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All Things Neat

Clean Up Your Act This Spring

Hooray, it's almost springtime! It's time to breathe in that fresh air and peel off those extra layers of clothing. There's nothing better than opening the window to enjoy the springtime air—it brightens one's mood, right? Now it's time to brighten and refresh our homes!

Most of us live in home environments that showcase the good, the bad, and the ugly. We have furniture, tchotchkes, kitchenware, and clothing that may or may not be useful. We may have purchased something ourselves, received it as a gift, or inherited it. The question is, do we really want—or need—all of it?

Then, there's the laundry list (pardon the pun) of tasks or things that need to be addressed. Did you sew that button you've been saving on your shirt? Have you made the time to try removing the stain on your daughter's dress? What about that serving platter that got chipped over the holidays and that coffee mug with the broken handle? How long do you plan on keeping it, knowing it's probably never getting fixed? Are your children's outgrown toys cluttering the playroom or basement? Can you park both cars in your garage? Is there a place in your home that you ignore because it stresses you out?

We all experience clutter in varying degrees. It can have a real impact on our stress levels and our ability to focus. It's easy to put off decluttering or "do it another day," and as most of us can attest, the longer you live somewhere, the more stuff you'll accumulate.

I highly recommend eliminating items that you do not use, love, or need anymore. I understand it's emotionally difficult to get rid of things you've inherited, including furniture, home décor items, or mementos. As a professional organizer, I can wholeheartedly give you this advice: donate it if you're not using it. Aunt Ginny will be fine, and you'll regain your space!

Another tip I've discovered over the years is an important one. Don't assume that your adult children will want your things. They. Do. Not. (Well, ok, maybe one or two items). Save them the trouble of having to one day dispose of that stuff (and possibly feel guilty about it). If you do it now, you can enjoy the feeling of conquering the clutter and the open space that comes with it.

Here's one more piece of advice. Those collectibles or precious antiques are probably not worth much. People tend to think their valuables are worth more than they are. Don't try to assign a monetary value to something yourself. Instead, have a professional antique appraiser evaluate it.

The space in your home is a precious commodity and valuable real estate. Go through your home with a critical eye to determine what possessions are no longer loved, practical, or usable. Then, decide if these items should be discarded or donated. Ultimately, you'll reclaim your space and feel mentally lighter and less stressed. And, perhaps a person in need will be delighted with your donations. It's a win-win for everyone.

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Hope Kerner is a professional organizer whose company, All Things Neat, helps people declutter and organize their homes. All Things Neat provides full-service move assistance from packing/unpacking, hiring antique appraisers, and moving and estate sale companies in Bergen County and surrounding areas. Hope's company also helps families navigate the disbursement of the home contents of departed loved ones. For a free in-home consultation or more information, contact Hope at www.allthingsneatbyhope.com or at 973-493-6359.

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