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Family is arriving for the holidays. Are you ready?

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When you have a goal of creating an organized space, it can be very tempting to drive straight to your closest Container Store. However, I plead that you refrain and start with decluttering first. First, you need to figure out what clutter is in your home.

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Clutter Defined

1. Something someone else thinks you need but you do not use

2. Something you believed you needed, but you don’t actually use

3. Items that are part of your dream life, but not your reality

4. Something you settled for and don’t truly love

5. An out-of-control collection

6. Duplicates

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Clutter is access that stands between you and a simplified life. Here are a few questions to ask yourself during the decluttering process.

Can you imagine opening your closet and seeing only pieces you love?

Or going to select a mug and your favorite ones are all that you have?

What if we emphasized quality over quantity?

What would it be like to only have things you truly treasure and love?

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What will life look like after all the clutter is cleared out and only the necessary and treasured remains?

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What would it feel like to not have to sort through all the extras to find your cherished belongings?

Now that you have a clearer sense of what clutter is, imagine your life without it.

Decluttering involves paring down your items by eliminating the excess. After decluttering, everything remaining should be items you use and love. There are various methods for decluttering your home. Select the best fit for you and your home. This will be your chance to donate the gently used items to your local Goodwill.

Overwhelmed by what remains? Go through and do another round of decluttering before moving on to organizing. If you get stuck, refer back to your goals and vision for the space.

Need more help?

The Simplicity Habit created a Your Home Decluttered workbook to help walk you through the decluttering process. It includes sections on setting goals, creating your plan, checklists for each room type, celebrating your victories, assessing your habits, and making sure you reached your goals.

Are those left-over items gently used? If so, Donate them to your local Goodwill!

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Now You can Organize

Organize so you can create a simple system of storage containers only for items that you need, use, and love. If you don't organize after decluttering, you are organizing too many things and it is much less likely to be functional or sustainable long term.

The secret to organizing well is having less to organize. You don’t buy the containers to fill them. That would be backward. Storage is designed to help you functionally organize what you already own. Storage containers can be any combination of boxes, bins, baskets, jars, etc that will work with what you have. Before going to purchase any storage containers, look around the house to see what you already own. Many of us who have too much stuff also have too many things to hold our stuff. Maybe you won’t need to buy anything new to organize.

Function First

Don’t be blinded by the beauty of storage containers. Think through the function of storage container options. You need a system that will be simple and functional. Pretty will just get annoying if it doesn’t fit or function properly. Low maintenance is key for creating a sustainable system. If pretty baskets and containers are your thing, definietly check out your local Goodwill. Otherwise, find yourself functional storage containers.

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Each storage container needs to have a distinct purpose and function.

When talking about organizing, not super flashy…making a system that will function well for you and be sustainable (less stuff=more sustainable)

Still stuck? Think about hiring a professional organizer if you are continually getting stuck as you declutter and organize. If that isn’t in your budget, find a friend who will walk alongside you at your local Goodwill and keep you encouraged.

To reiterate, decluttering is going through your things and getting rid of items you don’t want or use. The decluttering process needs to be completed before organizing begins. Organizing is creating a user-friendly system to store items. Remember to choose function first. The system that will be easiest to maintain will be one with fewer items, which is why the decluttering piece is so important. I hope that clears up the difference between decluttering and organizing. Both are important aspects of simplifying your house, but I, of course, would argue the emphasis is on the decluttering part.

Once you get your home decluttered and organized, don't forget to enjoy the time you spend with loved ones during the holidays. Christmas is the best time to spend time and create memories loved ones (friends and family) that you might not see all year.

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