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The Process of Decluttering or Downsizing in Five Easy Steps

Mary Holmes

It is common for most people to look at the project of decluttering or downsizing and not know where to begin. It can definitely be overwhelming and quite stressful, so quite often, the project ends up on the back burner. At Integrated Move Management, we love helping people make sense of the task and reducing the associated apprehension. Here are some guidelines to get your started:

Sort by Room – Some experts recommend sorting through items by type, i.e. gathering up all clothes, books, etc., and sorting through them so you can keep the selection you truly love. In our experience, this is quite overwhelming and not as rewarding as sorting room by room. If you start in a room (or closet, basement, attic, garage, etc.) and work your way around, you will feel like you have made some real progress with your decluttering.

Touch It Once - The goal should be to make a decision on each item and stick with it – only touching each item one time. The sorting categories include whether you would like to keep an item, gift it to friends and family, sell it, donate it, or recycle or trash it. You should have a system to keep organized when going through the room. Bags and boxes designated for each category is your best bet – use labels, colored dots, magic markers to ensure each is clearly marked.

Say Bye-Bye – Once you have sorted through a room, make an effort to remove it from your home, except, of course, the items you are keeping. Have a plan for each sorted category: ask your friends and families to come pick up what you are giving them or research and execute a shipping plan; have a plan to transport items to donations sites or find out if they will pick up at your home; if you don’t have curbside trash and recycle pick up, research the least expensive facility to drop off your items.

Start at the Extremities – Since decluttering or downsizing can be a difficult and often emotional process for most people, starting in the basement, attic or garage can be a good place to begin your sorting. There is a good chance that items in these areas don’t get used very often or at all in the recent past and will be easier to part with to make some progress. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you have made some progress, you will get into a rhythm and feel good about the process.

Maintain Progress - After you have made progress, it is important to maintain what you have done. You will probably agree that doing this project once is enough! One way to ensure you don’t end up back where you began is to remove something from the house every time you attain something new – either through a purchase, gift or inheritance. For example, if you buy a few new clothing items, donate a similar number of clothes that you haven’t worn much in the past year.

If you are ready to get started decluttering or downsizing (or even if you feel you are not quite ready) – call us to help get you started so you can make real progress. Contact Us through our website or call us at (207) 865-4493.

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