Capturing Clutter

cluttered-roomWhether you’re preparing your home to sell, or your packing up to move to your new home … clutter can be your worst enemy. But, getting chaos under control isn’t always easy. Take it from me: I used to be the queen of clutter!

The problem isn’t that you lack resources. In fact, a whole industry sprang up to help folks tackle the problem of clutter: from simple lists and organizational tools to crews of “clutter police” to tackle your disarray for you, and even reality TV shows. You can find YouTube videos like this one to help you organize your linen cabinets and this one for your socks and underwear.

The abundance of resources might just seem like more clutter. For some people, even the thought of trying to de-clutter can seem overwhelming. And looking at pictures of the perfectly organized closets, cupboards and garages of organization gurus makes them feel like failures.

If clutter is messing with your home sale or move, don’t try to become the perfect organization expert right now. Just get the basics down so that you can move on:

  • Take small bites: Remember the old adage, ” How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” Don’t try to tackle the whole house at once. If you have children, consider starting with their toys. Look for ones they’ve outgrown and no longer play with. You don’t need to get rid of them just yet; try putting them in a clearly marked box out of sight. If your biggest challenge is your closet, pull out the clothes from the season farthest away (winter if it’s spring or summer if it’s fall) and put them in clear storage bins. That way, you can see them, but they aren’t taking up the space that your current wardrobe needs.
  • Time yourself: give yourself just one hour (or less) at a time to declutter one space. Tackle the junk drawer in the kitchen (yes, we all have one) and get rid of the odd paperclips, rubber bands, loose screws and broken pencils. Once you’re done with that one task, just get on with life … don’t think you have to do it all in one day.
  • Use the doubling rule: if you think it’s going to take one day to organize—plan for two. If you think you can do it in two weeks, plan for four. That way, if you get done in less time you’ll be energized rather than being disappointed that it took longer.
  • Use simple strategies: When organizing a room, use one box for KEEP, one for GIVE, one for DISCARD and one for SAVE. The KEEP box is for items that need to go back into that room, so it is a temporary resting place while you sort. The GIVE box is for anything you plan to give to friends, family or charity. Use the SAVE box for items that belong in a different location or that need to be in long-term storage. As you move from room to room, you’ll resort this box and return items to their proper room. The final box—DISCARD—may be the hardest one of all. Use it for anything broken, torn, damaged or otherwise unusable: just get rid of it. One caveat: if you plan to have a garage sale, add one more box called SELL for those items. If you don’t sell the items at your garage sale, move them to the GIVE box.

If you need to know which items to declutter for your home sale, talk to your real estate professionals. They know what types can turn off a buyer or make your home sale take longer … so tackle those items first.

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