Who doesn’t want a more organized home? We all do, of course, but we hate to tackle the clutter until it makes life really miserable. We are hoarders by nature, no doubt – unless, of course, you’re a certified minimalist – but a bit of organization can free up quite a lot of space that you can put to better use. It is especially important to pay attention to those areas in our homes that we can easily conceal from neighbors and friends, and even ourselves. Places such as closets, attics, basements and garages. These spaces can easily become forgotten, especially if they are loaded with stuff. Here is a simple plan of attack that you can use no matter what type of space you want to declutter.
Where to Start
There’s no hard and fast rule here, but time and necessity are deciding factors. If time is your driving factor, a large area like the attic may require an entire weekend or more, but if you have only a few hours to spare, start with an overcrowded closet. But if your goal is making some space for a work station or for storing camping gear, you may need to tackle the garage or the basement.
Starting with large storage spaces has some advantages. For one thing, you will be full of energy and determination as you start out. Secondly, you may be able to get rid of a lot of unnecessary stuff at one go, giving the space a new look in the process, which invariably translates to a great sense of achievement as well.
Make a Plan
When you’re on a war path with clutter, it requires a well-defined plan of action. Plot on paper the different sections for sporting goods, hobby stuff, home repair essentials and the like. Or each member of the family can be assigned a small area each for personal stuff, and another larger one for household things of common use.
Set Up a Refreshment Stand
Stock snacks, water and other drinks in the venue so that you don’t have to step out of there and risk getting sidetracked by less important things. Focused and time-bound efforts bring in the best results.
Evacuate the Field
The most effective way to organize a space is to start with a complete evacuation. There’s a special reason for it that we will come to in the following section. You can enlist the help of others and use trolleys to take the stuff out and arrange it on tarps or old bedspreads.
Things that are already segregated should go together, and mixed stuff should be kept on a separate sheet. This will give you a rough idea about the space each section would require, but don’t rush out to buy storage containers yet. When everything is out, you may want to thoroughly clean up the space or even spruce it up with a coat of paint.
This most painful part of the whole process is the most important too. This is where our evacuation plan comes in handy. If you ask your family members to just remove all the unwanted items from the room, they’ll insist that every rusty nail is a keeper. But once we have everything out first, and then ask them to move in only what each person needs, you’ll find a lot more stuff discarded without a second glance. If they are not worth the trouble, they are definitely not worth keeping!
Have 3 large cartons labeled Sell, Donate and Discard. Then pick up each item and see if it’s store-worthy. If it’s broken or damaged, and you have not attended to it for over a year, you probably never will. Discard immediately. Things in good condition can either earn you a dinner at the end of all the hard work, or make you feel happy when donated to charity. Whatever you do, these cartons should never find their way back in.
Once you have only the essential stuff remaining in each tarp, head out to get stackable and transparent containers suitable for different sets of goods. Allot wall space lined with pegboards for tools that can be hung up, and get plastic drawer sets for frequently used items. Sports paraphernalia and cleaning equipments can go into large bins for easy accessibility.
Arrange the Stuff
Rarely used things should either go to the bottom of a stack or, if the drawer sets can bear weight, go on top of them. Labeling gives more clarity. When you have finished arranging each section, you may find some extra space, but don’t be tempted to save some of the discarded stuff.
Organize Smaller Storage Areas
If you believe in using every possible space for storage, you could end up with a hundred items, – which you never even knew you had – under your bed. But once you’ve successfully tackled a large storage area, closets and under-the-bed-storage will be a breeze if you’d just stick to the evacuate-purge routine.
The key to getting yourself organized is to put your mind to the task. Be 100 percent committed and remain motivated to the task. Solicit the help of a friend or family members who can help you stick to the task at hand and before you know it, you will have uncovered a ton of lost space!