For a small number of people, getting organized is just a quick weekend activity. But for most us, tackling the clutter ranges from a big project to a major ordeal. It’s easy to see why. You don’t know where to start or what to get rid of. You worry about tossing something you’ll need or that you’re attached to. But, at the end of the day, getting organized isn’t about your stuff, it’s about how you feel in your home. Clearing out closets and organizing your kitchen lightens your mental load. Ready?
Step one: This is about you and not your stuff. Keeping that front of mind helps you make choices that work for you. When you walk into your living room and see piles of unread magazines, don’t feel guilty. The magazines are only there for your enjoyment. Are you going to get to those piles? Nope. And your subscription isn’t supposed to be a chore; it’s supposed to be a break from your day. Pick this month’s issue and toss the rest in the recycle bin. Nothing feel’s better than a fresh start.
· Tip: if you’ve got more reading material than you need, why not put a subscription or two on hold for a while?
Step two: Don’t worry about making a mistake. Unless you’re throwing away bags of cash, it’s unlikely you’ll miss it once it’s gone. It can be hard to get rid of something that you spent money on, that you received as a gift, or had emotional significance. But that’s not a reason to keep it. If what you’re looking at isn’t adding value to your life today, it’s unlikely it will suddenly add value tomorrow. Don’t use your closet as a rainy day fund. Use it to keep things you actually (and actively) need.
Step three: Decide how you want to use the room and let that guide what’s in it. If you want your bedroom to feel like a retreat, then get serious about what you keep there. Imagine you went to a spa for the weekend. You walk into the massage room and realize it’s also a storage space for some DIY projects, a play area for children, and a workspace for the staff. You would ask for a refund without blinking. Treat your bedroom the same way. If you decide it should be a retreat then make it a retreat. Edit anything that doesn’t help you unwind.
Step four: Your clutter is not a living thing. So, you don’t have to find it a good home in order to say goodbye. If cleaning out your clothes closet turns into a “swap-meet/ wouldn’t Jane want/I should send this to that Himalayan charity I read about in National Geographic” kind of day, stop. Breathe. Make three piles: discard, donate, and keep. (And, by donate I mean to a single charitable organization.) Mark those three areas with little signs to keep you focused. Put a hefty bag by discard, a box by donate, and hangers by keep. Set a timer.
Get ready, set, and make decisions! Does it make you look and feel great? Yes! Keeper. No! If it’s in good condition, donate, if not, discard. Move on. This is 30-seconds, snap judgment kind of decision-making. It doesn’t matter how much it cost, the good times you had, or when it last fit. When you’re done, get those hefty bags in the trash and those boxes in the car.
Now, every time you open your closet, you’ll only see things you love to wear. You’ve just made it easier to get dressed, feel good about how you look, and try new outfit combinations. Nice job, you fabulously dressed person!
Step five: Focus on creating spaces that make you feel calm. It’s easy to lose focus of why we get organized. It’s not to win some kind of good housekeeping prize; it’s to make us feel good when we’re at home. Clutter takes up physical and mental space. You may not even realize the stress it causes until it’s gone. Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t worry about the momentary pangs of indecision or guilt. When this is done, you’re going to feel lighter, happier, and more relaxed every time you walk into that room.
To help you get started, I’ve made you a set of cheat sheets to help you tackle clothes, paper, your kitchen and your bath. Click to download and tell us how it goes!
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