Today's post is written by a guest blogger from HomeLight.com. Thanks Lin for sharing your ideas and tips!
Sometimes storage spaces get crammed and chaotic. We don’t live in them, so they’re easy to ignore-- most of the time. It’s when we cannot find the clothes, recipe ingredients, or holiday decorations lost in an over-full storage space that we start to notice.
When you’re selling a house, and you’ve decluttered, deep-cleaned, and staged, you definitely don’t want clutter sneaking back in. Storage spaces are something potential buyers will want to see. You worked to find a real estate agent who’s right for you, so listen to their advice and support their work in every way you can.
Even if you’re not selling, storage works best when only ¾ full because your things are more orderly and easier to find. The secret to keeping storage space neat is organizing your time for a decluttering project and for routine maintenance that fits within your schedule and lifestyle.
Time Management Tip #1: The Big Sweep
Whether you’re trying to sell, or simply wanting to live your best life, when it comes to your house, decluttering storage spaces is a huge step, so set aside a weekend or some regular blocks of weekly time to meet that “only ¾ full” goal.
Break up the project in whatever way works best for you: one area of the house, one closet, or even one shelf at time. But schedule and commit to decluttering. Be guided by Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and keep only what brings you joy. Or, for history buffs, follow artist William Morris, who said things in your home should be what you “know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” If it’s broken, outgrown, not liked, or not used, its time has come.
Have boxes ready to hold “Trash” and “Donate” when you empty a space. Sometimes the donation aspect of decluttering makes the process easier because you’re helping someone else by getting rid of what you no longer need.
Once the clutter is gone and items you’ve decided to keep are going back into storage, you can wisely invest in organizational units or containers you need. You can even repurpose various containers you already have, especially if they’re more functional than stylish.
Time Management Tip #2: Get a Routine
That first big declutter can feel wonderful and liberating, a true “high five” moment. The next step is maintaining your newly cleaned spaces, which can be harder, because it has to fit into your busy days. But make a few simple tips into habits, like morning coffee or brushing your teeth, and your new routine will help you save time in the end.
Switch out clothes closets a couple of times a year, storing clothing depending on the season. Put on a good podcast, and take an hour to pack away winter sweaters or rotate them to the back of the closet.
Garage or cellar storage can work the same way. Take an hour to push the holiday decorations to the back for another year and rotate other items into more accessible storage spots.
In the pantry, taking inventory can be part of your week’s meal-planning routine. Review what you have, tidy up what you’ve just used, and perhaps pull forward what you need for meals the upcoming week. You will avoid missing ingredients or making extra purchases that add to clutter.
Other smaller “storage” areas should get a few minutes of daily attention. Clear the hall table of mail and other items dropped upon entry. That chair where you leave clothes you’ve just worn or pile the folded laundry should be cleared daily, too.
It adds more to your to-do list, but the best way to keep storage spaces organized is not to let the clutter back in. We all know clutter and how it works: give it an inch, it will take a mile. Deal with things as you handle them, or designate a time each day to tidy all the clutter “hot zones.”
For home sellers who need to keep the house show-ready at all times, add storage space organization to your daily cleaning routine, and the cleaning will be easier to do. If you need advice on organizing your storage or starting your routine, many top real estate agents are great resources. They can give expert feedback on your “homework” and/or recommend organizing pros to advise you on the positive efforts you’re making.
Lin Nulman has been writing for HomeLight.com since 2016, and her work has been featured on many other websites. She teaches writing and literature at Bunker Hill Community College. Her poetry and arts writing has appeared in a number of journals, anthologies, and websites.