When we think about getting organized we often envision buying a bunch of containers and rearranging our stuff. But decluttering your home requires a little more effort than that. I think about this process in four steps, and I use the acronym SPAM to remember them: 1. Stop acquiring 2. Purge 3. Arrange 4. Maintain 1. The first step in this process is to stop acquiring so much stuff. It’s unrealistic to think you will stop buying things altogether, but if you don’t slow down the inflow you will never make any headway toward decluttering. How do you change these habits? First, stop buying items for the person you think you should be. Accept yourself and your life as it is today, and keep only the things that serve you right now. Also, limit temptation for impulse purchases. Stay out of stores or off websites where you tend to buy without thinking. 2. The purge step is where you take a look at the things you own and determine if they provide enough value to justify a place in your home. There is unfortunately no shortcut through this process, it requires some time and effort to sort through your belongings and make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. I’ve written a detailed description of how I do this when I work with clients, you can read it at the following link: On the blog: How to Purge Your Stuff 3. The third step is to arrange your things so you can easily find them, use them, and put them away. Try to assign everything a home and cultivate the habit of returning things when you are done using them. Reserve the prime real estate in your home – the areas that are most easily accessible, like kitchen counters – for the things you use all the time. If you are struggling to find a home for things or to arrange them in a functional way, you probably need to pare down further. 4. Maintaining an organized home is all about developing systems and habits for keeping clutter from accumulating. Spending a few minutes everyday doing a quick sweep of the problem areas of your home is one way. Keeping a permanent donation box for those things you come across that you no longer use is another. Use guidelines like the 1-in, 2-out rule – for every item you bring into your home get rid of two similar items – to keep the process moving.
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