Decluttering for a home sale and mental health

Spring is around the corner, and for many it is the time to get a home ready for sale. Decluttering is a key component of preparing a home sale; while it is the core of “spring cleaning” for the rest of us.

Besides being the beginning of the path to selling your home, researcher and writer Deane Alban stated that decluttering is also the “gateway to taking better care of other aspects of life.” She asserted that the human brain is “wired to respond positively to order;” and there are health benefits to clutter-free spaces; which promotes feeling “calm and energized” (Declutter Your Life for Less Stress, Better Mental Health;

When it comes to clutter, we are not the same. There are degrees to the amount and types of clutter we collect. And for many, getting motivated to declutter is a challenge; severe clutter collections could be considered hoarding by some. Dr. Robert London, a psychiatrist specializing in behavior modification, wrote about his professional contemplation of the relationship between clutter, hoarding and obsessive compulsive personality disorder. After consulting with a Professional Organizer, he concluded that many can benefit from their much needed service of guidance in “letting go” and getting organized (Decluttering — Is it Therapy?; Organization professionals perform a valuable and, yes, therapeutic service;; November 5, 2010.).

Besides the psychological aspects that make us hold-on to “stuff,” one roadblock to decluttering is a common misconception that the goal is to have an immaculate home; which can make some feel anxious and/or overwhelmed (especially if the home sale is due to a negative life event). Instead, an underlying principle to decluttering is about creating an organized and spacious feel to a room. Another misconception is that you throw out everything you don’t need or want in your home; however, you have control over what items get thrown out, recycled, donated, or kept in storage.

One strategy to encourage your decluttering efforts is to plan. Rather than trying to complete the job in one weekend, try decluttering one room (or even one part of a room) per day; and for some, it may be as little as removing one or two items per day.

When going through each room, decide which items are necessities and which items need to go. You will undoubtedly come across many items that you decide are not necessary to keep out for everyone to see, yet they are personal or sentimental – these items can be stored. The items you decide that you no longer need or want can be donated, disposed of, or you might even decide to have a yard sale!

Of course, we are all busy; and finding time to declutter can be another obstacle to overcome. To help relieve the pressure, consider delegating responsibilities to family members. Consulting with professionals to guide your planning could save time as well. Some professionals even recommend a “decluttering party” as a way to ease the time crunch while making it fun.

Decluttering a home may feel as if it an exhausting task, but it doesn’t have to be; especially if you have a realistic plan. If you need help with your decluttering, you can check with your Realtor® (if you are planning a home sale) and/or you can consult with a Professional Organizer. The National Association of Professional Organizers ( maintains a national directory of Professional Organizers.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2016

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.