags
cleaning solution and paper towels
box designated for Goodwill/Salvation Army
box for items which need to be repaired or professionally cleaned
area for garage sale items
area for collectibles to sell

Once I get started, I am pretty ruthless about getting rid of things I don’t need. To be honest, I love making money back on items I bought which haven’t been used in a while, and I also get great joy out of donating things to Goodwill. Above all, I am very honest with myself about emotional attachments to inanimate objects. There are some items I will NEVER get rid of, like the little yellow musical stuffed dog that was in my crib, jewelry my mother gave me, my Pro Card watch, and all my trophies, but I am not going to develop anxiety about getting rid of a sweater I have had for 15 years which I haven’t worn for over 5 years!

If you are long overdue on spring cleaning, now is a good time to clear up the clutter. You’ll end up with a cleaner, more organized home, you will know where everything is, and you may make some decent money selling some of your belongings!

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