Now that we’re past the holiday rush and stress, it’s spring cleaning time. As I look around my home I see so many new things and so much new clutter – where did it all come from?! Now, I like new stuff as much as the next person, but space is limited in many homes, and mine is no exception. Last year we downsized from a 4 bedroom house, with a garage and a large yard, to a small 2 bedroom condo with just a lanai (AKA patio, porch, deck, etc) and concrete entryway.
Thinking back on the decluttering and organizing I had to do to squeeze ourselves into this much smaller home, I don’t want to let that clutter get out of control again! So, I’m reviewing some ideas for organizing and decluttering, and will add a few more periodically to keep the process going. We can stop when the clutter stops piling up automatically, so that would be never.
Tip 1: Clean As You Go
When organizing, decluttering, or just rearranging for aesthetics, clean as you go. Create a small portable cleaning kit (with at least cleaning cloths, all purpose cleaner, broom, dustpan), and have it ready to do quick cleanups as needed. When you move the bookshelf, go ahead and take the extra few minutes to wipe it down, and sweep behind it. It will save you time in the end, since you’ll want to clean those areas at some point anyway.
Tip 2: Embrace The New
So, in this modern age of technology, of course there’s an app for everything, and organizing is no exception. For those millennials out there who like to use apps, you can check out your options.
Some, like Snupps, let you digitize your belongings and organize them into simple categories or “shelves.” From there, you decide what to keep, sell, or give away. You can also reach out to other users for organizational inspiration, discover items you may be interested in acquiring, or show off your personal collection.
As for me, I’m more of a hands-on organizer…I like to physically move things around and it helps me get a feel for my spaces, although my husband’s always telling me I should create an app that will show him where items are so HE can find them too!
Tip 3: Create a Room by Room Schedule
To systematically remove clutter over time, one method is monthly organization that’s broken down by room. For example, you can tackle the kitchen in January and give the home office a deep clean in February. Make a schedule that works for you. This method may feel less overwhelming and rushed, and by the end of the year, you’ll know that you’ve done a total circuit of your home. The biggest danger here? Simply moving the clutter from room to room.
One key to successful organizing is to minimize the number of times you have to handle each item. If you figure out where you want it to go and put it there the first time, you won’t keep coming back to it over and over in a time-wasting and completely frustrating process! How many times have we all done this? Then, when you actually need the item, you have to try and remember which of the places you moved it to where it finally ended up, causing more wasted time and frustration!
Don’t be afraid to get rid of items that are more trouble to keep than they’re worth. I have pack rat genes, and a long line of pack rat ancestry, so this is always a challenge for me, but I’m learning that it actually feels pretty good to give, sell, or trade items to someone who will actually use them, when I may not. Think about donating them to a worthy charity, having a yard sale, or listing them on eBay or Craigslist if you don’t really have a purpose of use for various items.
This includes items people give you that you really don’t have a use for – be creative and find options that don’t increase your clutter. If it’s not sentimental, and you don’t have a use for it in the near future, think twice before you just move it around – is it organizing or hoarding?
Tip 4: Consider a Single Purge
Prefer to declutter your entire home all at once? Designate a few days or a weekend to devote to the process. The secret is to stay focused on one task at a time and avoid getting sidetracked. Work your way through each room, one by one, until you’ve cleared out all areas of your home. Of course this is easier if you have a 2 bedroom condo instead of a 4 bedroom house, so adjustments might need to be made accordingly.
I usually find I don’t have enough time to do a single purge, or I get distracted by trying to get too much done and feel like I didn’t get enough done instead. I guess it depends on your motivations for organizing, and your personal style as well.
Moving can force a single purge in order to get moved as quickly and efficiently as possible, but it seems like most people prepare by doing smaller organizational tasks in advance. If my motivation for organizing is that a particular room or area has become cluttered or in disarray, I’m going to focus on that one area or room until it’s either done or I run out of time (which is more likely with a whole house purge, unless I’m taking a vacation to do it).
The same concepts apply if you’re doing a mass purge as for room by room organizing: avoid moving items around multiple times whenever possible, don’t be afraid to get rid of items (this type of mass purge is more conducive to a yard sale, maybe with a couple of neighbors who also want to declutter), and clean as you go – just don’t get too side tracked.
Tip 5: Stay Organized
Create systems for putting items away in their final destination the first time, just like the basket or shelf where you probably put all your incoming mail, dirty laundry, children’s toys, etc. It takes some time, but once the other family members get used to automatically putting things where they ultimately belong, everyone will be more organized with less time and effort.
An organized home is a happy home!
Make use of drawers, shelves, and baskets to assign targeted locations for specific items, and label them so everyone knows. I love the flexibility of baskets, plus you can mix and match, and move them around as your needs change.
Create a basket for those items that aren’t where they are supposed to be. Instead of constantly picking up and organizing items that have been carelessly placed by others, help them learn to put them away themselves by consolidating them into one area, where they then have to go sort through the basket to find when they need it. Most people can be taught how to be more organized with some help and guidance, but if you do it for them, that’s what they get used to.
Summer is fast approaching and now’s the time to eliminate your clutter. Whether it’s an app, a 12-month schedule, or one big purge, there’s no shortage of methods to help you be more organized, accumulate less clutter, and save time in your home.
There’s more to come, but in the meantime, I would love to hear your organizing/decluttering tips and tricks. For additional questions, or to learn about Oahu real estate opportunities, please contact me.