Do you feel less productive than you could be? Your cluttered home may be to blame. Clutter can come in different forms — from the spoils of impulse buying filing up your closet to the junk mail piling up on your kitchen table. A messy, unorganized home can cause stress, anxiety, and frustration. It also can negatively impact your mental health and ability to focus on your work.
Clearing the clutter is the first step toward a more peaceful and productive life. It can not only give you a feeling of accomplishment and control, but also free up a ton of space in your home. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you start decluttering your home.
Set Your Decluttering Goals
You can conquer the mess more easily when you have a specific plan or goals in mind. Decide how much time you can spend on decluttering every day. Do you want to set aside your entire weekend to declutter your home room by room? Or, would you rather break it down into small task intervals spread throughout the week?
Anyone preparing for a major life change, such as having a baby or moving to a new house, may want to consider a decluttering session for their entire home. Prevention magazine offers several tips on how to declutter every room of your home in order to reduce stress and anxiety. The clear, detailed instructions along with before-and-after photos of real home transformations can help make the decluttering process easier and less daunting for newbies.
If you can’t spare several hours at a stretch or simply feel overwhelmed by the thought of spending an entire day wading through the clutter, you can start with these five-minute decluttering tips.
Moreover, if you only want to clear the superficial clutter from your home, you may want to try the “Trash Bag Tango” decluttering method. It recommends using two separate bags — one for trash and one for items to sell or donate. For 10 minutes every day, walk around your home with these bags and fill them with all the stuff you no longer want or need. You should start noticing a difference in just a week.
Decide What to Keep and What to Toss
Once you start decluttering, you’ll have to decide which items in your home must go and which items should stay. The “three-box” method — which involves three large boxes labeled “keep,” “toss,” and “store” — can help simplify this process.
Use the “keep” box for items you should organize and put in their proper place once you finish decluttering.
Use the “toss” box for items you want to remove from your home. You can trash, recycle, donate, or even sell the items for a bit of extra cash.
Many people find this process very difficult — especially when they hold on to something out of sentiment or misplaced value. If you haven’t used something for more than a year, you definitely don’t need it in your home. For example, do you have a family heirloom you don’t really love? If yes, consider giving it to another family member who might appreciate it more.
For each item you come across, ask yourself these three questions:
- When was the last time I used this?
- When will I use it again?
- Is it worth the space and my inner peace?
Remember, don’t move on to the next item until you answer all three questions.
Here are some additional tips to help you sort the items in your “toss” box. As a rule, you should:
- Trash expired makeup, broken toys, torn or stained clothing, dried-out markers, mismatched socks, and chipped dishware. If you have a lot of electronic equipment user manuals lying around, download the digital versions onto your computer before trashing the hard copies. If you want to keep the paper documents for major appliances like a dishwasher or oven for later reference, place them into your store box.
- Donate used clothing, shoes, accessories, toys, appliances, and books still in good condition as well as clothing hangers.
- Recycle electronics, magazines, glass, and plastic. Contact your local county or municipality if you have questions about your recycling options.
- Sell clothing, accessories, toys, and books in good condition as well as jewelry and antiques.
Move all the items you plan to donate or sell into your garage or the trunk of your car as soon as you fill each box. This approach will help you avoid any temptation to keep them.
Use the “store” box for items like important documents, kitchen gadgets, and other tools you don’t use every day, but want to keep for later. Once you finish decluttering, organize everything in your “store” box in neatly labeled containers and put them away in your storage area.
The “three-box” method can prove useful if you plan to clean one room at a time or even just one shelf in your bookcase.
Note: Storage containers and boxes are essential for organizing your home. However, while you may enjoy shopping for pretty storage containers, remember to declutter first and buy second. You don’t want to spend all that time decluttering to then bring more clutter into your home with containers you don’t need.
Decluttering is not a one-off job. You have to keep at it, or you’ll find yourself back at square one in less than a month. To help you maintain a clutter-free home, be sure to:
- Set new standards for every new purchase so you only bring home items you really need. Don’t buy something just because of a sale.
- Clean your kitchen every day.
- Create a daily habit of putting items back in their proper places before you turn in for the night.
- Follow the “two-minute” rule. If something will take you only two minutes to complete, do it right away.
- Unsubscribe from catalog subscriptions and junk mail and go paperless for your bank statements and other bills. Bringing less paper into your house means less clutter.
- Make it a family affair. Involve the whole family in your ongoing decluttering efforts.
A little bit of effort and commitment can go a long way toward maintaining a clean, organized home you’ll want to come back to every day. Here’s to a happy, clutter-free home!