Purge-atory or “How to get your home back.”

Spring has sprung - it’s time to start fresh. Whether it’s getting your home ready for sale, moving, or just feeling overwhelmed by your possessions, it’s time to shed the weight! The items that clutter your home can clutter your life, and mess can lead to stress. So if it doesn’t add value, get rid of it.

Starting the decluttering process can seem like a daunting task, so we often give up before we begin. Check out these suggestions for freeing yourself of things that have been hanging around and dragging you down:

Make a plan -Write down all the rooms or areas of your home that you want to organize.

Prioritize spaces to be organized. Are some a ‘complete disaster’ but others ‘slightly annoying’? Tackle the biggest messes first.

Address one room or area or at a time, and set a realistic timeframe to accomplish tasks. If it’s a garage or storage room, for example, this could take several days.

Use a system - Separate items into three piles and label bags or boxes to help with sorting. ‘Keepers’ go in pile 1. ‘Toss’ goes to pile 2 and ‘Storage’ goes into pile 3.

Keepers -Dig deep in your heart - is it something you truly cannot live without?

Toss - You can donate, free-cycle, recycle, e-cycle, have a garage sale or offer it on CraigsList or NextDoor. For large amounts, a dumpster of the Got Junk guys may be in order.

Storage - store items in easy-to-stack containers with labels and an inventory list taped to the front.

The 80/20 Rule - It applies to things too: If you don’t use it 80% of the time, find it a new home elsewhere.

Get over it - If you’re holding onto something because you feel guilty about how much you’ve spent on it, consider it sunk cost. The item is only weighing you down and taking up valuable psychic and physical space.  Let go of the item and the guilt!

Does it work? If it doesn’t work, either fix it immediately or move it out.

Does it spark joy? As tidying expert Marie Kondo asks, do you love it? Does it make you feel great? If not, bid it adieu.

Clear flat surfaces -Organize things to put away or discard.

Keep similar things together. Knowing where things always are reduces stress. Keep it simple, and keep it in the same place all the time with the same things.

Be the gatekeeper- Now that you’ve gone through the painful process of decluttering, keep clutter from coming back. Before allowing something into your house, ask yourself if you really need it, and if you do, where you’ll keep it.

One in, one out-If you bring something home, something equivalent must leave.

If you need something only occasionally, don’t buy it: rent or borrow it.

Ask for help -The decluttering process can be difficult, but there’s strength in numbers. Professional organizers can be very helpful. If hiring a professional is too costly, invite a close friend with good organizational skills to offer impartial advice as to what must go and what can stay.

Be OK with imperfection. Once you let go of all the stuff, it’s like shedding that extra ten pounds. A sense of relief and of joy will wash over you. When you reach your decluttering goals, reward yourself with an experience and not a material item. You’ll find the process easier as you succeed!