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Tips & Advice on Decluttering Your Home

Are you ready to start the process of tidying up?

Tracy Block Staff Reporter
6 min read
HOW TO: Furnish Your Entire Home for Cheap! Using Apps on a Tight Budget
Organization isn’t about perfection; it’s about efficiency.
- Ashlee Hughes, co-owner of The Go 2 Girls LA

It never feels like the right time to do "spring" cleaning – especially smack in the middle of summer. However, a survey conducted by Offers.com reported that nearly 30% of US adults had decluttering projects planned in 2019. However, given the continued pandemic, tidying up statistics may be on the rise, considering the increase in homebodies seeking ways to occupy their time.

Is Now the Ideal Time to Declutter?

According to Hollywood, California-based life coach Betsy Rosenfeld Vargas, the pandemic has forced many people to confront the accumulations of their own possessions with more time spent at home. “The acquisition of new things gives people a burst of pleasure; albeit a fleeting one,” she says. “Before, we were able to ignore how much stuff we were amassing.”

So, what happens when you’re stuck at home (again) for weeks at a time surrounded by all of your stuff? The answer is: decluttering. “People have turned to decluttering as a way to bring in some joy, lightness, or even a much-needed sense of control,” explains Rosenfeld Vargas. Additionally, she says the process of tidying up renews a space and gives you an emotional bump without the price tag of shopping. “Seeing your space fresh and clean is an emotional reset.”

Nevertheless, the process of decluttering your home can seem stressful at first. “When you look at your own mess, fear and feelings and emotional attachments take over, eclipsing your rational brain’s ability to take on the task,” shares Rosenfeld Vargas. “A good coach, however, can also help their client overcome this challenge by breaking down the seemingly insurmountable tasks into a series of doable chunks.”

Considering the Current Climate & Asking for Help

Before you begin tidying up, Rosenfeld Vargas urges you to consider the current climate of the pandemic, including external pressures, as well as added responsibilities on your plate – like working full-time from home and managing your household. “Putting pressure on yourself that you should also be clearing out the garage or your closet when you’re really just struggling to hold things together won’t help you feel more productive,” she offers. “In fact, it may break you.”

Still, Rosenfeld Vargas says it’s important to consider that we are currently experiencing a period of communal grief. “Some people are grieving the loss of loved ones, and even more, are grieving for the way their lives used to be,” she explains. “That grief takes a lot of energy to process, and while decluttering may energize some, most stuff was accumulated as a means of soothing in the first place, so it might be relatively traumatic for others.”

If you are feeling overwhelmed and can afford help, the coach-client connection can provide both support and accountability, according to Rosenfeld Vargas. “And, accountability makes all the difference – particularly right now, when people feel more alone than ever,” she offers. While Rosenfeld Vargas says that in-person coaching is ideal, today, more and more coaches are providing assistance virtually, through the use of apps like Zoom or Skype.

Moreover, if you cannot secure an online coach to help you tidy up, Rosenfeld Vargas suggests tapping a friend, an accountability buddy, or a traditional organizer to “break down your clutter into manageable tasks you can accomplish, feel good about, and build on.”

Working With an Organizer

Luckily, if you need decluttering and organization assistance, there are personal organizers eager to help with the process. Ashlee Hughes and her partner (in life and in business) Stacee Hughes, are the duo behind The Go 2 Girls LA, out of Los Angeles, California. Their small-but-busy operation offers a personalized experience, as well as return clientele when reorganization is needed.

Due to the pandemic, the pair is now offering video chats, which includes home tours via laptop. “And, instead of working side by side with our clients, we wear masks and leave homework for them to do after we leave,” Hughes says.

Currently, The Go 2 Girls LA has seen a dramatic increase in clients who need home offices, or homeschooling and homework stations for the kids. “It’s also been a time for people to be proactive and tackle those overdue projects – like organizing the garage – which we are happy to help with, whether in person or virtually,” offers Hughes.

How to Get Organized in 3 Steps

If you’re uncomfortable with in-person assistance, fret not; you can declutter on your own. You can use a to-do list app before working your way through your home’s clutter, and according to Hughes, you can then get organized in just 3, easy steps. These include:

• Sort it: First, sort and categorize your items into piles with related items.

• Contain it: Next, contain those categories into their designated containers. Use dividers for drawers with multiple items – like office supplies – as well as large bins for bulky items – like sports equipment.

• Label it: This ensures the next person will know where to find something, as well as where to put it back.

Furthermore, if you’re having a hard time letting go of certain items, Hughes encourages you to find a place for them, instead. “Find the things that are always cluttering your space, and give them a home. If you always walk in the door with a backpack, try a hook to hang it up every time. Cluttered by paperwork? Try a filing system or office storage to coral the categories,” she says. “Organization isn’t about perfection; it’s about efficiency.”

Common Clutter & How to Purge It

As for the most common items that cause home cluttering, well, that’s a mixed bag. Hughes says she most commonly encounters:

• Paperwork, like mail and receipts.

• Keepsakes, like greeting cards and photos.

• Textiles, like clothing and linens.

• Perishables, like expired food.

For those items you decide to purge, you can designate them as piles of “Trash,” “Recycling,” and “Donations.” Or, if you’re interested in earning some cash for your items, you can also download an app like thredUP to sell various apparel.

And, if you’re working with an organizer, they will likely help you with these designated leftovers. “We want to leave our clients with as few steps as possible,” says Hughes. “So, if we can donate your clothing items to a local organization, or facilitate the shredding of your unneeded paperwork, or even schedule a large trash haul, we’ll strive to make it happen!”

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Tips & Advice on Decluttering Your Home