honestly, this hasnt been our first attempt at thoroughly purging our home. its just been our first successful attempt. the big difference this time around has been our approach: rather than trying to hustle through and clear out everything in a single afternoon, or weekend, or in the week before my moms yard sale (all of which are things we have actually tried and have mainly resulted in a big mess, a big fight, and very, very little progress), we made an organized plan and took our time. lo and behold, IT WORKED! so i thought that today would be a good time to share a few tips to help you get started on a successful de-cluttering mission without going insane.
1. make a plan. one of the main lessons ive learned in the past couple of years is that you will NEVER reach your goals if you dont clearly define them. so before you get started, map out exactly what it is youre going for. take a few minutes to sit down and ask yourself a few questions: what kind of end result am i after? what room(s) am i going through? how quickly (or slowly) do i want to get through this? how much time to i have to work on decluttering? having the answers to these questions will really help to guide you through the process without getting yourself lost, distracted, or overwhelmed.
2. break it down into small, specific steps. even though it seems more intuitive to break your home down into general areas like "bedroom", "closets", "garage", etc., ive found that (especially when youre short on time/have a lot of de-cluttering to do) that breaking things down even further (for example, instead of "bedroom", i had "nightstand", "dresser a", "dresser b", "bookshelf", and "under bed") helps a ton. for two reasons: 1. it gives you baby steps that you can tackle one at a time so that you can still make progress even when you dont have all day to devote to your purge, and 2. tackling one small area at a time keeps you from getting overwhelmed or distracted by keeping you moving forward at a steady pace. our list (for our one bedroom apartment) had twenty two areas for us to clean out. did that seem like a long list? absolutely. did checking off one small area as it was completed help us get the rest of it done? absolutely.
3. pick ONE and start there. honestly, it doesnt matter where you start, your closet, bathroom, kitchen, whatever, but start somewhere. and finish that before you move on to the next. dont buy into the idea that you have to make huge progress right at the start or feel like you have to wait until theres time to do it all in one go. if you wait for that, youll never get anywhere. so to get started. just start.
4. give yourself a break (and maybe a treat) before moving on. once you get started, work through each area one at a time until that spots completely done (whatever that means to you/your goals for de-cluttering), and give yourself a break before moving on to the next one. whether thats a day or a week is up to you, but forcing yourself through at full steam is a surefire way to get burnt out and give up.
5. take things OUT frequently. the biggest distraction when clearing out junk is definitely the piles of old junk that start to accumulate everywhere. these piles may not only physically get in the way by taking up space, but they also tend to mentally get in the way by making you think about all that stuff that you havent thought about because it was buried deep in closets. the best way to fight this is to get the "going out" stuff out as soon as you possibly can. as we went through our apartment, we made sure that all trash (papers, broken things, things missing pieces, unusable things) got taken out immediately, all the donate/give-away able stuff taken to goodwill/someone who will appreciate it as soon as possible, and the ONLY things that got to stay around in "limbo" were the things we found that were sell-able (and in the process of being sold).
6. DONT pressure yourself. i mentioned earlier that forcing yourself to work at full steam forever is just asking to get burnt out. so is putting yourself on any kind of deadline (unless there is some kind of actual deadline like youre moving or something) or giving yourself unreasonable standards (like, when im done the WHOLE HOUSE must look just like a magazine). any of these things will quickly ruin any momentum you build up since youll be looking at your failures, rather than your progress. just keep going, small step by small step, and things will start to get moving faster as you move along.
7. reward your hard work. im going to be completely honest: trying to minimize your things is torture if you make it into a work thing that you have to do, but giving yourself a (fun, tangible) reason for decluttering, it becomes much more fun (and successful). for example, we set our new bed as the reward for getting through all the bedroom stuff, and because we hated the old bed, it was a HUGE motivator. your rewards can be big (like ours) or small, (like, say, one great new bag as a reward for clearing out your closet), but either way i am a firm believer in rewarding yourself for all the work you do.
doing things this way didnt necessarily have the most immediate results, but as we kept trucking along, it not only got easier, but the results just kept getting better and better than wed ever expected (with the added bonus of a whole lot less fighting!). so if youre looking to start some serious spring cleaning, i hope that this method helps (and good luck!).