realADVICE: Removing the obstacles to removing the clutter


Just about everyone knows that if you’re getting ready to sell your home and move, clutter is your worst enemy. It not only makes your home look smaller, dirtier and less appealing to prospective buyers, but also makes packing a nightmare.

On the other hand, an uncluttered, tidy home is so much more pleasant to live in even if you’re not moving, so why don’t we all do more decluttering? Here are the main roadblocks and how to overcome them:

  • Feeling overwhelmed. You may have so much clutter that you don’t know where to start, but the longer you procrastinate, the worse it will get. So don’t aim to clear your whole home in a day. Aim to spend a couple of hours a day decluttering for the next few weeks or even a few months, and then just pick one counter top or one cupboard or one room and get cracking. Your goal will become clearer (and your home tidier) with each small step that you take, and each small success will reinforce your motivation to keep going.
  • Not being organised. It’s no good just putting all your clutter in one big pile to be sorted out “later”. Rather sort as you go and be strict with yourself about sticking to three categories – items to keep, items to donate or sell, and items to throw away.
  • Being sentimental. We are often tempted to keep certain things because of their “sentimental” worth – which actually means the memories that are associated with them. However, there are lots of ways to preserve these memories without keeping the item itself – like taking a digital photo that you can archive and look at any time you like. Obviously you should hold on to valuable items that are real heirlooms, but for the most part, old toys, clothes, ornaments and kitchenware should not be in your “keep” box.
  • Being slow to move things out. Once you have a cupboard or a room done, you shouldn’t let the unwanted items sit around and create a different kind of clutter. Start selling things online or take the donate/sell pile to your favourite charity, second-hand shop or car boot sale, and make sure the rest goes to recycling or the dump. This is an important part of the overall decluttering exercise.

Not maintaining. Once you've cleared, tidied and cleaned your whole space, don’t let your guard down. We all tend to accumulate things and its imperative to keep decluttering every now and then – or you’ll just end up feeling overwhelmed again.

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