Spring Organizing Challenge
Happy spring!! I love spring and the emerging green colors I see, the reclaimed time spent outdoors with my family and the longer daylight hours in the evening. Truth be told, I also love that spring is a time when we tend to evaluate and take extra care of our belongings. Home repairs are planned for, garden beds are spruced up and our off-season belongings get a fresh look see.
In the real estate world, spring is also known as the busy season. You can see it happening all around you…Open House signs become more prevalent and word of friends and families looking to sell or buy become topics of conversations. People are actively looking to move into homes that better suit their current family needs. Growing families are looking for more space and empty nesters are downsizing. All this moving leads people to take a closer look at their belongings. And that’s where I come in.
Spring is also one of my busy seasons. I am often hired to help homeowners get their homes uncluttered and organized prior to getting it to market. I come in with a fresh set of eyes and help them address the items that frankly don’t show their homes in the best light possible. I work with my clients to de-clutter playrooms, bedrooms, closets, counters, mantles, you name it! And after a LOT of decisions, donations, and candidly a lot of work….my clients typically say something to the effect of, “I can’t believe this is my house, now I don’t want to leave! Why didn’t I do this sooner?!”
This makes me wonder…
Why does it take a move to get us to evaluate our belongings on a big scale?
I don’t have the degree or the research behind me to say definitively why this is the case but based on my experience I have a hunch and it’s multifaceted.
When faced with an impending move…
- We want a fresh start in our new space without the clutter. (Desire)
- We have a given amount of time to address our belongings. (Deadline)
- We are forced to decide if something is important enough take it with us. (Decisions)
Ok, so you would love to declutter and get more organized but what if you’re not faced with an upcoming move to get you motivated? Simply put, there’s no urgency or priority given to addressing the doll collection you once loved but don’t cherish anymore or the stack of race t-shirts collecting dust on your closet shelves. Without an impending deadline or motivation of a new space, the clutter in our lives often just doesn’t get the attention it deserves. In fact, according to a 2016 Statistic by OfferUp, nearly half (48%) of Americans consider their homes to be at least somewhat cluttered with items they no longer use. And a majority of Americans (72%) believe they would gain more space in their homes by purging unused items but 41% of Americans haven’t decluttered for over a year.
So…what to do?? Time for an Organizing Challenge!
Well, if you are planning on moving you probably already have the desire, a deadline and know you have to make decisions. For the rest of us, we need to create them. Whether you are moving or staying, follow these steps below to guide you along the way.
Spring Organizing Challenge: 5 Steps to Decluttering & Organizing Your Home This Spring
STEP 1: DETERMINE YOUR GOAL
If you’re moving, you probably already have the desire to have a fresh start in your new space. For the rest of us staying put, what are you hoping to achieve by decluttering and organizing? Is it a light and fresh space? The home you envisioned when you first moved in? Get clear on your goal here. This is where your motivation lies. (For more on Goal Setting & Achieving read my blog post here.)
STEP 2: CREATE A DEADLINE
If you’re moving, your deadline is relatively clear. Ideally, you want your home in tip top shape prior to hitting the market and at the very least as lean and organized as possible before the moving trucks arrive. For those of us staying you will need to set a date to have your project completed by. I encourage you to plan a party or have some friends over on a certain date. This will be your deadline. Or you can choose to have an accountability partner (a friend or family member supporting you) and decide on a final day to review all that you’ve accomplished. It’s important to be realistic here. If your goal is to cull and organize your whole home, two weeks will likely not be enough time if you have a full schedule as it is. Be realistic and adjust your deadline if you find you need to and are able to.
STEP 3: CREATE A LIST & SET ASIDE TIME WEEKLY
Whether you are moving or staying, you will want to take out a trusty notebook or better yet save the paper and use a list making app on your phone like wunderlist and compile all the rooms and/or projects that need to get addressed. Mark your calendar and set aside time weekly to start knocking out the projects on your list. Keep in mind that sorting, culling, and organizing often takes more time than you expect. Add some buffer time whenever possible.
STEP 4: SORT, CULL, & ORGANIZE. REPEAT.
Now to the fun part! Decisions! Ok, I lied. Decisions are not so fun. Deciding between strawberry or vanilla ice cream, that’s fun. Making decisions on expensive clothing that you once loved but doesn’t fit anymore, or figuring out if the bed linens you have actually fit your current beds, or sorting old baby clothes that are just too cute for words…well, that gets a little trickier and much less fun. BUT, it needs to get done because you have the desire to address it! So, within each room, project or category you will follow the same process.
- Sort – all items into like categories.
- Cull – all items that are no longer serving you. This is where you create:
- Donation piles
- Sell piles
- Recycle piles
- Trash piles
- Organize – once you have dealt with all items you have culled and left with only keeps.
Most people who fail time and time again at organizing skip the crucial steps of sorting and culling. You simply cannot organize your belongings well if you haven’t taken to time to really determine if your belongings still fit with your current lifestyle.
When sorting it’s important to sort your items by how you use them. Warm weather clothes get addressed together not mixed with your dressy items. The same rule applies to all areas of the home. When sorting kitchen items, address all the mixing bowls together, serving dishes together, and so on.
When culling, I’m often asked what my rule of thumb is on letting things go. “If it hasn’t been used for a year should it go?” I wish I had a standard answer to give but I don’t. There are just too many variables. As a loose guideline, I believe the things you keep should fit your current lifestyle, make you happy or fulfill a need. Once you have your Donation/Sell/Recycle/Trash piles it is very important to follow through on addressing those items. If they are not addressed completely they run the risk of sneaking back into your closets and creating clutter all over again. If you get stuck looking for resources for your items, feel free to drop me an email. I would love to help you if I can.
Once you are onto the organizing phase you are ready to containerize your belongings. I know it is more fun to start this process by just buying new cute storage bins, don’t fall into this trap until you have sorted and culled your belongings. Only then will you know what types of containers you need, if any at all.
STEP 5: CELEBRATE!!!
Woohoo!! Once you have finally made it through your home and determined that all your items fit your current lifestyle, make you happy or fulfill your needs, it’s time to enjoy your clutter-free space! Whether it’s for a short time as you prepare to move or for many years to come, make the most of it! Have some fun with your loved ones and share your decluttering experience. I bet they would love some inspiration to tackle similar projects at their own homes.
So as a quick recap, these are 5 Steps to Decluttering & Organizing Your Home This Spring:
- STEP 1: DETERMINE YOUR GOAL
- STEP 2: CREATE A DEADLINE
- STEP 3: CREATE A LIST & SET ASIDE TIME WEEKLY
- STEP 4: SORT, CULL, & ORGANIZE. REPEAT.
- STEP 5: CELEBRATE!!!
If you’re planning to move this year, I hope you enjoy the process of decluttering! It will showcase your home and give you a sense of lightness you’ve probably been craving. If you’re planning to stay, I encourage you to do the same 🙂
What space are you eager to declutter this year? I’d love to hear about it in a comment below.