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De-cluttering: Clearing the old to make way for the new!

Whether it's a house, garage, room, cupboard, office desk or entire office that needs to be cleaned and organised; decluttering is a great way to facilitate positive change.  Oftentimes old stuff is stored long past its usefulness. These old things also have strong memories and emotions attached to them. You can let go of the past and still keep the good memories. Letting go of the old things may help let go of old, negative emotions and memories too. I have listed 3 easy steps to help you declutter your space and I hope you find in doing so you also declutter your mind of outdated emotional and mental junk!

STEP 1 - Start Simple 

Choose something quickeasy and achievable within a short time limit.

It's important to get a quick win when you start anything that you have procrastinated on or if you're doing any task. Choose something achievable within a time limit that you can sustain. If it's 15 minutes, then empty the trash from the space or do a load of clothes washing or fold and put away a basket of dry clothes. 

You want something that you can clear quickly, show yourself the progress and instil a sense of satisfaction and confidence to continue. If you start with something unachievable in the time you have then you can feel defeated, lose confidence in your ability to continue and stop, leaving the space in a bigger mess than when you started.

Generally, start with a desk, drawer, cupboard or bookshelf that you have been wanting to tidy.

You can start with a room if it's not too cluttered and if you won't feel overwhelmed.

Step 2 - Prepare

Keep 3 garbage bags or old boxes ready

I prefer boxes because it's easier to put things in a box without breakages and to easily see what you have cleared, however, if your don't have boxes, then use bags including garbage bags. Don't let the lack of a container make you procrastinate on the de-cluttering.

Write 3 labels, one on each bag or box:

Keep: for things you are keeping which are things you love or need.

Donate or Sell: Donate or sell anything that you do not love or need and that someone else can use.

Throw: Everything you don't love, need, can't sell or donate is garbage and why would you want to keep garbage?

When you have made a decision about every item, then research your local charities to donate items and take the items to the charity or have them collect as soon as possible (this should be within 2-3 days or no later than a week) 

If you wish to sell items, research online places to sell. You may need to photograph and post your items for sale. This takes a little longer and the key is to take  good photos, add good descriptions of the items and price them reasonably. Don't become too attached that you price them out of sale. Price them at a fair price so you feel happy it has gone to a good home for it's next life.

If there are large items that need to be thrown away then check with your local tip or authorities on where you can take garbage. Remember some items may be hazardous waste such as chemicals in the garage like paint thinners and cleaners. Check about safe ways to dispose of these items.

Things that you wish to keep should be in places where you use them or stored away for use during special times during the year. For example Christmas decorations could all be in one clear, plastic storage box, clearly labelled and stored in a cupboard or garage ready for December or Christmas in July. Winter clothes or bed linen could be stored in appropriate cupboards or vacuum-sealed plastic bags that reduce the space they take up until needed. Be careful with vacuum sealing clothes as some creases may be hard to remove. Clothes can be hung in the plastic sleeves on hangers in a wardrobe until needed. Sentimental items could be in a place of importance where seen daily. Search online for ideas on how to display sentimental objects.

Step 3 - Organise the cleared space

Organise the remaining items so that the clutter does not build up again. 
When the space is cleared, it is important to organise the remaining items so that the clutter does not build up again. Always make a final decision about new items, eg. shred, file or action mail immediately!

If it's a cupboard you have cleared, ensure each shelf has a purpose, for example in an office shelf, the top shelf is for empty files and large stationery. The middle shelves are for books and the bottom shelves are for office bags and office appliances like shredders. 

Have plastic containers labelled for bills due, envelops etc. Have one container for pens and pencils and one tray for small stationery like staplers and hole punches; so, everything has a place, that you can see and access easily. Do the same for the laundry, kitchen, garage and clothes cupboards. 

There are great videos on organising many items including how to fold clothes and linen effectively and economically. They will save space, preserve your clothes and even make the folding ritual enjoyable. Search for these videos on organising the spaces in your home.

Finally remember each day when you receive or use an item, place it in its right place in the space. In clearing and organising we create new and better habits that save, time, energy and promote peace of mind!