De-cluttering: a work in progress

We could all do with a little less.  Weeding out things you  no longer need  is essential if you plan to move into a smaller home,  but it can make life better even if you’re staying right where you are.  Get a start with these tips:

Give yourself time. As we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’ve spent a lifetime accumulating wonderful things; don’t expect that you can sort through it all in a weekend.

Start small. The cluttered area that vexes you the most is the perfect place to begin. But instead of taking on your entire basement or dining room at once, start with one drawer, one cabinet, one shelf. Breaking de-cluttering into small manageable segments can keep you from giving up in frustration.

Take advantage of momentum. When it comes to clearing clutter, remember that the anticipation is always worse than the reality.  If you’ve broken the job into manageable pieces, you’ll find that each sorting session gets a little easier. Decisions require less thought and you can feel the positive effect of your forward motion.

Keep what matters. Keep for yourself the things that you use frequently, that make you happy and that you cherish most. The items that have the most value for you are not necessarily your most expensive possessions.

Think positive. It’s easy to get bogged down in lamenting the things you’re giving up. Instead, try thinking of it as an editing of your possessions, and focus on the new life that the items you’re gifting, selling or donating will have with new owners who appreciate and use them.

Touch it once. Set up boxes for things to be donated, sold or given to family members. As you sort through items, pack each one carefully so you can just seal the box and send them on their way.

Share it forward. Take advantage of your transition to hand down heirlooms to family and friends. Provide a bridge to future generations by writing down the history of the items. A simple note gives meaning and context to things as elegant as a silver dresser set or quaint as grandmother’s cookie jar.

The price is right. Selling no-longer-needed items is a win-win situation. A happy buyer gets a treasure, and you get a little folding money. Consider a yard sale, an online auction site or a consignment shop. If you have a substantial amount goods that you want to sell, a professional sale organizer can be a great resource. Be sure to ask for and to contact references before signing a contract.

Know what you have. It’s tough to estimate the value of an antique or collectible if you’re not an expert.  A piece of china may be a fine thing to have, but it’s not always a valuable one. Conversely, some novelty items command high prices from collectors.  A little digging around on the internet can turn up good clues about the value of an item. If in doubt, hire a reputable appraiser.

Help others. Items that are no longer needed but still serviceable are welcomed by charities. Keep a list of your donations for tax purposes. Don’t donate things that are broken, stained or torn. Social services organizations work hard enough without having to take extra time to dispose of unusable items.

Don’t go it alone. The old adage that many hands make light work is never truer than when you’re clearing clutter. Having helpers to box items for sale and donation, pack for a move and keep track of what’s going where is invaluable.

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