5 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home
What are you leaving to your family members when you die? – a lifetime of memories or memories together with a house full of clutter that you didn’t want to deal with.
We often hear of sad situations where families have had an enormous task of clearing out the home of a deceased loved one. At such an emotional time, it is difficult to have to make rational decisions about what to do with all of their possessions, especially if it is a case of a really cluttered household. It can be challenging for families leading busy lives, to find the necessary free time to clear out a home filled with a lifetime of collected possessions.
Once you’ve put your affairs in order by making a Health Directive, Power of Attorney and Will etc, you then need to consider who is going to deal with your personal possessions? You may not worry about it if you have children, but why burden them with the task? What if you don’t have children or any other obvious next of kin?
Most of our possessions will be considered ‘clutter’ by our family. Sure there are going to be those items that are both precious to you and your family as heirlooms…but what about the rest? The list is endless…kitchen appliances that no longer work, old recipe books, 6 sets of parfait glasses still in boxes, DVD’s, magazine stacks, wardrobes of old clothes, even boxes of items inherited from a deceased older relative etc. That’s before we even think about the garage or shed.
If we don’t find the time to sort the clutter, why do we assume someone else will have the time to deal with it? They all seem like treasures to the one holding onto them, but to others it will just be a nightmare when they’re gone. Our clutter is unlikely to be used or valued by our family and friends. They most likely have too much ‘stuff’ themselves, without inheriting more. It will be a ‘guilty problem’ for them to decide what to do with the items, as the choices are limited – try to sell, donate to a charity or dispose.
Here are some creative ideas to get you motivated –
- Create a list of places/areas in your home to declutter beginning with the easiest. These don’t have to be large areas – you can make them as small as a drawer, carton or a cabinet. When you’re done with that one area, it is important to stop, and consider if you want to continue onto the next area or schedule it for another time. The aim is not to overburden yourself in any one session, but rather, make decluttering a regular and enjoyable activity. This list could be made as easy or difficult as you wish, however, it should be achievable and easily fit into any schedule.
- Use four boxes every time you are decluttering: keep, give away, sell, rubbish. Items are placed into the appropriate box. The golden rule is no item can be put aside for consideration at a later time, and each item must be considered individually. This may mean that the task takes a little longer to complete, however, you won’t end up with a ‘I’ll decide later box’ that is larger than all the other boxes.
- To identify wardrobe items to discard, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the wardrobe with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clearer picture of which clothes you are no longer wearing. This method could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home eg cleaners, toys, linens, hobbies and craft items etc.
- Use your imagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove. Try asking yourself questions like, “If I was buying this item today, how much would I pay, or would I even buy this item?” Or “Does this item contribute in a practical or meaningful way to my everyday life.” Using this technique of mentally placing yourself in a different situation, can be very helpful for people who have difficulty removing unneeded clutter.
- Do you have lots of ‘keepsakes’ that you are planning to leave to your family and friends in your Will? Consider if they would like to receive them now, when you can discuss their origin and value. It may be that they can make immediate good use of the item, or they may appreciate having the keepsake now for their family to enjoy.
Remember it is never too early to deal with the issue of decluttering…you don’t have to be old for life to come to an end. As you declutter, you realise you can live with less, and as you live with less, you declutter even more. Make a start and discover the freedom that accompanies not having to worry where to store things or how to find more room for things.
After all, if you don’t do it, someone else has to.