Decluttering is the number one task to get ready to sell your house, but it should be a process that is considered throughout the year. Downsizing every season can keep your home in tip-top shape and reduce massive build-up in unnecessary products or junk.
If you’re about to reorganize, consider these 10 decluttering tips!
PICK A CATEGORY
If you’re not accustomed to reducing your belongings throughout the year, decluttering can seem overwhelming. At some point, you will get the urge to throw everything out. Resist that urge.
Instead, pick a category to focus on. If you’re organizing your bedroom, start with your clothes and only work on your clothing. If you’re organizing your at-home office, start with your junk drawer. Don’t move onto another area until the first one is completed.
Staying organized will reduce stress, plus it helps manage time.
DOES IT SPARK JOY
Sentimental people tend to have a harder time decluttering. Having strong emotional connections to products is completely valid and shouldn’t scare you from downsizing. Instead, take a tip from the KonMari method: consider how much and how often the product sparks joy. If it’s a little and/or not very often, it’s safe to say you can live without it.
Still, having a hard time throwing away items? Check out tip #4.
HOW OFTEN IS IT USED
When sorting through products try to remember the last month each product was used. Seasonal products can be kept for 1-3 seasons. If you didn’t wear a winter coat one year—you probably won’t the next. If you didn’t go snowboarding one year—you might go next year. Everyday products should have a shorter timeline. If your juice cleanse lasted for 3 months but stopped 6 months ago, will you start it again? Probably not.
This task will be easier if you track products throughout the year:
Clothing: once you wear an item, hang it the opposite way.
Kitchen Appliances/Utensils: store them on a different shelf once they’re used.
Food Products: label cans of soup, sauces, spices, etc., with the date you bought them.
Toys: store recently used toys in a different bin.
After 3 months (or however long), you will know what your go-to items are. This will also help you gauge an accurate shopping list.
STORAGE BINS AND LABELS
While you’re decluttering, thoughts like “this is such a waste” or “this was so expensive” will cross your mind. Get a couple of bags or storage bins and label them ‘Sell’, ‘Donate’, “Re-Gift’, ‘Keep’ and ‘Toss’.
Re-gifting is a great eco-friendly alternative to donating or throwing away products. Tossing a costly item or something with sentimental value can be difficult. Knowing it will benefit a friend/family member should bring peace. You get the bonus of saving time and money on gifts.
Re-gifting items can be kept in a labelled box in a closet or garage. Same with the items you’re going to sell, but make sure you take pictures and note the details beforehand. Items that are being donated, can be moved to your vehicle so you can drop them off on your way out.
Once you see how small the ‘toss’ bin is, your guilt will be put to ease.
SHOULD I UPGRADE THIS?
Penny-pickers are amazing, people who budget are amazing, those who care about sustainability are amazing, but hoarding is not amazing. Everyone has to let go of their belongings. If it’s time for an upgrade, it’s time to let go. Some common items that need upgrading are furniture, appliances, storage containers/shelves, and technology. Furniture can and should last a long time, but not forever. If your couch has wrinkled leather, pilling fabric, or stains—you have two options.
- Option one: fix it. Call up a local upholsterer/cleaner and see if they can work any magic.
- Option two: get rid of it. Bring the item to a local recycling center, donate it, gift it to someone who can repurpose it or sadly, send it to the dumpster.
Do you know what’s not an option? Keep it in your basement and cover it with an old sheet so it can collect dust for the next five years. The same method works for appliances and electronics.
Don’t lie. You have old, stained, plastic food containers in your kitchen cabinets. They are saved for private use when no other dishes are available. You cringe every time you see it. You don’t dare smell it. You use any lid that fits (or kind of fits) because the original one is long gone. This needs to go. For so many reasons. Most importantly, it can be upgraded to glass—which has several benefits.
Storage containers and shelving units that don’t match the current decor, tend to get pushed to an empty closet or the garage. They hold useless garbage and aren’t touched for ages. They need to be repurposed or upgraded. Preferably to something that follows the room’s theme and that you enjoy looking at. That way, it’s front and centre, full of useful products.
Technology is always being enhanced. Who can keep up? Literally no one. Should you toss your device and get the newly released version? Hard no. Your budget will be out the window. What you should do is upgrade and recycle old technology. It’s not necessary to have a busted laptop that barely holds a charge, just so you can store your photos on it. Storing photos to the cloud or using a USB thumb drive is just as good and takes up less space.
Make a list of the electronics you want to upgrade, create a budget around said list, and start tackling it.
Change is hard, but embracing technology can save space and reduce your waste. Too many documents and photo albums? Scan them and store them on the cloud or USB sticks. Too many CDs and DVDs? Download them as digital files and add them to your computer/laptop/phone. Too many books and magazines? Switch to a Kindle or subscribe to magazines digitally. Too many random notes on scrap paper? Start tracking your reminders through your phone.
We all love to feel a bit nostalgic, holding a physical item can kick-start that emotion, so keep your absolute favourites as a hard copy.
DON'T FORGET BOXED ITEMS
Decluttering is for every room and every space. Don’t forget your closet, under your bed, and most importantly your garage. Aka where all of your hidden, but boxed junk lives. We all throw random items into a box and hide them in our house. Whether it’s tax-related papers, memorabilia from when you were 10 years old, or a mix of supplies that you will continuously look for, but never find (how many scissors have you bought in your lifetime—the only answer is too many).
These types of boxes aren’t opened for months, sadly, sometimes years. They have moved around, been transported to different houses, but never opened and resorted. Now it’s time. Open those grungy boxes and start sorting.
HAVE YOUR SUPPLIES READY
Choosing to declutter is half the battle. Being ready and actually decluttering is the other half. Before you start ripping apart your room, emptying your drawers, and throwing clothes everywhere: make sure you’re ready.
What you need: storage containers or boxes, labels, pens, markers, scissors, garbage bags, comfy clothes, and possibly a glass of wine. Label all of your containers and boxes beforehand, keep specific boxes in their matching room/area. Put away supplies that you don’t need.
Staying organized is crucial when you’re decluttering. A clear space will bring a clear mind.
If you can’t find a large stock of random papers, old magazines, sticky notes, and/or opened mail, you’re not looking hard enough. Every single person has a supply stashed somewhere in their house. Once you find the stash(es), you’re faced with the tedious task of reading and sorting the paper.
Que the glass of wine because this is the most boring task of decluttering.
Separate the paper into different piles: garbage, recycling, scan, and file. Consider having a small expanding file in your pantry or hidden in your living room, so you can file coupons, mail, or random notes you need to keep.
Bringing all of your hidden rubbish to the light of day can feel suffocating. Spiralling, drowning, or being overwhelmed by your products, is completely normal. Reducing your belongings sounds calm and ordinary, but in reality: you will break attachments, feel embarrassed by the garbage you’ve collected and become bored with the task.
Setting goals and tracking time will cut down the drawbacks. Make a list of the rooms you want to declutter, starting with the most important to least. Have subtasks of the areas you want to focus on. Set a completion timeframe and a reminder to throw the garbage and recycling out. You don’t have to reorganize your whole house in one go. Making a weekly or monthly goal that is dependent on your schedule is more realistic.
Your list could look something like this:
Master Bedroom: Complete within 2 Days
Clothing - Approx. 2 Hours
Storage Boxes in Closets - Approx. 1.5 Hours
Nightstand Drawers - Approx. 30 Mins
Child’s Bedroom: Complete in 1 Day
Clothing - Approx. 1 Hour
Toys - Approx. 2 Hours
Kitchen: Complete over the Week
Pantry - Approx. 2 Hours
Dishes - Approx. 1 Hour
Drawers Approx. 2 Hours
Consider the time it takes to remove everything from its storage, categorize it, put everything back properly, and discard the junk. Don’t start a task unless you can complete it within that time frame. If you’re having a hard time coming up with ideas on what to reduce, check out the KonMari checklist.
While you’re decluttering, consider long-term solutions to hoarding habits and create boundaries. Retail therapy is consuming your closet? Limit yourself to one shopping trip per month. Junk mail is stacking up? Sort and file miscellaneous paper in your expanding file every week to eliminate clutter.
Toys are taking over the room? Go through toys before every holiday and birthday, decide if there are any that can be donated.
Decluttering Should be Therapeutic
Implementing our 10 tips for your decluttering task will help you stay organized, give you direction, and bring clarity. The process can be a lot to handle, but there are ways to make tedious tasks more enjoyable. You can take this on with a partner or drink two glasses of wine instead of one. We’d love to know your decluttering tips or fears; send us a DM on Instagram!