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New Year, Same ‘Ol Clutter: Decluttering Tips & Tricks

new-years-resolution-how-to-declutter

With a new year comes a revived motivation to better all aspects our daily lives. Every year, when that clock strikes midnight, signaling the passing of the last minutes of December 31st, we all make our vows for the year to come– loose weight, save more money, be more adventurous or whatever it may be. But, what are you doing about that pile of unaddressed junk that you’ve “been meaning to get to?” While you are making that New Year’s Resolution List, take some time to assess any/all clutter in your home and see what you can do to organize and declutter your space.


Consequences of a cluttered home:

  • Limited air flow– You always want to optimize airflow and circulation throughout your home to aid moisture control and mold prevention. Clutter tends to obstruct airflow and increase the risk of moisture buildup from humidity and condensation.
  • Difficult cleaning– More stuff means more surfaces to clean and more obstacles to maneuver around to access everything for cleaning purposes. It is a hassle to get into all the nooks and crannies to make sure everything is cleaned thoroughly. That is, if you can reach it at all.
  • Hidden problems- Difficult to access areas also mean difficult to see areas. All that clutter can be covering up hidden property damage that should really been addressed as soon as possible. As you remove items from your home you may discover signs of water damage or mold development that would have, otherwise, gone unnoticed.
  • It is just plain stressful– Clutter means chaos. The anxiety of rummage through stuff to find that one thing that you need or the constant lingering thought of “I really need to get rid of some stuff” (but never doing so), it’s enough to really stress a person out.

Home Decluttering Tips:

  • Make a list:
    • Lists are great for three reasons:
      1. It is incredibly satisfying to cross things off a list as you complete each task.
      2. It establishes a game plan and keeps your end goal in perspective.
      3. It holds you accountable and increases the likelihood of you actually completing the tasks.
  • Know your limits:
    • Set reasonable expectations and tangible goals for the project. It is easy to get overly excited at the start and set too high of expectations for the final results.
    • Unattainable goals will only leave you overwhelmed and drive you to give up on the task before completion.
    • For example: Do not immediately run out and buy all these fancy organization and storage systems right away. Take some time to assess what you have and what you want to get rid of. THEN determine the most practical approach to organizing and storing everything.
    • Break the project down into multiple, smaller parts if it seems more manageable that way. This way you you can set smaller, intermediate goals  for yourself, which may help motivate you to keep moving forward.
    • Don’t be a hero. If you are up against a pretty decent sized cleanup that seems
  • Sort your stuff:tips-to-declutter-home
    • Establish a sorting system for your stuff.
    • For example: Set up boxes and label them: “keep,” “storage,” “donate,” etc. 
    • Sorting your items will help the break down a large cleanup into smaller, more manageable tasks.
    • Be sure to transport full boxes to the designated locations IMMEDIATELY so they don’t just end up sitting around waiting for your next New Years Resolution.
  • Rule of Thumb:
    • Develop general guidelines of what to get rid of.
    • For example: A good rule of  thumb for clothing– If you haven’t worn it within the last year, chances are you won’t ever wear it. Get rid of it! Or old, unused electronics– most likely they don’t work or are too dated to be practical anymore. Get rid of it!
    • Be honest! Don’t try to justify keeping items that you know you don’t need. If you have to think about why you “need” to keep it, you should probably get rid of it.
  • Practicality:
    • Some organizational tools and methods work great for some and not so great for others. Make sure you organize your stuff so that it is most suited to your needs and most functional for your daily routine.
    • A practical system will help you maintain the organization year-round and avoid the need for a major cleaning project once a year. Just because some DIY blog says it is the best way to organize your home, does not mean it’s the right way for you. If an organizational system does not make sense to you, you are going to have a difficult time keeping up with it.
    • Also, be practical about what you bring into your home everyday. Just because it is on sale, does not mean you NEED it.
  • Regular Maintenance:
    • Make a it habit to routinely assess your stuff.
    • Regularly assess your home and get rid of anything you think you don’t need. Don’t put it off and convince yourself that you will get rid of it eventually… you won’t.
  • Don’t forget the attic, basement and crawl space:
    • It is easy to forget to organize these spaces (especially if they are unoccupied spaces in your home), but remember that these spaces are the most vulnerable to moisture buildup and mold development.
    • IMPORTANT: when organizing your main living spaces, DO NOT simply toss all your unwanted items into your attic, basement or crawl space and consider that “storage.”
    • Attics, basements and crawl spaces where not meant to be storage spaces (as convenient as that may be). These spaces need sufficient ventilation, continuous air circulation and consistent moisture control. Storing an excessive amount of stuff in your attic, basement or crawl space can negate all moisture and mold preventatives.
    • If you need to use these spaces for storage, be cautious about organization, placement and quantity to maintain effective air circulation.

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