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New Years Resolutions for your Home, Part 1: Decluttering

Remember the prime directive of maintaining a clutter free home: A Place For Everything and Everything in its Place.With all the Christmas hustle behind us, many of us turn our thoughts during the last few days of the year to New Years resolutions. It makes sense. The closure of the old year, with its own unique successes and failures, leads us to want to design the new year in our favor. We want to do better this year than last year. So we swear off sweets, pledge ourselves to a daily exercise regimen, plan to save more money or finally take a vacation.

These are all admirable goals, but this year, consider making some resolutions for your home. After all, nearly every aspect of your life centers around, or at least involves, your house. You keep your clothes and supplies for work there, you do your cooking and eating there, you play with your kids there, you entertain friends and family there, and you sleep there every night. A renewed home environment can increase your focus, save you time and money, and give you a fresh outlook on life. Over the first few weeks of January, I’ll be offering a series of blog posts on things you can do for your home this year- that will change your life around! None of them are that hard to accomplish, but each one of them could really pay off in the long run. Today, we’ll look at the issue of clutter, and how to follow through on a resolution to declutter your life!

It happens to everyone at some point. Your belongings have accumulated to the point that you’ve got things spilling out of closets and you can’t quite close your dresser drawers. Maybe your kitchen cabinets are stocked with blenders, waffle irons, juicers and panini presses that you’ve only used once since you bought them. Maybe your children’s bedrooms are so overflowing with toys that cleaning seems impossible. Maybe your garage is so full of stuff you’ll never need that there’s no room for stuff that ought to be kept in the garage, like your car. And speaking of cars, are you one of the many people whose car trunks have become catch-alls for random articles that your in-house storage systems can’t accomodate?

If any of these scenarios describe what’s going on at your house, then you could definitely benefit from a serious decluttering session. It may seem overwhelming, and it will probably take a good chunk of your time to complete the mission, but it is so much easier in the long run to take a weekend or two to get rid of excess stuff than to have to deal with it all year.

Here are some tips for decluttering:

Do one room at a time. Separate items into three piles: keep, toss, and give away. Optionally, you may want a fourth pile for a yard sale or to sell on Craigslist or eBay. The only challenge here is to make sure to go ahead and sell these items, and not let them create yet another clutter problem.

If you’re having trouble figuring out what to keep, take a step back and try this technique: Take all of the things you think you might want to get rid of, and put them in boxes in the garage, attic or spare room. Over the next 1-3 months, if you find yourself in need of one of the items, go and get it and don’t put it back when you’re done using it. At the end of the month (or two or three), you’ll know which items you would miss if they were gone, and the rest can be taken to Goodwill.

If you’re having difficulty convincing your kids to whittle down their stuff to a manageable number of belongings, allow them the option to put things in storage, with one caveat: if they want to retrieve something from storage, they have to trade it for another item of similar size.

Probably the most important thing you can do to maintain a clutter-free home is to remain on alert after you’re done decluttering. How does clutter accumulate in your life? Are you a compulsive buyer? Do you have well-intentioned relatives who are over-givers? Do you struggle to say “no” when a friend offers you a bag of hand-me-downs, not wanting to be impolite? Remember, it’s your life, and your home. It’s okay to say no, even to Grandma! It might not be a comfortable conversation, but it will be better for you and your family in the long run. And next time you feel compelled to buy something that you’ll probably only use once and then shove in the back of the closet, never to see the light of day, remember what a chore it was to declutter the house, and leave the item at the store!

Again, it’s probably not going to be the easiest thing you’ve ever done in your life, but it WILL be worth it! Check back next week for the second post in the series, where we will discuss the logical next step after Decluttering: Detoxifying your home!

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