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With the holidays just a few short weeks away you are bound to have an influx of new items enter your home, limiting your space while simultaneously creating an organizational nightmare. These simple tips to help you de-clutter before the holidays approach will ensure you can maximize space within your home for the holiday season and beyond, alleviating the stress of living in a mess the whole year through.

Before you get overwhelmed by the thought of clearing out clutter, set up an action plan by dividing your home into sections, choosing one small area to focus on at a time. Then, within each area, create three separate piles to sort items into based on the keep, donate, discard principle.

Keep:

If you can foresee yourself or a loved one using a particular item for a specific and realistic purpose within the next 6 months, keep it. Remember, you are NOT keeping items you think you may use or would like to use. These are items you have a genuine plan and purpose for that you WILL actually be using. This is not an excuse to hold onto junk.

If the item is seasonal or particularly large (such as holiday decor or sports equipment), consider renting a self-storage unit in your neighborhood so that you have space within your home for items you need on a more regular basis. With sizes designed to fit nearly any budget, finding a climate-controlled, secured storage facility near you should be a breeze.

Donate:

If you do not have a plan or purpose for an item but believe it is well suited for someone else, consider donating it to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. These items should be in good to fair condition and of actual use to someone else in need.

Don’t forget, if you find a non-profit you would like to donate the items to, you may be able to deduct the items value on your taxes for the coming year. As always, be sure to speak with your tax professional for further guidance and information.

Discard:

While this part seems to be the easiest, it is undoubtedly the one that people struggle with the most. If you have no use for an item and cannot imagine someone else having use for it, toss it, and don’t look back. And if you don’t want to get rid of your items, you can always do as Ellen Degeneres says she does… “If you want to get rid of stuff, you can always do a good spring-cleaning. Or you can do what I do. Move.”

By continuously seeking opportunities to keep, donate and discard items within your home, you will no longer feel overwhelmed by clutter, during the holidays or the rest of the year.

Wishing you a happy holiday in your newly organized, clutter-free home!