Today, we’ll give you some actionable tips on how to declutter a home the easy way.
As you go through life, you accumulate so many things like decorations for the various holidays, dusty old kids’ toys, boxes and albums packed with pictures, drawings and gifts from children and grandchildren, clothes that have gone out of style and much, much more.
Many of these items carry great sentimental value and they combine to create a lifetime of memories. This can be extremely difficult to let go of.
However, as you age, there’s an increased need to declutter and release a lot of these surplus belongings. Not only do all these objects eat up valuable real estate in your home as they become an eyesore, too much clutter can eventually become a safety hazard.
Today we’ll touch on why you need to declutter your home then show you how to accomplish this overpowering task in manageable chunks.
Clutter Is Problematic
If you’re overwhelmed by clutter, you are certainly not alone.
With 300,000 items in the average Americans home, it’s not surprising that, according to the National Association of Professional Organizers, that Americans lose an entire year of their lives looking for things lost in all that clutter.
Having boxes and bins of things stacked around the house can create a hazardous environment for you to maneuver around as well. Excessive clutter easily becomes a trip hazard, especially dangerous as you advance in years.
Even when you’re young and sprightly, it’s easy to lose important things among the mess. This is only exacerbated with time and memory loss. Don’t squander that year of your life looking for things!
Last but not least, look to the future and know that your family will have to go through all of these items when you pass. This process can compound grief and make things more difficult for your loved ones. Save them at least one job and get rid of unnecessary possessions.
Clutter creates many problems for you, then.
The good news is that you can strike now and take immediate action to start reclaiming your home from clutter.
How To Declutter a Home
The main reason for most people putting off decluttering is because it seems like such a monumental task.
With a lifetime's worth of memories scattered around a home, it’s certainly a substantial undertaking but you can get this done bit by bit. Use the little and often approach to start attacking surplus belongings rather than viewing it is one unmanageable task.
Start by setting aside some swathes of time to accomplish this task. As a rule of thumb, set aside anywhere from a day to a weekend per room you need to declutter.
Don’t expect to get everything done at once and look at this as a project that might last a few weeks but will only need doing once.
Gather the following supplies:
- Trash bags
- Cleaning supplies
- Paper towels
As you go through your belongings, you’ll want to sort them into different categories.
To make this easier, you can assemble a few of your boxes and label them with:
The Process of Decluttering
Go through every single item in the room including closets, drawers, cabinets, under the beds, and any other hidden storage places.
Consider each item and determine quickly which box it needs to be popped into. Having these choices already made and the boxes in place makes the process quicker and easier.
If the item you are considering is something that hasn’t been worn or used in over a year, it probably isn’t going to get used again. It’s certainly not an essential.
If you’re unsure about anything, temporarily place it in the box labeled keep as a holding bay until you decide whether to keep it or pass it on.
Inject Some Fun Into Proceedings
Rather than looking at this like an arduous task with a timer ticking, relax and enjoy it.
Put on some of your favorite music.
Decluttering might not be the most stimulating job but if you allow yourself to be transported back in time by the memories, you can have an enjoyable day reminiscing.
An inbuilt advantage of decluttering is that you often bring things to light you’d either misplaced or forgotten about completely.
If you really don’t like the idea of decluttering and you’re struggling for discipline, give yourself a reward once the room is finished or at the end of the day. Maybe an ice cream sundae or a fun dinner out?
Get Assistance If Required
Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it, especially if you’ve got adult children.
Your children might enjoy going through things with you, reminiscing and laughing over photos and things.
Maybe they’ll even claim some of the items you’ve destined for sale or donation!
Challenges To Expect
As you sort through all of your belongings, you’re sure to come across certain things that will present a challenge to you and your endeavors. Decluttering can be difficult for many reasons and you need to know when it’s okay to let something go.
Many of the things we have held on to through the years have great meaning to us. An unattractive picture frame might bring back vivid memories of a favorite aunt. A misshapen vase might have been a wedding gift. A blanket might have come from a dear friend who passed away.
It’s quite understandable that we become attached to these things and that they can be tough to part with. As you age, you should consider how best to use the space you have and to determine what’s truly worth holding on to.
Aside from sentimental items, there are many other things we tend to collect without any real purpose.
Hearing aids and glasses sit in drawers unused. We hold on to them because they cost us a lot of money and they were once necessary but they do no good sitting in a drawer. Find somewhere to donate the old glasses and recycle the rest of the items. Be sure to keep your most recent pair of glasses in case of emergency, though.
Inherited items are another sticky subject. When people we love pass away and we inherit items that belonged to them, it can feel like we have inherited a part of them. It can be difficult to accept, but sometimes those inherited items do not need to be kept. If you have inherited items sitting around that aren’t being used, you should seriously consider donating them so that they are no longer collecting dust. The memory of your friend or family member would be better served if someone got use out of the item.
Old paperwork can be another thing that’s difficult to know how to handle. Tax records and other legal documents must be kept for a period of time. Of course, you also need to keep your personal documents like birth, death, and marriage certificates. Not every piece of paper is important, so you should go through paperwork as well. Use a shredder to dispose of documents if you’re concerned about security.
What To Do Next
Sorting through a lifetime worth of belongings and memories is not an easy task, but it’s one that should be taken on with relish, especially if you are moving into an assisted living facility in New Mexico.
Most people feel much better after they declutter and most never even miss the things they have parted with.
Lighten your load and let go of what you no longer need with a clear conscience when you declutter a home.