Clutter causes added stress and disorder to what is often an already chaotic lifestyle. Creating a place where you can relax and rejuvenate will do wonders for your mental health. Studies have shown that clutter increases stress hormones and negatively affects your ability to concentrate.
Decluttering involves streamlining what’s in your home. You want to achieve a somewhat minimalist look.
Where to begin
Remember, this doesn’t need to be done all at once. Sometimes thinking about a task as huge will put you off starting at all! Do one or two things a day and you will soon start to see an improvement in the level of clutter. Start with just one room rather than the whole house.
Start with surfaces
Dining tables, coffee tables, benches and desks seem to be the place where miscellaneous items live. Start by clearing these off (you can leave a couple of essential things on there). That in itself should make a noticeable difference.
Next remove everything from the floor other than rugs and furniture.
After that, you may want to start with a bookshelf, kitchen shelf or drawer, wardrobes or bathroom cabinet or counter. These places also tend to house a lot of unused items that build up over time.
Throw away, sell or donate anything you don’t need
This is a key step in decluttering a house as many people want to hold on to as much as possible. Don’t keep items that never get used. Catalogues, newspapers and other miscellaneous papers can pile up. Excluding sentimental items, get rid of items that have not been used in the past year. For clothes, use the reverse hanger method – turn the hangers of your clothes to face backwards, then once you wear a piece, turn it back the other way. After a year, you will see what you haven’t worn in this time. Put these items aside and have a garage sale or donate clothes to Lifeline. If you have a shed or storage area, you can keep them here temporarily (temporarily is key here)!
Not sure about some items? You can start a box for “maybe” items. However, if you still haven’t used any of it in the next year, it is probably not worth keeping. Sort your boxes into the following categories – bin, keep, relocate, sell and donate.
Think about how you want the room to look
What do you need in the room and what can be tossed or stored? What looks out of place? Once you’ve visualised what needs to be there, remove the rest.
Once it looks how you envisioned, step back and admire your hard work!
Less is more
Having too many items in your house increases how cluttered it looks. If you look at images of designer homes, they only include a minimal amount of furniture to make the space look nice and tidy. Keep things simple. Do you really need three sets of kitchen utensils? One should be enough. This will make it so much faster to find the whisk when you’re baking a cake.
Also, next time you want to buy something for the house impulsively, don’t. Go home and think about it for a few days and then decide if you still want or need it. Often, you will find that you don’t have a craving to buy it anymore.
Use storage spaces
Store things away. Keep one cupboard for all paperwork. You don’t want bills and bank statements strewn all over various tables around the house. Keep them together. Then you can find it when you need it, which seriously reduces stress. You may also like to file them into different types – put manuals, warranties and receipts in separate sections – manila folders are great for this. Portable filing boxes are also fantastic as they can be easily moved to any room. Stackable storage boxes are another way to save on space.
Get an in-tray for papers and keep it on a table in the foyer. This will give you a tidy, easy-to-access spot for important papers such as bills to pay.
Get the household on board
Got the place looking impeccable? What’s the point of you doing all this work when it is going to look just as messy a few weeks later? Teach your significant other and the kids where things go from now on. It takes some effort on everybody’s part to keep it looking nice.
On the whole, this may be somewhat unrealistic but at least try to get everyone to start learning good habits and be enthusiastic about it rather than nagging them. Alternatively, do more frequent tidy ups or give each family member the responsibility of keeping an area of the house tidy. Put a day in the calendar each month for everyone to do a quick tidy up of their designated spot.
What not to do when decluttering
Declutter the house before buying new storage items or furniture. You want to know what you have left that needs to be stored, not what you have to store before you’ve thrown out most of it. If you enjoy shopping, think of the shopping as a reward for tidying your house. Ensure the items fit the space first. You may want to take some measurements before heading to IKEA.
I mentioned storing items to be discarded temporarily in a garage or storage space. You must not leave it there. If you are having a garage sale, make sure to set a date for the sale. If it is to be donated, put it in the car and take it to the donation bin. Rubbish and recycling should immediately be put in the correct wheelie bin. Finish what you start, otherwise you’re simply moving the clutter to another part of the property.
Any progress is good progress. Don’t be disappointed if it is still a little unkempt. A spotless home is unrealistic, especially if there are children and pets in the house. Aim for a space you can move around in easily, that has things stored away as much as possible and is generally just makes your home feel less chaotic.
Book a cleaner
HomeTask’s home cleaning service is an easy way to make your house look fantastic. Simply book online and a professional cleaner will vacuum, dust and clean surfaces, polish, tidy, spot clean and take out the trash. Steam cleaning is also available.