Clutter is one of those things that can accumulate on your kitchen table, coat closet, social calendar and emotions. And the truth is it can impede our path to doing the things we really need to do, and from having the home environment that we desire. So I reached out to top notch professionals who organize lives, homes and paperwork for a living. They have clutter down to a science and have shared their best strategies for reducing clutter in a timely, easy, maintainable and painless way.
1. None of us are immune to clutter. I had to head the list with a little reality check from Dana Claudat from The Tao of Dana. On her site she outlined a helpful checklist for recognizing your need to declutter. Here are a few to get you going:
- you cant get things finished even though you have plenty of time
- you spend more time cleaning- or talking about having to clean- than you do most anything else in your home
- a feeling like you want to avoid a part- or your entire- home or office
- financial or physical issues that are vexing and don’t seem to budge.
2. Break it down into couch potato sized tasks. Susan Santoro from Organized 31 makes reducing clutter painless with her “couch potato” strategy. Susan explains that reducing clutter and purging is often a daunting task. It just seems too big and overwhelming so we put it off until “tomorrow.” She suggests that you break it down into tasks that you can accomplish while watching a favorite TV show or movie. This breaks the task down into small
enough chunks to be do-able and also doesn’t seem like work since you accomplish it while watching TV.
3. Delegate clutter to its owner. Mridu Parikh from Life is Organized has a strategy where you keep a basket or bin for every person in your
household. At the end of each day walk through your home and put everything that belongs to another person in their respective basket, for them to put
away. This strategy helps get the burden off of you, teaches others in your home accountability and responsibility, and reduces general clutter that
slowly piles up over the course of a week.
4. Think of reducing clutter like defragmenting a computer. Bob Sadowski from At a Glance recommends taking on clutter “one bite at a time.” It’s easy to forget that we’re not super-human and can take on 100 tasks at once—but it doesn’t stop many of us from trying! Nevertheless, you need to approach tasks like de-cluttering in small chunks—15 minutes at a time works well. This makes the tasks at hand much more manageable and provides you with a genuine sense of accomplishment when you’re able to complete them.
5. Set the timer. Holly Wolf shared that most people struggle to get started or feel overwhelmed. With the time pressure people will do better at making fast decisions-keep, toss, or file. In most cases, they toss more because it’s the fastest way to do it. If you have all day, you start to say “maybe I’ll need this or I’m going to start sewing after the holiday” instead of putting it in the donate bag. Another great tip from Holly: it helps to have a trash can, recycle bin and a donate bag closer to you than anything else.
6. File, don’t pile. Seana Turner from The Seana Method stated that despite the influx of paperless solutions, we all still have a lot of paper. Paper is best stored in vertical files, whether the files hang in a file cabinet, a box, a bin or a desktop sorter. Papers that are piled on top of each other get lost, and we end up losing a lot of time sorting through the piles to find the page we need. Furthermore, we often forget about tasks because we no longer have the visual clue of the piece of paper to remind us. The benefit: You will be able to quickly retrieve the paper you need.
7. Own your day. Clutter isn’t always the stuff laying around the house. It can be general chaos in our day, so we have an inner strategy from de-clutter expert, Lisa Haisha. Whatever time your child has to be up, get up a half hour earlier and have a 10-minute meditation on what you’d like your day to be like. Visualize yourself as a calm and relaxed go-getter, solving problems and accomplishing great things. This will ground you and allow you to be centered when the commotion inevitably strikes.
8. Clutter is just unmade decisions. Bonnie Joy Dewkett from The Joyful Organizer promotes on-the-spot decision making to reduce clutter. It takes just a few minutes to decide where something should go and to put it away. However, dealing with it again later, will take you even more time. Do it now.
If clutter has piled up, Bonnie recommends dealing with the oldest first. Chances are, for example, the receipts are for items you no longer own, or the
clothes no longer fit. Once you start to make movement on the older items you can easily and more quickly go through the newer items.
9. Store items close to where they are used. When tackling clutter it’s always emphasized that you should have a designated home for everything. Virginia’s Easy Living Solutions takes it a step further, stating that one of the key mistakes which lead to a space being cluttered and unorganized is failure to store items close to where they are used. This leads to them not being put away promptly.
10. Implement the one-in-one-out rule. Sometimes decluttering can be a struggle between logic and emotion such as this strategy from Allison Flinn from Reclaim. Allison states that in order to keep balance in your home and clutter at bay, for everything you bring into your house, something must go. Sometimes we just want it all, but excess leads to clutter pretty quick.
How do you like to tackle clutter?
Eve of Reduction: Extra tips and wit on Facebook; Reduction Beauty on Pinterest ; The debut DIY lifestyle book (includes 10 upcycling tutorials); and the guide to creative streams of income ebook (only $2.99).