How many times have you thought about the clutter and realized it was time to clean it, but for some reason when you go to clean it, don't have the energy to clean it anymore? There are studies into the effects of clutter on the mind and your energy levels. It is very common to be overwhelmed by the large task ahead and decide to put it off until a later time. Having a plan, a system, and support goes a long way in accomplishing your goals of decluttering you home.
First decide your goals and your plan to achieve them. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you just trying to make room for new things or a new use of the room? Are you planning to move and are looking in downsizing to prepare for the move? Are you decluttering to get more use out of the current space? Try to plan your goals to decide how much clutter should be removed and how you will remove them. If you are downsizing, you will probably need a dumpster or a truck to remove the items to either a storage facility or donation center. If you are just looking to get more room out of the current space, you may want to investigate organizational tips, containers, and tools such as a label maker.
Feeling overwhelmed is the one of the most common reasons people don't declutter and give up. Starting small and never stopping are ways to combat the feelings of being overwhelmed. If it is a room that is overwhelming, then pick an area to start with and only clean the area. It could be as simple as clearing off a table or a shelf. Don't finish and not pick it back up, keep the momentum going. If you finish the table, move on to something else if there is time. If time doesn't permit and you have obligations such as work during the week, then try decluttering 1-3 things a day. Try to pick things that need removal and discard them or place them in a container for donation. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." - Lao Tzu. I would like to add that the journey doesn't end if you take a few steps every day.
Determine What is Clutter
Define what your clutter is to yourself. How long do you keep something that you no longer use? When do you throw away sentimental clutter such as cards? Are your decorations out of style or no longer desired?
Closet Clutter -
Take all your clothes on hangers and place them the opposite way as usual. When you take an item out and use it, it should be returned in the original way you had it. If you take an item out, but don't use it, it should go back in the way you took it out as you didn't use it and it still might be clutter. Determine an appropriate length of time for you. It could be a month or two or seasonal, you will see all the hangers still in the opposite way as clothes you don't use and probably should be discarded or donated.
Label Maker and Out Dated Clutter -
Do you have a collection of something like DVDs/Blu Rays? When is the last time you watched all of them? Use a label maker and mark the day you label them or started labeling them if it takes a few days. Create a new label every time you use the item. Give it some time and check back at the dates, do you really need all the items in the collection if you haven't used them in a long time?
Sentimental Clutter -
Sentimental clutter can be difficult to let go of because of the emotional attachment to them. It isn't usually an actual attachment to the item, but rather an attachment to the memory of the person, moment, or idea that the item represents. If you were given a stuffed animal at an amusement park, it's the memory of the moment you don't want to let go of. If you have a clutter issue with all the sentimental items, here is a tip – take a photograph and a note. Take a photo of the item and make a note of the day, item, person, or idea that you remember and why you kept it. Putting down the memory you are trying to keep on the note will ensure if you look at the photo and note, it will still have the impact you desire without taking up all the needed space.
Use a System
Having a system to remove the clutter will help kept you on track and focused. There is a popular system known as the 3 bin or container method. This method entails taking 3 containers labeled: Keep, Store, and Remove. While going through your clutter you place items into one of the containers. The items in the container labeled remove could be discarded or donated.
Keep the motivation going to help overcome being overwhelmed and stay on track of your goals. This is an easy thing to overlook but one of the hardest. How many people start going to the gym for a week, but never return? Staying motivated is very hard for people but there are a few tips and tricks that help.
Keep Routine to Keep Momentum -
Keeping consistent will eventually make it a habit. Cleaning 1-3 items of clutter everyday will keep the momentum going.
Use Visuals -
Having a checklist or a calendar with small goals will help keep the progress going and help determine if you are falling behind and might need some professional cleaning help.
Use a Support Group
If you are being overwhelmed by clutter, you are not alone and there are support groups online and some local ones. Talking to someone who also is going through the same issues as you can help and also keep you both motivated. Support groups can help provide answers to questions you don't know you have yet.