STORAGE DOCTOR: CLUTTER CLEANSE
FAMILY ROOM • VEHICLE • REFRIGERATOR
Tidy up your family room, vehicle, and refrigerator this weekend.
Banish clutter from three spots where everyone contributes to the mess—and make your family part of the solutions.
This three- day Clutter Cleanse is all about sharing: shared spaces, shared chaos, and shared fixes. Your family room, vehicle, and refrigerator are challenging areas to declutter, but they’re definitely worth the effort. The changes you make to these areas will benefit your entire family, and getting everyone working from the same clutter- busting playbook will yield even greater benefits.
Here are some great tips for cleansing the clutter from shared spaces.
LEAD THE CHARGE. Stop waiting for someone to take care of the clutter in your home. If you’re reading this and wanting to declutter, you’re probably the best person to initiate a cleanse.
RECRUIT HELP. If your family working together sounds like a fantasy, take a more realistic approach. Identify the tasks you need help on and make specific requests with concrete deadlines. (“By bedtime Saturday, I need you to sort all the video games into two piles: those you play and those you don’t.”)
REINFORCE DEADLINES. Cleanse assignments carry weight when you back them up with both a carrot (“You can have the money we make from reselling the old games”) and a stick (“After Saturday, I’m moving all unsorted games to a box in the basement”).
SCHEDULE CLEANSE TIME. Cleanses don’t spontaneously happen. Block out 30 to 45 minutes on your schedule for three consecutive days, focusing on one space each day. Tell your family ahead of time when you’ll be busy (so they don’t interrupt you). Encourage them to work on their assignments during this time, too.
GATHER SUPPLIES. Have the following items ready for each cleanse session. •
Markers, index cards, sticky notes, and clear packing tape to make quick labels • Cardboard boxes and plastic bags to sort and store items to donate • Trash bags for items to dispose • Scissors or a utility knife Hint: Giving helpers their own supplies empowers them— and reminds them of their assigned tasks.
TOUCH ONCE; DECIDE ONCE. The core decluttering decision is to keep or to let go. Simply picking up or touching an item and asking, “Should I keep this?” will often yield your answer. If you instantly know something needs to go or stay (and you have storage space so it can), follow your gut.
KNOW FOUR FINAL OPTIONS. Don’t fret about what to do with stuf you’re not keeping. You can either sell it, give it away, donate it, or recycle/dispose of it. ( Visit Bhg.com/cluttercleanse for more on these four options.)
KEEP MOVING. When you don’t quickly know whether to keep or get rid of an item, place it in a pile and keep working through the room. Save the last 5 to 10 minutes of the session to deal with your questionable items.
FOCUS ON FUNCTION. Set high standards for you and your helpers when evaluating items. Operate tools and electronics to see whether they work. Verify that you have all the pieces of games, kits, and sets. Damaged, broken, or incomplete items are rarely worth keeping. If you’ll fix the item in the next month, keep it; everything else should go.
BREAK EMOTIONAL TIES. Have a neutral person hold up items with emotional connections (collectibles, handmade stuf, books) and ask whether they’re keepers. Without a physical connection to a toy you loved in grade school or a novel you read 10 years ago, you can make clearheaded decisions.
WORK THE CLOCK. Set a timer (or play a specific number of songs) to keep cleanse sessions focused. Complete as much as you can in the allotted time and finish the cleanse question you’re working on. Take a 5- minute break to clear your head. If you have more to go and feel up to it, do another timed session. If you’re tired, wrap it up. You can always return to a cleanse later.
REMEMBER REWARDS. Do something positive at the end of each session. Enjoying something as simple as a piece of candy, a fresh glass of ice water, or an actual pat on your back (or someone else’s) reinforces your eforts.