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Decluttering your home can be a time-consuming process, but it will leave you feeling much more organized and motivated in your space.

Beginning the process of decluttering can feel daunting. Nobody wants to face the reality that they should get rid of unused items that they’ve been holding onto, whether it’s the vintage lamp from the grandparents sitting in the garage or a 10th pair of blue jeans. 

Heed these professional tips to tidy the house in the most efficient way possible: 

Know your goal and where to start

It’s important to figure out which space you are trying to declutter. Is there one particular area you want to work on, or does the whole house need to be reorganized? 

If you’re working on the whole house, it’s best to start in the place that feels easiest to you, said Jennifer Truesdale, a certified professional organizer who runs STR8N UP Professional Organizing Services in Charleston. “The kitchen and pantry are often a great starting point because there are clear expiration dates on perishable items. 

“You also tend to have fewer emotional attachments to these types of items, compared to say clothing or memorabilia,” added Truesdale, who also is a board member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. 

Katie Pyne, owner of Room for Peace Organizing in Mount Pleasant, also said that before you start the sorting process, “Walk through the area with a trash bag and gather anything that you can quickly identify as immediate trash.”

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Be ready to purge

Getting rid of your things can feel upsetting, but using logical questions to decide if an item is worth keeping will help expedite the decluttering process.

Truesdale recommends using these basic questions that can work for
any item: 

• Do you know what this thing is? 

• Would you buy it or create it again? 

• When was the last time you touched it or used it? 

• Does this item bring up negative emotions?

• If you were to discard it, what’s the worst that could happen?

Use the 4-container method

When going through your things, it can be helpful to sort stuff into piles. After asking yourself questions determining whether an item should be kept, you then can separate belongings into piles based on where they should go, said Pyne. 

“Have three bags or boxes nearby — one for donations, one for trash and one undecided. Everything else will stay in a ‘keep’ pile and will be organized into a new system,” she explained. 

Since getting rid of things can be difficult, this method can make it easier for people to divide belongings and decide what is really worth keeping. 

Tidy drawers with organizational containers

Separating drawers and cabinets will provide a designated place and allow your things to be easily divided into sections with containers.

“Your items will stay better organized when they have clear borders and boundaries,” Pyne said “.This means, rather than having a bunch of items loose in a drawer, you can add drawer dividers to keep different categories contained and keep them from sliding around. In cabinets, bins with labels will serve this same purpose of keeping categories together and in line.”

Organizational containers can be easily found on the market with a range of prices based on your budget. For a sustainable and free option, you can repurpose small boxes and arrange them in your drawers, said STR8N UP’s Truesdale.

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Store things by category

Creating designated areas for certain types of items will ensure everything has a place. This will reduce clutter over time.

Truesdale said it can be helpful to appoint particular areas for items that you want completely out of sight, such as “holiday decorations, entertaining supplies, sports gear and luggage.”

For more frequently used items, you may want to make them easier to reach. For instance, in the laundry room, you might create a space for storing utility items such as hooks, tape, batteries, flashlights and lightbulbs so you will have a central place to find them when you need them, said Truesdale. 

Use overlooked areas for storage

Closets and cabinets are the main storage spaces in most houses. But if storage is minimal, consider rethinking your space and incorporating more creative ways to keep things put away. 

The experts recommended using these hacks for potential storage space:

Under the bed. “Underbed bins can be used for off-season clothing, memorabilia, and anything else you want out of sight but within reach,” said Pyne of Room for Peace Organizing.

Behind doors. Pyne also suggested using hooks inside cabinet doors “for hanging kitchen supplies like measuring cups and oven mittens if you find your drawers are getting too crowded.”

Shoe-bag organizers. “You can often use the over-the-door shoe bags on the insides of closet doors to corral supplies for crafts, cleaning, winter outerwear, pet needs and various other needs,” Truesdale advised. 

Maintain your organization a few minutes a day 

Once you’ve finished the process of purging and reorganizing, the most important thing to do is to keep it that way. Making sure things are put away correctly. Routine cleaning will ensure that your home stays as tidy as possible.

“You have to spend the time to keep up with the system or things will find a way to return to disorder. A few minutes everyday helps you to enjoy an organized life,” said Truesdale. 

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