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SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 508
Experience:  Senior Information Specialist
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best way to declutter

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I have severe allergies and am trying to declutter in an attempt to help allergy symptoms. Has anyone found a best technique for tackling rooms full of stuff that is upto 15 years old? I sometimes get stuck on the sentimental. Thanks!
Hi there, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will assist you in providing some strategy in resolving your issues with decluttering your rooms.

I would suggest maybe a friend or family member who does not share the same clutter issues to help you moderate what is REASONABLE to hang on to, and what is essential to hang on to(heirlooms, old vintage family history items, things of that nature). If you find yourself getting stuck, their job is to help you assign a category to the item to keep you moving along. This person should have a similar goal of helping you to declutter the areas you need to, while motivating you to continue to work on it.

So for starters, its a great idea to create separate categories for the items in the room. You should separate things into categories like: Donations(clothes, furniture things other people need and can use), Heirlooms and must-keeps, Garbage(literal garbage, old papers, receipts you have already used, old expired mail, magazines etc.), extra items that can be gifted or donated(trinkets, extra furniture or small items like clocks, lamps etc.)

I would outline 3-5 categories:
1. Donate - "someone will use this because I am not" - a broad category
2. Keep - my family photos, heirlooms, irreplaceable things or items of high value
3. Discard - Garbage, mail, papers, magazines(books would be donate).

Do this so you can keep yourself stuck to a "plan" and begin sorting through. Do not try to finish an entire room in an entire day, this may take some time over a few days per room. You should be able to immediately recognize(within a couple seconds) what an item is, what category it fits into and then to put it in that category. You shouldn't need more than a few seconds to decide. I tend to think in "Can someone get good use of it?" terms. Extra furniture, clothing you haven't worn in several months, home items like lamps, kitchen items. If you not using it, just donate it to someone who gets good use.

It is an awesome thing you are working to declutter your space so remind yourself how positive it is by scheduling these times or blocks of time to declutter or work on a room even it is only 10-15 minutes a day. Remember, keep it reasonable. Positively reinforce that "donation" category by itemizing them for tax purposes, then bringing them in each time you fill a bag or box, even better if you bring in the items each day - some places will even pick some things up for you. Letting it fall into a negative experience may hinder your motivation to continue so keep in mind your house will be much cleaner, your rooms will be less dusty, helping you feel tremendously better, and people in need of items will get great use of them(not to mention the tax benefits for you).

Once you have gotten down to the bare bones of the room, the furniture(and extra furniture) can be removed and you can do your routine cleaning, dust and debris removal.

It is excellent you have chosen to declutter your house remember a few things while doing this:
-It is going to be healthier for you and your allergies
-This is ultimately a positive change for you eliminating things you do not need and cleaning up your living space. Keep it positive by attacking the clutter in scheduled time blocks so you are not overwhelmed. Move from 1 segment of the room to another when finished and complete that smaller area of the room before moving on - this will keep you focused.
-Of the extra items there are many people who will get great use out of the things you no longer use.
- Your family heirlooms and historic things you find can then be reorganized and filed into safe, secure keeping that is easily accessable.

I commend you on your first step. Stay motivated and keep your eye on the prize(allergy relief and a fresh new space!). Good luck!
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you that's a great help. I've been doing it on my own but hadn't thought of bringing in someone else. The only problem might be finding someone to help :) not a task most people volunteer for! I'm also considering moving later this year and want as much "extra" stuff gone as possible before then!
thank you,
You're welcome Bella, perhaps its a perfect time for "light duty" from your other question :) we worked on.

Another tip I thought of was actually related to the "Moderator". If they are somewhat savvy with computers, they could catalog the items you are eliminating from your rooms for you so you don't have to go through and count the items for donation, if there are any standout items you could research the items on auction sites or see if they are worth anything and potentially make a couple of dollars(or more than a couple). The money you made could be put forward into things like a fresh coat of paint, a nice window treatment for the potential new home owner or if its enough, maybe a new sharp piece of furniture for the new place you move to - or save for a rainy day!

Obviously you wouldn't want to do this with everything as you might end up in the same cluttered situation, but the special items or the unique ones might actually fetch a pretty penny!