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Happy New Year and Happy National Organization Month!

Research shows that people waste as much as an hour a day, on average, looking for things they’ve misplaced. That means that many of us waste as much as 15 days every year because of disorganization!

Do the piles of clutter in your home overwhelm you or a senior loved one? Do you want to help a senior have a clean home but you honestly do not know where to start the clean-up process? It is time to create a declutter strategy and I can get you started in 3 easy steps! As a Daily Money Manager for seniors, this is often the first step we have to take in order to get a handle on our clients daily life and money matters.

Step 1: Walk through the home with new eyes. In fact, some organizers recommend that you enter the house, going room by room, and making a list of everything that needs to be changed. Before you start doing anything, take a close look at your list. Which room or space irritates you the most? Prioritize each area you want clean based on your list.

Step 2: Rather than trying to tackle an entire room, start with one small area. Focus on that one area – whether it is a counter, a dresser drawer or a bookshelf. Completely clear everything from the area and then go through each item, choosing whether to save it, donate or give it away, or throw it away. As you find items you want to keep, put them back until everything is back in its place. When you step back and see the cleared space, you will feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment and have new energy to move forward.

You may be tempted to start on the next item on the list, but it would be better to wait. Give yourself a couple of days to a week to get used to having the area clean and see how you do keeping the area clutter free. Your goal is to develop the new habit of keeping this one area cleared. When you feel secure in keeping this one area clear, it is time to move to the next priority item on your list.

You may want to have a decluttering spree, but bear in mind that doing too much too soon can wear you out. Instead, plan to spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day cleaning; if you can schedule more time, that’s great. Follow the list of prioritized items and set an alarm on your calendar. Guard the time like you would a doctor’s appointment to be sure you declutter a little bit each day.

Step 3: Once you have gotten your own clutter under control, it is time to enlist the help of your family. Develop a chore chart for everyone in the family so you are not the only one cleaning. You may be the only one decluttering but it only makes sense for everyone in the family to be involved in general housekeeping. It also helps to develop a routine.

As you go through clutter, whether on your own or with your family’s help, remember the importance of not only cleaning but also getting rid of items that you no longer need. You may want to put a “give away” box in each room. When you find an unwanted or unneeded item, place it into the box. Once the box is full, immediately take it to the car and donate it to a charity like Salvation Army or Goodwill. Perhaps someone else will need it.

You may feel like it is taking forever to clear the clutter, but it took more than a day or two to gather it. It will take time to get a home back in order, but once you do, you will be more likely to use the new skills you have learned and keep the clutter from coming back.

Having difficulty saying goodbye to your stuff? Next week, we’ll talk about the “art of letting go.”

Your Senior Partners