Baby Boomers: 5 Tips To Declutter Your Home In A Stress-Free Way
No matter how hard we try to avoid it, stuff often piles up. If you have enough space in your home, you might not even notice it — until, that is, you finally do run out of space. Though paring down your belongings can provoke anxiety, it doesn’t have to be that way, says Lisa Zaslow, professional organizer and founder of Gotham Organizers.
Zaslow helps people declutter and organize their home or office. Baby boomers — a generation that, according to the Pew Research Center, is made up of roughly 75 million people born between 1946 and 1964 — can be good candidates for home organization and paring down belongings because many are empty nesters who are considering downsizing their home…or at least downsizing their stuff.
It can be overwhelming to parse through all of the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. To reduce anxiety that the process can prompt, Zaslow urges all of her clients to take a very logical approach from the beginning.
“I start with the biggest things because that’s going to free up the most space,” she says. “Don’t worry in the beginning about things like photographs, which don’t take up much space and can be very emotional to go through. It’ll make it much easier if you start with larger items like furniture and work from there.”
Get Rid of Stuff You Don’t Use
“One of my clients has a third bedroom in her apartment,” Zaslow says. “She told me, ‘Oh, it’s our junk room.’ And I asked, ‘Why do you have a whole room for junk?’“
Zaslow doesn’t advocate a minimalist lifestyle because, she says, it’s just not realistic to think that everyone can drastically change his or her habits overnight. She instead suggests first thinking about how much space you have to work with. “I think it’s more about how much space you’ve got, and whether you’re using it effectively,” she says.
Ask Yourself This Question
Zaslow recommends asking yourself this question when you’re deciding whether to keep something: “How often do I use a specific item?”
“If it’s something you use all the time, then it’s not going to be the first thing you get rid of,” she says. “Start with the easier, bigger things first, and save the harder decisions toward the end of the process once you’re building some momentum.”
Think About the Bigger Picture
Everyone is different but, as Zaslow points out, if you find yourself becoming overly sentimental, there are tricks you can employ that may allow you to save space without feeling as though you’re throwing away memories.
“First, is there some other way that you can save the memory of the item that’s smaller? For example, could you take a picture of it? Sometimes, I’ve had people with a piece of clothing, where they’ll just snip a little piece of it, and that’s enough of a memory,” she says.
“Another solution is if there’s a friend or a family member whom you can give it to who will really use it; then you can visit the item every time you see that relative or friend.”
Go Through Your Keepsakes Often
Much like you probably don’t need to keep a dining room table you don’t use anymore, you may not need to hold onto photographs or other keepsakes if they’re tucked away untouched in some far-flung room you never visit. “For stuff that you have saved like memorabilia, go through it. Try to do it quickly and ask yourself, ‘Is this stuff even meaningful anymore?’” Zaslow says.
“If it’s photographs and they’re in a box in the basement, wouldn’t it be more useful to scan them and have them in a digital photo frame, so you can constantly see them? If you’re saving things for sentimental reasons, then that’s great. But live with that emotion that the object provides for you. A sentimental thing in the back of a closet is not really doing you much good.”