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Cleaning out the clutter in your home sounds like a major undertaking – and yes, I can already hear the groans coming from my readers.  It doesn’t have to be a treacherous journey, and if you keep a mental image of the finished project in mind, it may just make the going easier.

Don’t Hurry.

A thorough de-cluttering shouldn’t be rushed.  Yes, I want this project to be finished as quickly as possible, but by doing so, I may be unhappy with the final result.  I may accidently give away or sell an item that, come to find out, belonged to Great Aunt Rachel, is a  one-of-a-kind and has great value – either monetarily or sentimentally.  On the flip side, I may keep an item that has absolutely no use, but has memories attached.  Keep in mind that it took you a life time to collect all these things – give yourself permission to take the time to sort through them. From start to finish this project will probably take me one full year.  I have an initial goal of three months to clear away the surface items – mainly because Saturdays are the only day I have enough time to do this.  From there, I will allow something to stay for an additional six months.  The final three months will be used to determine if the remaining items still have enough value to stay.  If not, they will be put in a box and disposed of. Keep in mind.  If, within that six months, something is determined to be put in a box, I will do so without hesitation.

Be Prepared.

It is helpful to have boxes and/or bins on hand when you get started.  Place four on the floor.  Mark one for Garage Sale, one for Donations, one for Trash, and one for Family.  As you pick up an item, decide which box it needs to go into.  Once it goes in a box, it is required to stay – which is why you really want to take some time to decide.  It is possible to have a fifth box for storage, but set yourself a few ground rules.  Storage items should be limited to holiday items and things you may want to hand down to your own children someday.  If that is the case, give each category their own box.  Just set yourself a limit as to how many boxes can go in storage, or you might end up with a hundred boxes with that designation, which in turn defeats the main purpose.

One Room – One Section – at a time.

Each room will be divided into quadrants.  In each section, I will begin with surface things, then move to closets, drawers and under beds.  Each item will have to answer a series of questions.  Are you necessary?  Are you useful?  Can I live without you? (Not do I WANT to, but can I?) Will my Mother or sister kill me if I sell you in a garage sale?  If ‘no’ is the answer to any of these questions, (or yes, to Question #3), then in a box it will go.  From there, I will either have a massive garage sale or Goodwill will have a sizeable donation.

On the first pass, my goal is to clear out no less than 50% of the extraneous items.  After I have finished a room, I will make another sweep to see if there is anything else that can go before moving to the next room.  When the last room is finished, I will make a final pass through the entire house, then let it rest for the allotted six months.

 About those boxes. 

As you fill them up, be sure you put them in their proper place.  If they are being donated, go ahead and put them in your vehicle, and schedule a time to drop them off within the next day or so.  If they are designated for a garage sale, store them in a place where they are out of the way, yet easy to get to.  Check your calendar and go ahead and pencil in a date.  By doing so you will encourage yourself to keep to your de-cluttering schedule.  If they are items that you want your family to sift through, call them up and have them come as soon as possible.  In order to encourage them to come, let them know that if they haven’t gone through the items within a certain amount of time, they will be headed for the Garage Sale pile or the donation box.

 The best part about doing it this way is that you can schedule an hour or two in the evening, or a few hours each weekend, without tying up every free minute you have.  Some rooms, such as the bathroom, can probably be accomplished in one day.  Some may take a full day, so break it down to several three or four hour sessions.  And don’t worry.  You have time to get it all done.  Just don’t give yourself so much time that you give up before you get just one section of one room done.

Like this post?  Be sure to share it on Facebook.  Who knows?  We may end up having the cleanest houses in the country before you know it!