“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein
1. Give it a home!
Take a look around your house, what
stands out the most to you? Do you have lots of random papers
everywhere? Kids toys? Dog treats? Shoes? Give these items one specific
place and keep them there. For example, when you bring in the mail, have
a designated place for it to go so that papers don't pile up around the
2. Start clearing a starting zone
. Give yourself a starting point. Depending on how ambitious you are it could be a high-traffic area, or a smaller space in the home. Make this one area completely clutter-free. Once you're done removing the clutter from that area (no matter how small or large), keep it clutter-free and keep expanding the space until your whole house is clutter-free!
3. Clear off a counter
. I think this is my mother's favorite de-clutter rule. She will not go to bed until all of the counters and tables are cleared off and everything is put away. This is a great rule to live by because it's much harder to keep clutter if you have no where to put it! If you're like me, and love to leave stuff everywhere because "I'm going to use that again in a little while", it's best to start small with one counter and work your way up to all of the flat surfaces in your home (tables, kitchen island, etc.).
4. Pick a shelf
. This is great if you only have a few minutes. Pick one shelf in your house every day and make it clutter-free. Get rid of all of the things that don't belong. Either throw them away, put them in their proper place, or donate them. You don't have to do all the shelves in one room or on one piece of furniture, just clean one shelf.
5. Schedule a decluttering weekend
. Ask a friend if you can borrow their truck one weekend, and block off one weekend for the family to de-clutter the house. Pick up some boxes so you can choose what you want to stay, donate, throw away or relocate. Make sure that each room has four boxes so that the items in that room can be categorized. At the end of the day, haul the throw aways to the dump and take the rest to Goodwill. If there are some items that you aren't sure about - you don't want to get rid of it per say, but you don't want to stare at it every day either, make a "maybe" box. Put everything you're unsure of in the box, and store it in the attic. Then, put a note on your calendar in 6 months and decide what you want to do with it then. This give you an opportunity to see how often you actually use those items and how badly you want to keep them. *You also may want to add a 5th box, if you want to have a yard sale - but make sure you actually set a date for the yard sale and follow through.
6. Re-learn how to buy
. One of my friend's had a rule growing up, that he wasn't allowed to buy anything with his allowance the day he saw it. He had to wait a month before making a purchase, that way he knew that he really wanted it. What a great idea for his mom to instill in him at such a young age! It's so easy to go by the $5 bin at Wal-Mart and pick up several DVD's that you have wanted forever and they always end up taking up more space and you only watch them once. Instead, make a list of things that you want to buy while you're out that isn't a necessity, and put them on your calendar. After 1 month, if you can't get that item out of your head, go get it. Most of the time, they are impulse buys and this will save you lots of money and clutter!
7. Teach your kids where things belong
. This only
applies to the parents among us, of course, but if you teach your kids
where things go, and start teaching them the habit of putting them
there, you’ll go a long way to keeping your house uncluttered.There is nothing worse than stepping on a Lego at 2am and trying not to wake up the whole house - just to go to the bathroom! Of
course, they won’t learn the habit overnight, so you’ll have to be very
very patient with them and just keep teaching them until they’ve got it.
And better yet, set the example for them and get into the habit
8. Pull out some clothes you don’t wear
. You may have seen this on Oprah. Take all of the clothes in your closet and turn the hangers around backwards. At the end of the year, anything not turned back needs to go to Goodwill. Let's face it, if we haven't worn it in a year, then we probably will never wear it again. You can something similar to your drawers, and just put the clothes in upside down (have the folded half of the shirt face the back of the drawer instead of the front).
9. Clear out your medicine cabinet
. If you don’t have
one spot for medicines, give them a home! Clean out all of the expired medicines, anything that is empty, trash, etc. Only put medicines in here that will be used regularly or are not out of date (pain relievers, blood pressure medicine, band aids, etc.). And no, the Vodka and Bourbon don't belong here!
10. Pull everything out of a drawer
. Just take the
drawer out and empty it on a table. Then sort the drawer into three
piles: 1) stuff that really should go in the drawer; 2) stuff that
belongs elsewhere; 3) stuff to get rid of. Clean the drawer out nice,
then put the stuff in the first pile back neatly and orderly. Deal with
the other piles immediately!