I was drowning in clutter. Some days I felt like walking through my home blindfolded. No matter how much I cleaned and put away the house still looked like a huge mess. I was ashamed to have people over and even my family had days where they would look round and sigh. What was the culprit? Clutter!
Clutter is all the little junk that builds up in your home and in your life. It starts out small: a pile of unopened mail, some broken toys, or a few old tools with no home. Then it adds up until you are buried in a mountain of mess.
Here are some ways to dig yourself out and reduce the clutter in your home:
1. Nothing New – When you get started cleaning up clutter it can be hard to know what to do first. The first thing I always do is to make sure nothing new gets added to the pile. Just like digging in sand, if you keep letting the hole fill back up then you are wasting your time. Instead make it a point to keep everything new out. Mail should be tossed or dealt with before it comes in from the mail box. No new clothes or toys or gadgets should come in without tossing twice as much out first. If you can keep the pile from growing then you can make progress.
2. Paper Cuts – I find that the easiest and hardest things to get rid of are paper. Old photos, documents, mail, even newspapers find their ways to every flat surface and make a permanent nest there. Get rid of the paper by scanning important photos and documents to your computer. Not only is it safer to store them that way but it cuts down on the clutter big time. If you are afraid of losing them then make a backup on the cloud or on a separate drive. This also gives you a chance to name the documents so that they are easy to find later. A great organizational tool!
3. Broken Bits and Bobs – After the paper you should focus on getting rid of what is broken. If you have not fixed it in two weeks or longer then you should toss it. Why? Because it is obviously not that important to you. I know you would like to think you will get around to it, but be practical. Is it worth the effort and time it will take to fix it? Don’t get sentimentally attached to broken items. Instead be thankful for the memories you have and then get rid of the junk. The same idea goes for ripped, patched or button-less clothing. By the time you fix it you won’t want to wear it anyway. Or your kids will have grown out of it!
4. Double Up – In my family we have issues with throwing out the old things when we get new ones. Old televisions, VCRs, video tapes, cassettes, and so on cluttered our home. They had all been replaced by better, newer versions but we couldn’t stand to toss the old ones out. You do not need a backup! Anything that you have replaced needs to go. Although it may still be ‘good’ that does not mean you have to keep it. Donate it to the Goodwill or sell it at a pawn shop. Do not keep it in your home.
5. Clothing Crazy – Some of us, ahem me, have issues with clothes. We have way more clothes then we need or even then we can wear. I don’t know about you but I tend to have a favorite pair of jeans that I wear to death. So why do I have fifteen pairs of jeans if I only wear one? That’s just the problem. We get so caught up in having more that we forget that more is not always better. Sometimes it is just more. If you can, cut down your wardrobe to what you actually wear. I know you bought that trendy shirt but if you have never worn it then what good is it doing? If the clothes don’t fit, toss them. Even if you do lose weight you won’t want to wear your oldout of style clothes so why are you keeping them?
6. Complete Collections –Speaking of the more is better mentality, collections can quickly become clutter if you don’t have a place to store or display them. Don’t think you have to have EVERY item in a collection. Instead think about what made you start collecting in the first place. A happy memory? A joint effort with a friend or family member? Just a love for the thing itself? Try to cut down your collection to what is really important to you and sell the rest. That way you can actually enjoy your collection instead of storing it, tripping over it, and becoming frustrated because it is not ‘complete’.
7. Antiques or Junk – When I think about collections I also think about antiques. There are a lot of items in our homes that hold sentimental value. Some of those items can also hold monetary value. However you need to be able to see the difference. Although you may think something that is old is very valuable a little research could prove you wrong. Do not hold on to old itemsjust because they are old. Take the time to see if you can sell them for a good sum. If not, then get rid of them. If so, then sell them. Although it is nice to think you will profit more later I find that having peace of mind is much better. You know the old saying; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Who is to say the item won’t get broken later? Sell it while you have it and gain some room in your home. I made the mistake of not doing that once. I had a very old piano in good condition that someone offered to buy from me. I refused and the next time I moved it was dropped in the move. Now I have a pile of heavy wood and iron instead of a valuable piano.
8. One At a Time –Keep in mind that cleaning out clutter takes one step at a time. Although I know you would like to finish your whole house in one weekend trying to do so will just wear out and frustrate you. Take it one step at a time. It might be that you clean out one room or even one closet. It took me three days of solid work to clean out one walk in closet in my home. However I took pride in the fact that I got it done! It can be disheartening to look at the big picture so focus on one spot at a time and relish the small victories.
9. The Spots – Last but not least, make sure everything has a spot. You should not keep anything that you do not have a place to store. In smaller homes this can be a hard thing to learn. However if you make sure you have a place for everything then you will not have to deal with your clutter problem again. If not then you will have to dig yourself out again in a short time. Who wants to do this twice? Make sure you have assigned spots for every item you decide to keep and you will be better off.
As you can see, reducing clutter is not easy. However it is doable. Just make sure that when you get done you keep it that way. Every time you bring something new in something of equal size must go out. It can be hard to keep this up, especially with kids, but it is well worth the effort to avoid having to dig yourself out once again.
Author Bio: This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.