Today's mission is to get rid of your attic clutter, or at least to work on that process in one or more 15 minute sessions.
We're doing this Declutter 365 mission as part of the Attic Organizing Challenge here on the site, which is part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge.
As always, the first step in any organization project is to declutter, so that's what we're focused on today, and then you can check the Organization Challenge article link above to get the full step by step details for organizing the space after it's decluttered.
As anyone knows who has been doing these daily missions, I advocate decluttering 15 minutes at a time, and that includes in storage areas.
Recently, we worked on decluttering the basement and then decluttering the garage, and for both of those spaces I provided steps for doing the task without making a big mess, which involved using a staging area to help you focus on one box at a time, and cleaning up regularly (check out the article links for more details if you want them).
In some ways decluttering the attic will be done in the same way as these other storage areas, and in some ways it won't.
What distinguishes the attic from these other spaces is that typically the attic is much more difficult to access than a garage, basement, or other storage area.
You've got to climb up and down some type of ladder, and it's often impossible to stay in the attic for long periods of time to do your decluttering in that space itself, because it's not temperature controlled, quite dusty, and sometimes the ceilings are so low you can't even stand straight up.
Therefore, when decluttering the attic you've got to bring the stuff down to you, for sorting and decluttering, instead of making a staging area right in the space to work through the process.
Before you begin removing the clutter from your attic you need to decide, for yourself, how you'll get the items down from the attic to sort through.
There are two main choices: (1) bring one box or item down at a time, and then deal with just those attic items you brought down, before moving on to the next thing stored in your attic; or (2) bring everything down from the attic at once.
Normally, in any other space, I would caution you NOT to choose option two, because trying to deal with everything in a large storage space at once is a recipe for an explosion of clutter and mess that can quickly become overwhelming.
However, when accessing things in the attic I know, practically, and for safety reasons, you may need someone else's assistance to bring everything down from the space, and it would be inconvenient to have to have that person help you every single time you want to bring one box down. Or, even if you're doing it yourself, you may want to only work up the courage to head up there once, instead of going back repeatedly for several days to weeks, depending on how much time you can devote to decluttering in each of your sessions.
If your situation is one where everything needs to be brought down at once, I suggest that before you start decluttering the attic you declutter and clear out a large staging area somewhere else in your home (that is NOT in an everyday living area) that you can place most or all of the items from the attic in. This cleared out area will soon fill with the clutter from the attic, but you'll then have space to work 15 minutes at a time, and using the staging area method you used for other storage areas, with the stuff from the attic.
That may mean, for example, completely decluttering your garage before tackling the attic, so you can pull out the car from your garage and then bring everything down from the attic and start the decluttering process all over again in the garage space, this time sorting through attic stuff.
If you instead can bring down just one box at a time the methods I already discussed for decluttering other storage areas will work in exactly the same manner for your attic.
As always, when focused on the one box or one item at a time method for decluttering, you have six choices for an object when decluttering your home.
Check out the linked article above for more details on how to declutter 15 minutes at a time without a mess, and for a more thorough review of those six choices.
You can also check out the How To Declutter Your Basement article here on the site for more in-depth discussion of the staging area you should use to keep from making a big mess while decluttering.
While it may seem like it will take you forever to get your attic decluttered, you're not alone. Many other participants of the Declutter 365 missions have taken on this task and made significant progress. Here are some of the photos they sent in to help get you motivated to begin this project!
Sometimes the hardest part of decluttering is getting started. One participant, Tammy, was really excited once she started though! She sent in this photo below, saying, "I started on my attic!!!!"
Below is a photo from a participant, Sarah, who said, "Our attic is a nightmare that definitely needs decluttered! I was tempted to skip it, not knowing where to start, but just grabbed a few totes to bring down and go through. I ended up combining 4 totes of books down to 2 and got them inventoried and labeled. It's a start, getting rid of all these books!"
Great job Sarah! You can get even more tips for decluttering books here.
Finally, make sure that once you've decided what should go that you actually get it out of your house. It's the last step in the decluttering process, but also one of the most vital, since you've not really decluttered until it's gone.
Here's a photo from a reader, Nina, who said, "Been working on the attic. Here's today's recycle and trash!"
I hope seeing these pictures and instructions have inspired you to declutter your attic.
When you begin to declutter the feeling you get is contagious, so if you're loving the results you're getting I would encourage you to keep going.
I've got a whole series of 15 minute decluttering missions (eventually 365 of them!) that you can do.
Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!
Top image courtesy of JeffHBlum, from Flickr Creative Commons, and first image in collage courtesy of Ross Elliot
I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!