Local expert Donna Hall, owner of a Northern Virginia-based home organization company, shares her tips for tackling the new year with less clutter.
New Year’s resolutions can quickly get buried under our daily to-dos and habits, falling to the wayside even with the best of intentions.
But a resolution that shouldn’t wait, which can cause a type of burying all its own, is organizing and decluttering your home. In the Marie Kondo era, it can seem more relevant than ever to clear your home of unwanted, unused or simply useless items, so we spoke with Donna Hall of Donna Hall Home Solutions, a Northern Virginia-based company that helps clients get their homes in order with the help of a professional organizer.
If you’re looking for simple ways to tackle organization, such as cleaning out a small drawer or tidying up a tiny space, or if you’re planning on overhauling your home full of stuff, Hall offers tips below that will have you feeling neat and refreshed in no time.
How did you get involved in home organization and decluttering?
I moved to Fairfax in 2013 after living overseas for four years. I started out with a relocation company, unpacking and packing clients that were either being moved by their companies or were relocated to the Northern Virginia area, prior to starting my own company. Now I approach each [home-organization or decluttering] project with empathy. I enjoy a challenge and am thrilled when my clients can see how my work will benefit their lives.
For readers who are starting 2020 by trying to organize their homes or decluttering spaces, what should they know about starting the process?
For the readers who want to start 2020 off with getting their lives back, I would say the same motto I use through my company, “When deciding on what or how to get rid of unwanted items, the first place to start is with friends and family.” Ask if they would be interested in some of your items and let them know that you are considering downsizing. If not, look into local charities who will come and pick up the items from your home, so that once you’ve made the decision of what you want to donate, you are committed to putting the items out for pickup. And remember, start small, like a kitchen junk drawer or laundry room. Do this when you have time and won’t feel rushed.
How should readers continue to keep their homes organized and clutter-free throughout the year?
If you buy something new, try to recycle something that you are not using or wearing any longer. Try to go paperless with bills and bank statements, and once you read your monthly magazines, then recycle it by sharing it with a friend or leaving it at a doctor’s office without the address label.
Also, don’t start off with buying expensive organizing gadgets. Start with what you already have in your home, like Tupperware containers for storage of pens or loose coins. Use plastic, sealable bags to store batteries or receipts. And do something quarterly with the changing of the seasons.
What is your best advice for those who might see themselves as messy?
Once you start an organizing project, your goal is to make yourself feel better, so start small and don’t start with something that has emotional decisions involved. Try small spaces, like those kitchen junk drawers, or cleaning products under the kitchen sink, things that won’t make you think too much about keeping them around.
When should readers contact a professional organizer?
Contacting a professional is always an option. Depending on the situation, it could be to sort through a lost loved one’s things and move on with life, or getting rid of the baby clothes and toys from your children as they grow older. Either way, it’s good to have a professional who is not emotionally attached to these items and can help you make sound decisions in the decluttering process. Look at hiring a professional as an investment into your overall well-being. Side note: All professionals have their own style about how they want to approach a project, so make sure you feel comfortable with that individual as you will be spending time with them in your home and sharing your personal spaces.
One last tidbit of advice about home organization and decluttering?
Ask yourself when was the last time you used something, or how you felt when you wore something. If you haven’t used something in a while, or worn a particular piece of clothing, maybe it’s time for it to go. Challenge yourself to let one thing go per season.
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