Photo of a young woman holding a miniature houseIf you had to guess, how many items do you think you possess in your home? I’m talking everything from paperclips to books to shoes to kitchen gadgets. If you fall in the average category of Americans, it’s probably around 300,000 things. If your home is larger than the typical 2500 square feet in our nation, you might need to scale up your estimate. All of that stuff can add up to some serious stress when it comes to cleaning, maintaining, taking care of and just plain living while surrounded by this number of things. While you may not be ready to move into a tiny house, most of us are ripe for a good ol’ rightsizing. Here are a few suggestions for how to get started:

Ask yourself WHY? Figure out what your main motivation is and let that be your guiding force. Maybe you want to move to a smaller, more affordable home? Or maybe you just want less to take care of and clean around? Or perhaps you’re just sick and tired of how the clutter makes you feel. Get clear on your why so you can keep moving forward.

Don’t organize! That’s right. I said it. Don’t get organized…at least not yet. For many, organization means shopping (purchasing bins and baskets to put your stuff in) and arranging (creating a system for placement of items). Before you do that, you must first be ruthless and make tough decisions about the things you need, use and love. Everything else must go!

Check your emotions. Getting rid of stuff is hard! First, there is the tough job of making so many decisions. Then there are the attachments you have to things (grandmother’s china, the outfit you wore to your rehearsal dinner 15 years ago, the letters your best friend wrote to you after college). And you’re also likely to struggle with a fair amount of regret over unutilized purchases you made or money you spent. Be kind to yourself, pace yourself, and recognize that it’s normal to struggle through the letting go. Go back to your why and remind yourself of the payoff.

Okay…now you can organize. Once you’ve made the tough decisions, now you get to have some fun. Think about placement—keeping like with like and placing things closest to where they’ll be used. Consider your expensive real estate—the storage that’s easiest to access. Figure out how to containerize items so you can maximize storage. And get comfortable with empty space. It’s okay to have a little white space in your home. Embrace it!

Change your habits. You’ve done the hard work, now just make sure it will last. Create a one in, one out policy so you don’t refill your space. Make it easy to give away or donate items by keeping an empty bag in your closet or a box near your door. Get an organizing mantra you can say to yourself when you feel yourself slipping into old habits. Then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Fall is a season of change and what better way to change than to lighten your load, simplify your life and make more room for what matters most!

Keep Neat,