In with the New part 3 declutter_NS IGYou’ve taken your decorations down and put them safely away for another year. Good for you! It’s always a little sad to see those bright and shiny ornaments which you displayed with such delight just a few short weeks ago, packed up and put into storage. Your house, in contrast, seems a bit plain and dull in the aftermath. Unless you’ve recently redecorated, you take a mental inventory of all you see – and it comes up a bit wanting.   But rather than put out an S.O.S. call to your favorite decorator, you can use that new year motivation to get a jump start on making your home less cluttered and more organized this year. Yes, I did say “jump start.” It seems it’s harder and harder these days to carve out a whole day, let alone a full weekend, to make real progress where your home is concerned. So let’s start by taking a few smaller, yet meaningful, steps towards making your home the haven you intended it to be.

Here are a few dos and don’ts that can help in the process:

  1. DON’T start with your spouse/roommate’s stuff. I realize it’s easier to dispense of other people’s excess belongings (especially that T-shirt your sweet hubby still wears from high school. Yikes!) But, start by taking responsibility for the things that belong to you. Starting on your own stuff will be a motivator to the others in your household!

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  1. DO start by putting everything away that you possibly can. Make sure everything has a place, not just jammed into a drawer or stuck in the back of a closet. (All of which I’ve done myself.) For instance, check and see if you have a place for shoes/boots by the door, maybe invest in a boot tray or shoe caddy for corralling the most frequently worn footwear. Do you have enough hooks for backpacks and jackets? If the answer is “no,” then take a good look at those things that have made their home on the floor, and decide if they need to be discarded or donated. There, it looks better already!

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  1. DON’T get hung up on cleaning up your entire wardrobe right away. Go to your closet(s) and grab the things that have obviously seen better days, or no longer fit properly. Put them in a bag and remove them (check out last week’s blog from Susanna on how to use ThredUp!). If that doesn’t loosen things up enough to make room for anything new that you might have been given for Christmas or picked up at that after-Christmas sale, then take another pass at your clothes and shoes. This time, try to decide if something needs mending, or can be sold or donated. It’s starting to feel good! Right?
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  1. DO sort and file paper. There are so many ways that paper gets into our homes. And still we are surprised at how it piles up and our inability to deal with it, given that we all have these devices that promise to make our lives paperLESS. 😉

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My experience has been that every time you pass by that unsorted pile on your desk or countertop, it stresses you out just a little and keeps you from truly enjoying being at home.

Laura Gaskill, an interiors writer, said in an article posted on the popular website “houzz”: “Grab a pile and sort it; if you don’t currently have a filing system set up, just label a few files as you go, keeping the categories broad. When you’re done sorting the first pile, designate one spot to put all incoming paperwork. Place a paper-recycling bin beside it a and call it a day.”

  1. DON’T delay! If clutter is a real problem at your house, be ruthless! What you do today, you don’t have to think about tomorrow. Even if it’s simply removing one thing-it’s a start. Count your success in small victories, and by year’s end you’ll be surprised what you have accomplished.

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This article was inspired by Laura Gaskill’s post 5 Ways to Jump-Start a Whole-House Declutter Effort (originally posted on “houzz”, November 2, 2015).


 Beth Rhora

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