Decluttering: A transformation that will change your life
Originally posted on KW Professional Organizers' blog.
If you are ready for change, congratulations!! You have the most important piece to get started in this transformation “The right mindset”. It’s just a matter of time for you to conquer the clutter!
Fun Exercise: Sit in a relaxed position. Take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes. Visualize a space in your home that you want to change. Visualize that space the way you would love it to be. Functional, inviting. Imagine yourself in that space doing what you love, no clutter, no distractions. How do you feel? Let’s make it happen!!
During this stage, it’s very important to always remember:
Why are you decluttering? What is the final goal? Why did you decide to do it?
Please write it down and put it where you can see it. It’s going to be a journey full of emotions and challenges. Remember to take a deep breath, to take a break, to do something fun every time you get stuck and don’t know how to move forward.
If you didn’t read our blog post “Understanding clutter”. Please do. It will help you have a better understanding of clutter.
We are going to share with you EVERYTHING that we know from our experience doing decluttering sessions. We LOVE doing this! We have seen such amazing transformations. We are catalysts for change and our goal is to see you succeed!
Not sure if you can do it yet? Read Kim’s story to get inspired: A successful fight against clutter.
Let’s get started!
But... How do I get started? Good question. This is probably the most difficult step.
Every situation is different. And every person functions differently. Before deciding where and how to get started these are some steps that we follow:
Discovery Session. Defining your goal. Be specific. What is your desired outcome? What do you want the space to look like? What activities would you like to do? What do you love and what do you hate the most? Starting a decluttering session without having a clear understanding of your goal won’t be very successful.
Picking a space. It’s very powerful to be able to start and finish one area for you to experience a functional and inviting space. This will empower you to keep going with other areas. What is your first priority? What space can you benefit the most from? What space is going to bring you the most JOY?
Get others involved. If you are living with others, please make sure to get them involved. Everybody has to be on the same boat. Make sure to have conversations prior to and understand their needs. No one will support you if they are not a part of the process.
Help. Yes, getting help makes the process so much faster and fun! Having someone else will help you feel supported, have extra hands, help you keep the motivation going and keep you accountable. Finding the right help is very important. Share what you are doing with your friends and family members. This will help you be accountable to yourself and to see who can be the right fit to help you. Hiring an organizer it’s always an option too. Be sure to meet them before to make sure they are the right fit.
Schedule the right amount of time. Be realistic. This is a tough one. It will depend on how fast you make decisions, how much help you have, and how many items there are in the space.
Before and after photos. Taking before and after photos will help you see your accomplishment and will motivate you for future sessions.
It looks like you are on track and ready to get started with hands on work. This is the process we use:
Set up a station. If possible we always set up a folding table in the space we are working on. We only deal with the items on the table. This will help you keep focus and don’t feel overwhelmed. Under the table, we have a few bins (donation, recycling, garbage, shredding, belongs in other space, to give to someone, to sell) Every situation will require some or all of these bins. If you have clear space in the room or close by in another room you can make piles on the ground too. If there is no space for this station you can make do without it.
The “wave process.” Start on one side of the room and do a wave touching everything in the space: Do I need this item? Does it belong in this space? Put the item in the proper pile. If you are unsure make a pile of unsure items and go back to it later. Taking a photo of an item can help you keep the memory of it without having the physical item. Keep working with the items you know for sure what to do with them.
It normally gets messier before it gets better. Don’t panic, things will look messier during the process. Allowing time to clean up and place things where they belong at the end of the session is very important.
Keep aside any organizing product you may find until the end of the process. You may be able to use it during the organizing process.
Find a “Home” for every item that stays in the space. Once you have decided what stays, it’s time to find a place to store every item. If you don’t have enough storage space or you require additional organizing products please read our post “Organizing: The art of bringing functionality and joy into your life”.
The benefit of help. Having 2 persons helping you will make a huge difference. One person can be at the table helping you make decisions. The other person can be bringing stuff to the table and placing stuff in the proper pile, taking it outside to the trailer/truck or moving it to another space if it belongs there. It’s such a powerful and fast process. Magic will happen around you :).
Keep a to-do list. Always keep a to-do list. Write down every task that you need to do with the items. It will help you get things done and make smarter decisions. At the end of the session make sure to schedule all the tasks in your calendar. Most people will decide then to let go of more stuff that they were unsure of before when they realize how much time it’s going to take to deal with them.
Unwanted items. If you know for sure there will be a lot of unwanted items to go for donation/auction/consignment/recycling we always bring with us a trailer or a truck and move these items out to free up space. At the end of the session, we will take them with us.
Items for private sale. Make sure to have them listed and hopefully gone before the session. If you can move them to another space (garage/basement/empty room).
Storing items for someone else: Give them a deadline and make sure they are gone before the session. Move them to another space if that’s an option. They need to understand that you are dealing with clutter and working really hard to get your space back. Their stuff it’s not helping you accomplish your goal.
Paper: Dealing with paper can take a very long time and you won’t see immediate results. We recommend putting the paper aside and deal with it in a future session.
If you are dealing with paper you may benefit from reading “Tips to win the constant battle against paper clutter.”
We hope this post helps you get started and conquer the clutter. Happy journey!
Samantha Kristoferson & Emilio Jose Garcia are co-Founders of KW Professional Organizers, providing personal, home, & business organization solutions for individuals who are ready for change.
They have been fortunate to be the catalyst for positive change in hundreds of individual’s lives and influenced thousands through their blog.