New Year New Home: Decluttering Tips for Northern Virginia Homeowners

decluttering tips for northern virginia homeowner_mmk realty llc northern virginia real estate

Are you looking for decluttering tips to help get you motivated and organized? It is 2020 after all, and while you may still may be decompressing from the holidays you are probably at least thinking about how you want to improve your home in the New Year. You might be considering buying/selling or renovating and/or redecorating, but whatever you are thinking about doing, there is probably some degree of decluttering that is required in order to advance any new agendas you might have. The problem with decluttering is it can feel daunting, which often leads to procrastination, which then leads to distraction and next thing you know your house is still a mess. It can be a vicious cycle, especially in busy Northern Virginia where free time is a precious commodity. The good news is that the difficulty of decluttering can be minimized by breaking tasks and projects into small and manageable chunks.

I am going to give it to you straight. If you want to declutter your house, you have to be ready and willing and then get off your butt and make it happen. There are no two ways about it, but that does not mean that you have to overhaul your entire house in one day. Be reasonable (and kind to yourself)! As a busy mom, business owner, Realtor, and connoisseur of anything that involves fun, decluttering certainly is not my favorite thing to do, but I always feel better when my life is less cluttered. Here are my decluttering tips for Northern Virginia homeowners.

How to Organize Your Project 

My recommendation for getting started is simple: make a list. However, I have never been a big fan of going overboard when it comes to list making, mainly because lists needs to be flexible because life can be unpredictable sometimes. I see people creating excel flowcharts, color pinwheel graphs, extremely detailed and specific calendars and so forth. In my opinion that is waste of time and a great way to procrastinate your projects (because you are stuck in list design mode). If you are someone that needs that level of detail, then by all means do what works best for you, but in my opinion it is easier (and more productive) to keep it simple. Sit down with a pen and paper (or digital memo) and write down your decluttering goals by area/room. For example, master bedroom closet, office desk, kitchen junk drawer, basement, garage, and hall closet. If you want to declutter your entire house, write down every room/area as a goal. From there start breaking areas into small chunks. For example, my hall closet is not huge but it is messy and I think I can reorganize it in under an hour, so it is first on my list because it is fairly manageable. From there, I will continue ordering the smaller and easier areas first because not only can I address them reasonably, I can build motivation from the sense of accomplishment I get upon finishing an area.

When you get to the larger areas on your list it is really important to break those areas into smaller chunks too. For example, if you are anything like me, adding the basement to your decluttering list is terrifying because it is probably quite a mess down there. However, if I sort areas of my basement into smaller chunks and treat those areas the same way that I treated the hall closet, suddenly the basement is a lot less daunting–and there is a good chance I will actually follow through with my goals. Another benefit of sorting areas into smaller chunks is it makes it easier to recruit help from your family who would otherwise find any excuse possible to get out of helping. If you are able to delegate and give family members small areas/boxes/bins to go through, you are more likely to clear all that clutter faster.

Timeline and Motivation

When it comes to major decluttering projects, we all have the best intentions and we all have different availability so no one set schedule will work universally. However, the critical factor here is momentum. Once you develop some momentum you have to find a way to keep that going until your finish your list. For me, I set aside a few time chunks each week to dedicate to my project and give myself a reasonable but short deadline. For example, for my list outlined earlier I would give myself a 4 week deadline because that is reasonable for my life. On my list I would itemize the small chunks and divide it by four weeks based on how much I thought I could accomplish per week. I personally tackle projects of this nature in the morning because I have more energy and motivation. The trick is sometimes you are estimating and guessing and if your plan does not work out perfectly, you have to be kind to yourself and flexible. But, you also need a contingency plan if something comes up or you lose momentum. How will you keep yourself on track?

Reward-Based Motivation 

We humans love rewards, especially for a job well done. Thus, I highly recommend as you write your project list that you also determine a reward system for yourself. I personally like to give myself smaller rewards at the end of each week (assuming I accomplished some goals) and then treat myself to a larger reward and the end of my project. For example, if after week one I have decluttered my hall closet, kitchen junk drawer, and office desk I would consider that a big win and deserving of a treat. So, I might book myself a massage, splurge on those new athletic shoes I have been eyeing, or get a pedicure—whatever makes you happy. Also, oftentimes my decluttering projects involve selling used items that we no longer need, and sometimes I use that extra cash to reward myself—though I have also been known to save that money and choose more budget-friendly rewards (like a cupcake from my favorite bakery). Even if you decide that weekly rewards are not necessary, you do need a big carrot waiting for you at the end. Maybe you plan an overnight trip—or shopping at your favorite store, a spa day, a new gadget, a night out—again, whatever makes you happy and is reasonable within your budget. The point here is to be flexible and kind to yourself but also give yourself a way to stay on track.

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