Being confined to your home during the COVID-19 outbreak isn’t fun, but you can make the most of your time by being productive. Start with clearing out your clutter. Organization expert Ashley Gude provides a number of suggestions for individuals who are cleaning out and organizing their homes (or a loved one’s home).
While decluttering can make a person feel great in the end, it is important to have realistic expectations about how long decluttering is going to take. Ashley says clients who have taken 25 years to accumulate a basement full of stuff are going to need more than a week to clean out that space. “It’s going to take time to go through the process,” she says. Trying to declutter too much in too short a time can result in frustration, which could then mean that nothing gets accomplished.
Ashley suggests people start with the easiest spaces first, which might be a junk drawer or a small hallway closet. Keepsake items such as photographs or mementos are generally going to be harder to sort and part with, so she recommends these be kept until later (or last). It is important for each individual, however, to recognize what items have special meaning for them. If a person adores clothing or books, he or she may actually have a harder time parting with these things than “traditional” keepsake items.
“Curate” Rather Than Eliminate
“The household tells a story; it’s their history and memory,” Ashley says. She says clients sometimes don’t want to make decisions about their stuff and would rather just pass it down to their children. Unfortunately, the younger generations of adults don’t want oversized furniture or items that Ashley says “have a big footprint.” Adult children and grandchildren frequently gravitate toward smaller, distinctive items instead of dining room tables and armoires.
Ashley uses the idea of curating to help her clients think of the items in their homes. Just as a curator would select specific paintings to feature in a gallery, so does a homeowner when they declutter, picking the best, most relevant, and cherished items for their homes. She reminds homeowners that their adult children and grandchildren are creating their own memories and curating their own lives, so they don’t want to have exactly what their parents or grandparents had in their homes.
Reward Yourself Along the Way
Few people like to tackle a big decluttering job, so Ashley suggests that homeowners reward themselves during the process. They should make the environment fun. Playing music or having a favorite beverage at the ready during breaks is important to keep decluttering from feeling like a drag. “Enlist the support of a friend,” Ashley says. Having someone who is not related and can stay objective helps people make better decisions as they declutter and makes the time pass more quickly.
Read Part 3 here.
BY CARRIE VITTITOE | PHOTOS BY MELISSA DONALD