You hear a lot about organizing before you put your house on the market or in preparation to downsize. But what about keeping your house clutter free? It’s not as easy as you’d think. But these tips should help you get things under control. You just have to do them.
If you’re ready to make a move to senior living – or if you’re a Florida senior already living in a senior community like Discovery Village in Fort Myers, Naples or Bradenton, then you probably already underwent the Big Purge. This refers to the sorting, tossing, donating or keeping (and then having to pack and later find a place for) all of your worldly possessions. It’s a lot of work but your realtor — and your kids – will be glad you did it.
The purpose of the Big Purge is to get rid of all the things that you don’t really need. You are downsizing, after all. As spacious as the rooms are at Discovery Village, you just won’t have space for all the stuff you packed into four bedrooms, five baths, a basement and a 3-car garage. So before you even list the house, it’s the perfect time to de-clutter. Because, as your realtor is sure to tell you, a clutter-free, non-personalized house will show better – and net you a better offer.
It’s a hard task. No one will tell you anything different. There are a lot of memories packed into that old house. But now that it’s done and you’re – almost – over it, you may actually feel some relief. Some freedom. Wow. You haven’t been this light in decades! So how to keep it looking this way?
Adhere to the something-in, something-out rule. This is a tough one, but those that stick to this policy swear by it. If you fall in love with a brand new fall sweater, donate an old sweater to charity. (And don’t worry – you don’t have to get rid of the exact same type of item. It’s not the “sweater for a sweater” rule). Just get rid of something. This keeps your closet from bursting at the seams and piles from getting out of control.
And speaking of piles…try to avoid them. At all costs. As one organizing expert told me, even one item placed on a desk or counter becomes an instant junk magnet! We’ve all seen it happen. One magazine quickly becomes a magazine and physical therapy schedule. And that turns into a magazine, a PT schedule and directions to a new restaurant. Add a few coupons or photos of the grandkids and – Voila! Suddenly you have a pile.
Read your mail at the mailbox. If there’s a trash or recycling bin nearby, all the better. The trick here is to make sure that you don’t even let unwanted mail get past your door. Catalogs you didn’t ask for? Toss ’em! Postcards, offers and flyers for things you don’t want or need? Don’t hang on to them. Coupons? Sort them right away, too – and only keep the ones you’ll really use. Credit card offers? Go ahead and bring them in – but shred them right away.
Don’t keep piles of newspapers or magazines sitting around. I understand. It’s easy to set these things aside, thinking you’ll read them later. Now check the dates on the publications in your pile. Just what I thought! Make it a policy to read them when you get them or toss them out. If you must save something, clip it out and put it in a folder to file it for future reading. And be sure to go through that file every month or two and read those articles — or get rid of them. Not only are tall piles unsightly, but they can become both a fire hazard and a safety concern – just one more thing to trip over.
Create a storage system. My organizer friend says she pays her bills the minute she gets them – this gets rid of both the clutter and the possibility of forgetting. But my economist son would tell you not to let anyone “use” your money before they have a right to it. So he’d suggest a basket or folder with bills sorted by due date (be sure to leave enough time for mailing if you aren’t paying online or dropping off a check). You’ll be organized (with everything in its place) and you’ll avoid the risk of forgetting to pay those bills that are buried at the bottom of that out-of-control pile.
Keep just one memory box. Okay – maybe two. Do you really need to keep the participation trophy your son got for playing soccer when he was six? What you keep is up to you, but just save things that mean something. The monetary value is not what counts. And if there are things that conjure happy memories but you just don’t have a place (or need) for them, well, why not take a photo? Then keep the pictures on your computer or create a scrapbook.
As you start to remove some of the clutter from your living space, watch how it has a boomerang effect – making you want to keep it that way. So go ahead — memorize this advice. Just don’t print it out and save it!
Discovery Village At The Forum offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 239.230.3436.