Tracy McCubbin, owner of dClutterfly.com and one of the nation’s leading decluttering experts, suggests we forget January resolutions and declare spring the beginning of the new year. We asked Tracy for tips on how to get a fresh start and successfully organize your home or office.
Why do you think spring is a best time for new beginnings?
By the time it’s spring, you’ve been cooped up for months; survived Thanksgiving, the holidays and New Year’s; and dealt with three seasons of clothes. It’s a perfect time to ask, “Should it stay or should it go?”
OK, but why is decluttering so painful?
Decluttering is hard both physically and emotionally, especially for women. We over estimate what we can do and then beat ourselves up when we’re not successful. We’re also often asked to care for family treasure and heirlooms, and in this post-feminist age of, “We can do it all,” it’s hard to ask for help. And when we don’t get the job done, it’s easy to feel like a failure.
What is the best way to get started?
First make a realistic plan, and it’s ok if you only have enough time to organize a room or a closet. And remember you don’t have to go it alone. As you would imagine, I’m a fan of working with a professional organizer but if that’s not in your budget, ask a friend to put a fresh eye on your possessions–then say thank you by returning the favor.
I’ve committed to getting organized and have a plan–but where do I get rid of the stuff I don’t want?
If you’re making decisions on your own, I recommend thinking local. Explore smaller organizations in your community that help teens or foster kids transitioning to independent living and check out women’s and homeless’ shelters. The trick is to be creative–the shelves you want to recycle might be a great fit for a local nursery school. And remember, Google is your friend: almost all municipalities have websites with information about recycling, big item pickup, and more.
You’ve said you’re not a fan of garage sales? Why?
It takes at least three days to organize and hold a garage sale, and it’s important to think about what your time is worth. Garage sales also give strangers the opportunity to scope out you and your home; not to be sexist, but if you decide to hold a sale, think about having a guy on hand to help–his presence might deter potential problems.
Any final advice?
Because baby boomers are downsizing and disposing of decades of possessions, and many young adults are not into china settings for 12, you may find it’s hard to sell an item for what you think it’s worth or even give it away. When it’s time to let go, take a deep breath and think about the peace your new clutter-free life will bring.
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