clutter01 webIf you’ve lived in the same home for many years, you most likely have accumulated a lot of stuff: clothes, kitchen gadgets, files, shoes, picture frames, books, flower pots, tools…

The list can go on and on. You may be an empty-nester, possibly retired, and you no longer need the four-bedroom, three-bath house any more. You don’t need the Barbie bikes, soccer balls and the dozen yard rakes that are in the storage shed. But there’s a lot of work to do before you can put a for-sale sign in the front yard.

First you need to get serious about de-cluttering. In this sense, de-cluttering means discarding unneeded or unwanted belongings: cleaning out the closets, basement, attic and storage shed -- getting rid of the things that you no longer need or perhaps never used.

Purging your house of unneeded objects is a daunting task. You undoubtedly have a sentimental attachment to many items, but if you don’t face it now, you will be forced to do so later, perhaps at a time when you are no longer physically able to participate.

Getting started
Downsizing, transitioning to assisted living, or moving in with a family member are all effective catalysts to start taking inventory and ridding your home of excess stuff. Staging your home for sale demands de-cluttering.

If you are planning a move to a smaller space, you will no longer have room for everything. If you are planning modifications to your home so that you can age in place, you will need to consider safety, aesthetics and function, which means discarding unnecessary items, according to senior move expert Jill Kearney, Founder and President of Senior Moves by Design of Allentown, PA. Kearney has 10 years of experience helping clients plan and manage redesign and relocation, in addition to years of personal experience helping friends and relatives with moves.
(see seniormovesbydesign.com)

Yet another, even more important, reason to purge your old stuff is that it’s good for you! Multiple studies have shown that a clean house improves your health, both mentally and physically. “Keeping things clean and organized is good for you, and science can prove it,” reports Psychology Today in the article, The Powerful “Psychology Behind Cleanliness”
(tinyurl.com/yyz5c6pu).

Simply put, we feel better when our homes are organized. Relationships improve, stress levels in the home decline, and we are more productive.

The time to start is now
Once you are ready to start the process, how do you go about it? And how do you keep from burning out before it is finished?
“Start with a goal,” advises Kearney. You must visualize your new living space, whether it be a smaller house, a room or your current home, reorganized.

Whether you are planning on redesigning your home or moving, it’s never too soon to start lightening your load. Going through the process sooner rather than later gives you control over what happens to your belongings, according to Kearney.

When you take charge of the de-cluttering, you get to decide who will be the keepers of your most loved possessions. You can pass them on to a friend or family member who will use them with love, as you did.

You can also choose to donate belongings to charity, where they will supply a true need for someone less fortunate. You can prevent an accident or illness from allowing well-intended sons and daughters from throwing your grandmother’s antique rug in the trash or selling your father’s grandfather clock on Craigslist, for example.

Identify a process
Organizing guru Marie Kondo started a popular de-cluttering movement in 2014 when she shared her own “KonMari Method” with the world in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo maintains that we can’t keep an organized home (or workspace) if we don’t know how, and most of us have never been taught how to do it effectively.

She states that we expect to know how, without having been taught; and we are embarrassed if we do not succeed. Kondo’s simple philosophy is this: “Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.” (see konmari.com/pages/about). The order in which Kondo deals with household categories is as follows:

Clothes
Books
Papers
Komono (miscellaneous items)
Sentimental items
Kondo has specific recommended methods for every stage. You can learn how to fold clothes and store almost everything according to Marie (konmari.com), in her books and by watching her TV show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix.

The Internet, current magazines, book stores and libraries offer ideas aplenty for de-cluttering and re-organizing. Whatever method or methods you choose, start with the end in mind, and make a plan. Whether you choose the KonMari Method or design your own, the end result should bring joy and peace to your life.

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