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A recent report polling more than 100,000 Americans found that nearly half considered their home to be filled with items they no longer needed, with 1 in 7 stating they have a room that’s out of commission since it’s filled with unnecessary stuff. “A majority of Americans (72 percent) believe they would gain more space in their homes by purging unused items, but 41 percent of Americans haven’t decluttered for over a year.”

Research has shown that clutter can be a major source of stress, playing “…a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.” With health and wellness at the forefront of everyone’s mind for 2021, there’s no better time to get your home organized and clutter free than the New Year!

First, divide your home into smaller, more manageable zones to target so that you do not get overwhelmed by trying to tackle every room at once. For example, Zone 1: Kitchen, Zone 2: Family Room, Zone 3: Foyer, and so on. Then, spend 15 minutes a day (however many times you like) clearing out a specific area within that zone, until that entire zone is decluttered and organized (such as a drawer, closet, or cabinet). When you are done, move on to the next zone.

When focusing on any one area, sort items into three separate categories:

  • Items to keep: Belongings placed within your “keep” category should consist of items you have used within the past 3 months, or have a genuine plan and purpose for use within the next three. If you haven’t used it (and do not plan to), it’s time to make other arrangements…not excuses!
  • Items to donate: If you have not used an item and do not plan to, can someone else make use of it? Consider donating it to a local non-profit organization. Depending on the item, you may even be able to deduct it on your taxes (speak with a tax professional for more information).
  • Items to discard: If you can’t use an item – and no one else can, get rid of it (and don’t look back). As you sort through the items you are getting rid of, do try to address the reason behind holding on to them for so long (was it a lack of time to clean, or a search for happiness?). Try to find the root issue so you can make  changes to your behavior moving forward.

Larger ticket items, such as sports equipment, camping gear, or seasonal décor may not be as simple to sort through since these items are only used for a short period of time each year. For items such as these, consider renting a local self storage unit, allowing you to maximize space within your home for items you do need to use on a regular basis. Since storage units are climate controlled and under 24/7 security surveillance, you can also rent them to store collectibles or memorabilia that is important to you and your family. This is especially helpful if you live in a smaller home or apartment.

Remember, decluttering isn’t a once and done type deal. Once you have tackled every zone within your home, keep the cycle going – addressing the main areas each day, alongside those dump areas that tend to pile up. By adhering to a cleaning plan, renting nearby self-storage, and taking care of clutter in real-time, your home will be a place to re-energize and refresh in 2021 and beyond!

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”-Oprah Winfrey