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Smart Spring Cleaning: How To Declutter And Renew, From Home To Your Office

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Apr. 20 2022, Published 8:05 a.m. ET

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Warmer weather, fresh air and the clean slate of a new season seems to inspire the urge in many of us to get out the vacuum and get things clean and organized. As a home organizer, I’ve felt the bug many times myself and helped others approach decluttering to-dos with vigor.

Now that the bug has bitten me again, I thought I’d share some of the best tips I have for helping you get your place in order with my own tried-and-true methods, along with some of the latest new trends and methods for the best and easiest decluttering of your life.

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1. Plan your space before you start.

First, ignore the clutter and just look around the room. What purpose does the space serve? Does that extra bedroom need to pull double-duty as an office and guest room? Do you plan to use some portion of the room as functional storage?

2. Determine your organizing style.

Everyone has a different organizing style. You can’t really know what that style is until you try things out, but you can make some decisions before you work to figure it out before you get started and potentially waste hours or money.

Look at your home and your decorating style. What do you love about your spaces (even the messy ones)? Are you looking to upgrade the looks of your spaces or are you happy with your style? You want your organized space to be pleasing to you when you're all done.

Consider these options:

  • Color-coordinated spaces: Using color to style your home, from clothes in the closet to food in the pantry
  • Style-forward spaces: Using modern furniture and organizing components to create a post-modern, farmhouse, mid-century or other look with your organized home
  • Sustainable spaces: Using the latest and greatest sustainable resources to get you organized
  • Clear views: Clear containers for all your organizing needs are all the rage this season
  • Vertical spaces: Using those walls to organize with unique components to create a clean, welcoming space
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3. Organize bit by bit.

Personally, I recommend choosing a portion of one room at a time and approaching that with a singular objective. Instead of thinking about the whole room, think about one aspect of the room at a time, like the desk, closet or dresser.

Or you can KonMari your home and organize by category instead of room. Personally, I like this method because it reveals all I own and allows me to see what items are in the best shape and what I don’t need. After all, I don’t need seven ugly Christmas sweaters.

4. Take breaks as you go.

As you work, make sure you take plenty of breaks to help keep the sense of overwhelming down. I like to organize a space in 20-minute chunks of time, with breaks of five or ten minutes between, or working on non-organizing projects in between.

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5. Give yourself a deadline.

Every time I leave a client’s home, I give them “homework” with deadlines. This helps keep them on track for getting things done in a timely fashion. This could be to sort one dresser drawer a day or organize one box from the storage room a day.

6. Say goodbye To everything without a “home.”

If an item in your home doesn’t have a proper place to go permanently, it’s time to say goodbye. If the item is something you really want to hold onto, find it a home and chuck whatever’s in that space.

7. Try the 12-12-12 challenge.

The intent of the 12-12-12 challenge is finding 12 items daily to keep (and then put away properly), 12 items to throw away and 12 items to donate. I like to tweak this method into 5-5-5 multiple times a day if you work from home. Doing this helps you get up several times during the day while you work and helps you get through the house a little faster.

8. Maintain with the "one-in, one-out" method.

Unless you’ve got a mansion that needs to be filled up with new items, applying the "one-in, one-out" method is a great way to maintain your space.

If you buy something (or make a great find on Freecycle), be sure that the new-to-you item replaces something you’ve already got at home. New sweater? Get rid of an old one. New chair? Chuck that old, raggedy one in the corner.

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By: Rita Pike

Rita Juanita Pike is the granddaughter of Jerrie Mock, the first woman to pilot an airplane around the world. Rita has taken inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theater, podcasting, and novel writing. She now writes about travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves a very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.

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