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It’s finally summer — the kids are out of school and you are free to finally dig in and declutter the house! Here are 5 ways to make the most of your efforts.
Summertime typically creates a great time for families to declutter. Kids are either busy playing, exploring, or maybe even away at camp for a few days. There are no pressures of school or homework, and the weather is more temperate (in most areas!). It’s a fabulous time to take an hour or two and focus.
Step 1: Identify Your Goals
Success in life comes when you clarify and narrow down your intentions and desires. Set some specific goals in your decluttering. It might be big picture “downsize our possessions 10% over the next 3 months”, or project specific “make the kitchen cabinets 50% less cluttered this weekend”.
My advice is typically to use both types of goals. First, set an overarching big picture goal (long-term goal). Then start breaking it down in baby steps. What needs to happen to achieve your big picture goal? You may find you need to break it down into multiple tiers to bring real practical clarity to it. Walk through your space, list all the problem areas and dream of what you’d like the area to become.
Big Picture: Clean out the garage and attic during the summer
• Get rid of most things we have not used in the last 6 months and don’t plan to use in the next 6 months
• Create an accessible, safe place to store long-term or keepsake items
• Create a useable workspace for projects
• Open up space to park a car in the garage
• Walkthrough tossing any garbage into a bag (1 hour)
• Go through cabinets and bins to discard things we haven’t used and won’t use in the immediate future (4 sessions of 1-2 hours each)
• Decide on a yard sale, donation, or selling on Marketplace (list items as you come across them)
• Pull out keepsakes or long-term storage and pack them carefully into weatherproof bins
• Evaluate large items in the garage for usefulness and sell/donate what we do not use (1 hour)
• Set a deadline for selling items and make sure everything is gone by that date
Step 2: Pick Your Method
Now that you have your goal set and plotted out the steps to make it happen, it’s time to pick your decluttering method. There are many ways to motivate decluttering. You can ask what brings you joy (KonMari), you can do the 30-day Minimalist Game, you can do deep dive days/weekends and knock it out fast, or you can take 15 minutes a day and go slow.
The method doesn’t matter–it only matters that you go with what works for you and get started. As a busy mom I’m a fan of baby steps and slow decluttering, but if the kids are away at camp or grandmas, that may be the perfect time to jump into an 8-hour decluttering blast. Mix and match as needed and just start somewhere!
Step 3: Set a Timer
Whether you have 15 minutes or 5 hours, you can make the most of every minute you dedicate to your decluttering project. The key is staying focused. The best way I’ve found to do this is setting a timer. This is very crucial if you have less than an hour, but I encourage you to set a timer for 55 minutes even if you have several hours.
Working in shorter spurts of time gives you focused energy. At 55 minutes, take a quick break to stretch, get a drink of water or use the restroom. Then jump right back in for another 55 minutes.
If you have 15 minutes, make sure you pick one baby step goal to work on. Don’t walk around the space looking at all the problems (you should have already done that in the goal-setting part). Get right into a small space and start sorting and making decisions.
Step 4: Make Decisions
The hardest part of decluttering. Making decisions. I know, it’s brutal! The emotions, the indecision, the what-ifs and but somedays. They will stall you out fast if you let them. Try to make quick decisions.
Ask questions like:
• Did we use this in the last 6 months?
• Will we use this in the next 6 months?
• If not, when in the future would we use it? How likely is it that this will ever happen? (Hint: If it’s not a definite possibility, it’s probably time to let go)
• Is this item replaceable?
• Do I need this physical item to remember a memory, or could I take a picture, look at a scrapbook, or watch a video to spark the memory?
• Is this item bringing value to my life, or causing more of a burden?
By asking yourself (or other family members) these questions, you’ll get a sense of the weight of the item you are evaluating. You’ll realize that it is either taking up your time, money and space, or adding some kind of value to your life.
Things that just take up space are draining your resources — let them go!
Step 5: Catch the Momentum & Keep Going
The most exciting part of decluttering is when you start seeing that “let go” pile grow and you feel the adrenaline pumping. Oh that’s so much fun! The more you declutter, the more you want to get rid of and the momentum will keep rolling. You’ve got this!
Be ruthless as you purge. Find the freedom in letting go. Your goals can be met. You can love the open space around you. Your home doesn’t have to be a frustrating place. You can take back your freedom, one item at a time!
Need more decluttering motivation?
• Clearing Clutter from Your Life Using the Quick Win Principle
• How to Ditch Buyer’s Remorse & Declutter Guilt-Filled Items || Tips from a Professional Organizer
• The 5 Questions You Need to Ask when Decluttering Kids Toys