Even thinking about the chore of getting your house ready to sell can make you want to hide under your desk. It’s hard work full of difficult decisions. If you happen to be a pack-rat, just the necessary work of decluttering can take weeks. In today’s world of busy two-income households, it’s a great relief to know that much of the work of preparing your home for sale can be taken on by professional home stagers.

The aforementioned work of decluttering is something that only you and/or family members can accomplish. From toys in the playroom to the dreaded kitchen junk drawer, these are hands-on jobs that require a little thought. Whether you toss an item out, donate it, or pack it away for use in your new place, each and every thing in your house will require a decision. Ugh.

Here are pointers about how to go about decluttering in the most efficient way possible.
Like Eating an Elephant: Decluttering an entire home is a big commitment. As the old adage says, however, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. The same is true with decluttering. Pick a room, any room, and get started. Make a deal with yourself and any other humans that live in your house. Each day, do one job thoroughly.

Create a Job Jar: Use paper and pen to make a list of the rooms in your house, and then break each room into areas. Cut your list into sections, and then put the slips of paper into the Job Jar. Each day, each family member selects a section and tackles it. If you have young children, take the time to create a secondary Job Jar for them holding task slips they can accomplish easily. Teenagers are probably able to do just about any of the tasks with just a bit of supervision.

Lay in a Supply of Garbage Bags: Give everybody in the household a large garbage bag, then set the timer on the kitchen stove. See who can fill their bag with unwanted, un-needed, unloved items in an hour’s time. When the timer goes off, quit. Take a trip to the local ice-cream shop for a cone. On the way, deliver the bags to the local charity shop. When you’re attempting to inspire minimalism, it helps to offer a sense of play and, of course, rewards.

Give it Away: Give away one item each day. Whether or not your neighbour wants what you have to offer is another question entirely. (A pack-rat neighbour of mine moved last year. Every day I had to politely refuse her cool things. When it began to hurt her feelings, I did take a couple of items which I promptly put into my DONATE box.)

12-12-12: One expert in such adventures suggests tasking each person in the household to find 12 items to give away, 12 items to throw away, and 12 items to be put back where they actually belong. This could be a Saturday morning project or stretched over a week’s time. You obviously know your family’s capacity for challenges. Home stagers assure us that doing a bit at a time will actually result in an uncluttered house eventually.

Speaking of Capacity: Remember that work expands to fit the time allotted to it. Remember also that if you set goals and meet them you get the added bonus of the sense of accomplishment it brings. Set limits as well. Don’t allow the challenge of decluttering to swell so much that it takes up your every hour. Work in five minute intervals. Set your timer and when the time is up stop.

When the time comes to declutter your home, don’t allow the sheer volume of the project to keep you from getting started. Imagine the project in small sections, and then as each job is done, don’t forget to give yourself an “Atta boy!” to celebrate your accomplishment. Home stagers also suggest taking pictures of the before and the after in each area. This alone will provide evidence of your hard work and can make de-cluttering far less intimidating. It will also serve to prove that slow and steady really can win the race.

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