When clutter is everywhere—on the counter, in the bedroom, under the coffee table—it can reduce productivity and increase stress. Gaining control over clutter can often feel like the first steps of gaining control over your life. Decluttering your home can give you more time and space to spend with family and friends. The hardest part might be getting started, but we’ve put together a few simple tips to help get you on the right path.
1. Get Organized Before You Begin
It’s best to plan for success. Before you start, get three bins, boxes, or garbage bags and label them—donate, throw out, and keep. (If you want, you can do a fourth container labeled ‘sell’ for items you want to sell on Craigslist or eBay.) As you systematically work your way through your house, sort items into the correct container. The decluttering process will feel more organized from the beginning.
2. Start Small
You may want to declutter your entire home, but for some, that can be an overwhelming place to start. Your best bet is to start in a small space like the junk drawer in your kitchen. Go through one drawer first systematically sorting items into your bins as you go. Once you’ve finished one small space, move to another. This breaks up the job into manageable chunks. The next thing you know you’ll have one room completed.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Donate or Throw Away
If it’s broken or you’ve been meaning to fix it for over a year, throw it out. If you haven’t worn it in over a year, donate it. The same goes for items you just don’t use. As much as you love that concert poster you bought two years ago, if it’s still rolled up at the back of your closet, you probably don’t love it enough to keep it. Donate it. Throw it out. Get rid of it.
4. Set a Timed Decluttering Goal
It’s possible to spend days cleaning and decluttering your home. That very thought could be keeping you from making progress. For those who have a hard time staying motivated to declutter, set a short timed goal for yourself. A five, ten, or fifteen minute timed goal is enough to clean a drawer or organize a small closet. As you work on these small timed goals each day, you’ll start to see some serious progress.
5. Take a Picture
Sometimes you can get so used to your living space that it can be hard to see the clutter. Take a picture of your space. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to spot trouble areas like that one corner of the living room where all your books seem to congregate. You’ll start to spot those places that might have been hidden from you before.
Once you’ve made your way through a room, try to establish house rules that will keep clutter from building again. Try having each family member put away five things before they go to bed or set aside twenty minutes at the end of the day for cleanup. Remember, clutter doesn’t go away in a day. It takes time to sort and organize your items until you’re left with only the belongings you need or truly love.