Decide What You Don’t Need
Decluttering your home necessarily requires some sacrifice. When you’re trying to clear up and make space, you have to throw out some things. Junk mail is an obvious place to start, but dated clothes, chipped plates, and the four thousand paper crafts your children made over the years are other possessions you’ll need to surrender. Of course some items hold sentimental value and seem priceless because of it, so use discretion to determine what you’ll really need in your next home, and throw or give away whatever you can do without.
Schedule Your Decluttering
Make a routine of the endeavor. Plan to devote half an hour each evening, or a three-hour block each weekend, to decluttering your home. Knowing you have to spend that time cleaning will keep you from putting it off even longer. It might not make you a cheerful worker, but it will at least make you motivated to complete your half-hour task.
Tackle One Space at a Time
For some people, this means one room. A particularly cluttered kitchen, though, may be an undertaking too intimidating to take on in one afternoon—so start with a countertop. Moving slowly and meticulously through your house, you’ll begin to quickly see the fruits of your labor. The neatness of one space juxtaposed with the cluttered rest can inspire and invigorate you to keep working and decluttering much longer than you thought possible.
Defend Against Future Clutter
If it happened once, it’ll happen again, whether before you sell your home or after you move into your new one. Clutter occurs naturally, but you can guard against it, or at least slow its progress. Designate a place to set your mail and papers, and once that place is full, weed through them and throw the junk mail away. If your kids tend to leave toys strewn about, choose a couple evenings a week where they have to tidy up and promise a treat as incentive for a job well done. And because new possessions are the leading cause of clutter, quit impulse purchases and instead list out everything you want to buy but don’t need. Date each entry, and if after 30 days that item still seems like a must-have, then buy it. You’ll be surprised, though, by how often purchases lose their allure over a month’s time, which will prevent the need for huge decluttering endeavors in the future.
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