Decluttering Diva's 10 Dos and Don'ts

      Do change your focus!

      • Decluttering is not a punishment or burden! Focus on the feeling of being liberated from so much stuff rather than a loss. Having a lot of stuff can really weigh a person down and there is a tremendous sense of freedom in having less. Making room for other things in your life is a treat not a torture.
      • Sometimes in order to actually SEE the clutter, we need to change our focus and the way we look at a space. Some great strategies can be found here Some of the best ideas include imagining a toddler is coming over- what would you need to move or get rid of to make it safe? Also, taking high resolution photos of each room can help you notice stuff as you look at the pics later on.
      • Instead of thinking how much you might miss an item, ask yourself honestly how much you would pay for it right now if you saw it in a store. this can help you realize that you likely wouldn’t buy it if you saw it in a store.

      Don’t confuse needs with wants!

      • Differentiating between your needs and wants, especially those of our kids, can be a deeply emotional and difficult task but one that really pays off in the end. We may think we’re doing the right thing by giving our kids all the stuff we never had but ultimately they never really need as much as we think they do and their appreciation for what they have tends to be better when they’re not overwhelmed with everything they ever wanted.
      • No one in the world needs 7 white shirts. Pick the one or two that feel most comfortable and donate the rest. Take this same approach with every piece of clothing in your home. If you haven’t worn those old jeans for more than 6 months, it’s time for them to find a new home in someone else’ closet and free up some space in yours.

      Do find a schedule/routine that works for you!

      • Some folks like to take a whole day every few months and do a grand decluttering (when my kids still lived at home we used to call it the Great Purge of 2015- or whatever year it happened to be) and others prefer to take a few minutes every week so it never builds up. Either way is fine, as long as decluttering is seen as a regular and ongoing routine in your home. You may want to create a schedule that has your family focussing on one room a month, just don’t forget to include the outdoor space as well as we can accumulate clutter in and around the yard without even really being aware of it, especially if you have kids and/or pets.  Some great checklists for routines can be found here

      Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale!

      • Getting a “great price” on something you don’t need and will never use is NOT a great deal, it’s just a waste of money and space. Sure, it’s amazing when baby shampoo goes on sale for $0.99 but if you don’t have a baby, you wasted a dollar you could put towards something else and just cluttered up a shelf in your home for no reason.

      Do have a system!

      • One of the simplest, most effective decluttering systems I’ve seen is the “container method” which basically means you get 3 containers before you start: marked “Donate”, “Garbage” and “Keep”. Once you pick something it up, it HAS to go into one of the containers. Once everything in the room you’re doing has been sorted, you actually go throw the garbage stuff out (even if it means you take a trip to the dump or get it out to the curb for the truck), and you actually donate the pile by dropping it off (here in Lanark County I donate my goodies to the “As Good As New Store” to benefit Lanark County Interval House) today rather than tomorrow. In the “Keep” pile, make sure to find a good home for everything.

      Don’t save things that are broken or incomplete!

      • Here’s a little secret…you will NEVER find the lid to that one piece of tupperware and it is completely useless without it so let it go. One mitten, even though it was your favourite, is not going to be able to do it’s job so why hang onto it? Have a look through the kids toys, board games, kitchen cupboards, shed, garage etc…and anything that is missing parts/pieces has got to go. You will feel a huge sense of relief and get to avoid that nagging feeling of “I wonder where that _______ went?” every time you see it.

      Do have a set place where everything belongs!

      • If everything in the home has a pre-set place where it belongs, you start to notice really fast when you’re getting to much stuff and there isn longer any space for new stuff. This is a sign you will be aware of that you need to get rid of something before any new things can come in. When all the bungee cords and rope are kept in one spot, you really can tell when you have a enough and the bonus is that you know exactly where to find one when you need it!

      Don’t forget the recycle bin!

      • Always open mail right beside the recycle bin so unwanted mail can go straight in, along with empty enveloped from the mail you are keeping
      • Keep the recycling bin handy for kids emptying their school bags as well since many of the notices parents get from the school can go right in there after they have been read once.
      • Also remember there are only so many glass jars and washed out yogurt tubs you can keep to re-use so feel free to recycle the rest even though you think they may someday be useful.

      Do have fun while you declutter!

      • Play your favourite music while you sort. You know, the kind of music you crank really loud and sing along to in that embarrassing but awesome way you do.
      • Give one thing away every day for a year; to charity, friends, family, neighbours, local school…it doesn’t really matter who you give stuff to, it just feels great to pare down your stuff and make someone else’ day at the same time
      • Issue yourself little time challenges and rewards to yourself i.e. if I can get this closet sorted, purged and done in 2 hours, then I get to take myself to a movie/concert/dinner etc…
      • Invite a close friend to come and help (or even just watch you) so you can catch up and chat your way through the decluttering (a glass of wine or some chocolate never hurts this process either)

      and most importantly of all Don’t feel like you’re stuck and have to figure it out alone!

      • There are so many great websites and blogs dedicated to helping us declutter our homes, our lives, heck even how to declutter your facebook page! So use the help that’s out there and don’t get so overwhelmed or discouraged that you let your clutter rule your life. Try or
      • You can also feel free to ask a realtor for their help in deciding how much stuff is too much stuff! We Realtors have a way of looking at homes that others often don’t. We can spot the clutter and offer suggestions that can help your home look more inviting to potential buyers or just make it feel roomier for you and your family. I'm happy to offer suggestion if you need it.

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Brenda MacDonald-Rowe

Brenda MacDonald-Rowe

CENTURY 21 Explorer Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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