I have read dozens of books over the years on clutter, home organization, time management, and cleaning. The best ideas are repeatedly mentioned from place to place. One of those ideas is the Realtor Game.
The Realtor Game
Make believe you are a Realtor about to list a home. Take a pad of paper or notebook. Enter by the door guests normally enter. Write a heading for each area and list needed decluttering, cleaning or repair. Example:
Front Porch–repair screen door
Entry–Repair wall above door/declutter mail holder
Dining Room–Batteries need replacing in clock, sell piano (?), declutter china cabinet
Coat Closet–Remove unneeded coats, declutter shelves
Go throughout your home and continue listing needed decluttering, cleaning, and repairs. You may also want to list your dream improvements for each area.
Try to look at each area with fresh eyes. Notice where clutter has become a part of the roomscape or decor has become tired or dated. Realtors take pictures for the listing, so take pictures as you go. When you look at a picture, you often notice the clutter your eyes have become accustomed to seeing.
I work through my home in a pattern beginning with my room on wheels–The Car.
1. Front Porch
3. Coat Closet
4. Powder Room
5. Dining Room
6. Living Room
8. Upper Deck
9. Master Bedroom
10. Master Bedroom Closet
11. En Suite Bath
12. Family Bath
13. Laundry Closet.
14. Work Room/Guest Room
15. Front Bedroom
18. Lower Deck
19. Front Yard
20. Side Yard including Trash Receptacles
21. Back Yard
22. Garden Shed
When you know the order of work you can move smoothly from one area to the next.
Plan a minimum of 10-20 minutes per day for decluttering. You cannot organize clutter, you must get rid of it. Use it or lose it. Every item in your home should be useful or beautiful–both is best.
A little done consistently is better than big plans you never get around to. Maintain what you have done as you work through your home.
When you have worked through your home, begin again. Each time you will get better at decluttering and work faster.
Remember this is your family’s home, not a magazine layout or museum. You can create rooms that are lovely and functional as well as family friendly.
I heard the story of a woman, desperate to get and keep her home in order that listed her home for sale with no intention of selling it. She wanted to be ready to show her home at any time. Years ago this led me to develop a personal policy of showing people through my home whenever they visited for the first time, even if I knew I would be embarrassed. People can tell the difference between life in progress and neglect. We want to move away from neglect to making our house a home that says welcome to family and friends alike.