Well, it’s time to organize your attic. The weather is nice, and you have time in your schedule. So you open your attic and what do you see? Boxes, crates, luggage, clothes, furniture, bags, toys, and coolers, and those are just the items that aren’t hidden in the back!
You decide it would be better to start this on a different day. The weather wasn’t as good as you thought; it’s hot in the attic. So you shut the door. This is a common occurrence.
The Uncle Bob’s Home Clutter Heat Map on the Decluttered Home suggests that you divide your attic in to four sections and put things in three piles (one for items you want to keep, another for those you wish to donate, and a third for things to throw away). This is a great idea – if you can get into your attic, that is.
I suggest this technique to my friends, family and other non-clients. I personally help clients work through this process. But when you have trouble even accessing your attic because of items blocking the doorway, consider these seven steps to get your attic in order:
1. Be safe.
The first thing to think about is the type of access you have into your attic. Safety is an important concern. If you have a folding staircase or ladder access to your attic, make sure to get some help. Even if you have a Texas basement or a walk-in attic, it’s important to have an assembly line to get items in and out.
2. Plan well.
Devise an action plan. Think of a place in your house (i.e. the garage, patio, driveway, den) where you can put the boxes when they come down out of the attic. This will be your staging area, so it needs to be a place that you or your family won’t need to use until the project is complete.
If you don’t have an area in which to do this kind of sorting, then think about finding a local Uncle Bob’s and renting a 10×10 space for a month. This keeps your household area clean, your items out of the elements, and a clean place to keep working.
3. Take it slow.
You’re going through items that you’ve kept for a reason. You’re going to have flashback memories as you unpack, and those memories are going to take an emotional and mental toll on you. Work in small increments, give yourself plenty of breaks, and keep at it.
4. Time to work…
Once you’re physically and mentally prepared, it’s time to get to work. Find a helper and take a few boxes out of the attic. Start with two or three boxes. Remember – don’t overwhelm yourself.
Take these to your staging area. Go through those boxes and sort them using the three-pile system. Once you have that batch of attic stuff taken care of, box up what you’re going to keep. Label the box with what it contains and put it to the side.
Put the throw-away stuff in the garbage. Itemize the things you’re going to donate, and put them in a box in the trunk of your car. Use plastic boxes for the items you want to keep and cardboard boxes for the items you want to donate.
5. Remember, take it slow!
Okay, so you have three boxes done. Good job. It’s time to do three more boxes and repeat the steps above.
It’s very easy to get down a dozen boxes at the beginning so you don’t have to keep climbing up the ladder. But remember, you have to put them somewhere. And it’s much easier to deal with three boxes at a time than to deal with your whole attic all at once.
6. Get it back in the attic.
Once you’ve created walkable space in your attic and finished the three-pile system, it’s time to put things away. Identify sections of your attic to separate boxes containing items of different categories.
Just like your self-storage unit, the things that you will not access as often should go farthest from your attic entrance. If you want, use a Sharpie pen or painter’s tape to draw boundaries for different areas. This is your attic; make it how you want it.
7. Get the rest of the house organized!
Now that your attic is looking great, you can tackle the rest of the house. Use the Decluttered Home’s Home Clutter Heat Map to get you started.
And now that your attic is manageable, when you find things in the house that need to go into storage, you’ll know right where to put them!
Article written and contributed by Judson Crowder of Restorganize.com.
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