An Introduction to Home Decluttering

Let’s be honest, we’re all culprits of having a little hoarder in us, and most of us know what it means to have some junk lying around the house. Some of more than others. Irrespective of how much stuff we have, we can all gain from getting rid of clutter and extra things we don’t need anymore, or things we haven’t used in eons. Clutter is anything you’re keeping around your house that doesn’t add worth to your life. Decluttering is all about making space in your home for the things that matter. 

However you define it, clutter be detrimental to your health. Mess causes stress: people tend to feel like life is out of control when they surround themselves with more things than they can handle. 77 Great Estates wanted to look into ways and means to do away with this bane once and for all. Thus, we decided to discuss certain issues and answer basic questions many of us have probably posed at some point or other. 

1. Set goals

Prior to getting started, make a plan. No matter how many rooms or how much clutter you need to get through, starting with explicit goals will help you make a plan that will diminish any frustration as you go. Here are some things to remember as you get started:

• Jot down all the rooms and ‘clutter hot-spots’ you want to tackle.

• Give each space a grade based on the severity of the clutter. 

• Focus on one room or space at a time.

• Set completion dates for each phase of your clean-up. Be sure to pick dates that are attainable so you don’t feel overwhelmed. If you make it into a declutter challenge for yourself.

• Allot specific time slots to work on particular areas when you expect decluttering those spaces to take longer than a few hours.


2. Fashion a Categorisation System

As you go through the rooms and spaces, you’ll need a system for sorting the items you discover. Create a method which works best for you. Alternatively, you can use the ‘Three-Box Method’ of sorting clutter. This method forces you to make a decision item by item, so you don’t end up with a bigger mess than the one you started with.

The Three Box Method 

Keep – items you keep should go in their newly designated box. Optimally, these objects should be stored neatly in a container or drawer. It’d be a good idea to label this box.

Get Rid of – store any items you want to give away or sell – either put them in the car or store them temporarily in a garage or box-room.

Storage – after you complete a space, as you fill your containers, label them or drop an inventory sheet on top and neatly put them in this box.

You have a few choices for disposing of things that make their way into the “Get Rid of” box:

• Recycle – recyclable glass, plastics and paper can go straight into your recycling bin. Otherwise, put your recyclables in bags so you can transport the waste to your local recycling skips.

• Donate – you can put your mind at rest knowing that something you no longer need is going to a good home. Clothes, shoes and other household items in good condition can be donated to a number of local charities. 

• Have a Garage Sale – if you’re up to the task, you may be able to make a little money off your clutter by having a garage sale. Just make sure you begin your declutter process early enough so you can participate.

• Rent a Skip – This is an affordable, stress-free option, especially if you have a lot to throw away or bulk refuse you’re throwing away. If you don’t want to go through the cost and hassle by yourself, see if you have a neighbour or two who’ll split the skip rental. 

3. Commit to get rid of the junk

If you’ve got clutter, we’re certain you have some ‘junk’ you can chuck. Making the decision to get rid of your old things may actually be the hardest part of decluttering. If you’re like most people, you have trouble getting rid of something that you spent your hard-earned money on, which you once used or loved. Many items you find will have more than just a monetary value –they will stir up memories and have sentimental value too.  Mentally prepare yourself for decluttering and keep the following concepts in mind when you are struggling to part with something you haven’t used in a while.

Get over sunk costs. Economically speaking, costs that have already been suffered and cannot be recovered are referred to as sunk costs. As you go through the items in your house, most things should be considered sunk costs, except of course for rare situations where an item may have increased in value. Since you cannot get the money back that you spent on that item, you should only think about the value that thing can add to your life in the future. Understanding this notion of sunk costs can help you make more cogent decisions about what to keep and what you should throw away.

4. Decide what to keep and throw away

See if it works.  If whatever treasure you found tucked away in your house doesn’t work, get rid of it. If you want to fix it, then do so, but don’t let it sit in your house for another month gathering dust.

Think of the last time you used it: If you haven’t used something you come across in the last 6 months, you should probably throw it away. And if you didn’t even know you still had the item in question, you should definitely get rid of it – you didn’t miss it enough to justify keeping it.

5. Clear off flat surfaces

Counter tops, shelves and other flat surfaces are clutter-magnets. Letters, bills, magazines, small appliances, and knick-knacks are some of the items that tend to take up flat surfaces. But is that really the best place for them? The answer is usually no.

If you need to keep a few things on the counter tops, that’s fine, but make it an aim to free your flat surfaces of most clutter. Make space in drawers or add small boxes or bins to your shelves for paper documents. Only keep frequently-used, essential small appliances on kitchen countertops –the remainder should be put away.

Many people like decluttering because it alleviates stress by creating a sense of control and achievement. Some people may just need to purge before they move to a new house. Ultimately there is no better feeling than having a cleared up and organised home. This is particularly applicable to home owners who aspire to attract potential buyers. 

For more tips and tricks for home decluttering, be sure to check out our blogs in the coming weeks, because we have many more words of advice to share. And remember, whether you’re interested in buying or selling property in Malta or Gozo, 77 Great Estates has a wealthy portfolio of homes. Our experienced real estate agents are always ready to lend a helping hand. For more information, click here.

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