Decluttering Do’s and Don’ts

Do's and Don'ts chalkboard

Decluttering is difficult. People tend to let stuff pile up until they just don’t have any more room for all of those extra items of clothing, appliances, knick-knacks and books. The surplus stuff often builds up slowly — purchase by purchase, gift by gift — so you may not even notice how much junk you have until you need to move.

Holding on to all of that stuff can be anxiety-inducing. At the extreme, you may actually feel crowded by it, or overwhelmed by the cleaning and organizing tasks that you’d like to get done if you could only get some of that junk out of the way. That’s when the need to declutter has reached crisis proportions.

But there are ways to keep decluttering from getting to that crisis point, and strategies you can use to keep your stuff from getting out of hand on a regular basis. These are the “Dos and Don’ts” of decluttering, and they can save your sanity — or at least some of your space.

The first “Do” is to let go of the guilt that may be influencing you to keep things. Did an aunt give you an ugly sweater you’ll never wear? Did a friend give you a tacky souvenir? Items like these certainly may have memories or some sense of responsibility attached, but you should chuck them without a second thought if you don’t use and enjoy them.

Another “Do”? Tackle one room at a time. Limiting the decluttering project (or dividing into small chunks) allows you to focus and can keep you from getting overwhelmed by the bigger, whole-house task. You can even start with a closet to see the results of your efforts fast — and it might just inspire you to check more rooms off your list.

If you’re sorting through a clothes closet, try the “hanger trick” to determine what you can get rid of. Turn the open part of the hook of every garment toward you; as you wear and return some to the closet, turn the hanger the right way around. At the end of the season, anything still on a hanger with the point facing out is something you don’t want.

What’s a decluttering “Don’t”? “Don’t hold on to things because you’re going to sell them,” the OneCountry blog says. “Either sell them or don’t sell them, but don’t hold them onto them for a nonexistent point in the future when you might get around to selling them. Most things don’t hold as much monetary value as we think they do, regardless of what we paid for them.”

One final “Do”: The minute you decide to declutter, visit ClothingDonations.org to schedule a pickup. Not only will it help you commit to the task, it will give you a date to complete it. Put that date on your calendar — it could be the start to your new, uncluttered life.

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