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Everyone has a little bit of clutter lying around their home. But when that clutter becomes too much—perhaps when you start to feel stressed out by it—it’s time to do something about it. In this article, Shannon Acheson, author of “Home Made Lovely,” shares 25 top decluttering tips to help get you started and clear the clutter once and for all.
Everyone has a little bit of clutter lying around their home. But when that clutter becomes too much—perhaps when you start to feel stressed out by it—it’s time to do something about it.
According to Budget Dumpster, clutter is “anything that you’re keeping that doesn’t add value to your life.” It follows, then, that decluttering is removing those things that take away from your life or don’t add value to it.
Clutter isn’t all bad. But it can cause stress, frustration, and even embarrassment. Clutter can also be a huge time and money waster because you can’t find things when you’re looking for them, which may cause you to buy the same items again.
There are several reasons to remove clutter from your life. Living in a clutter-free home means having:
- Less to clean
- Less to organize
- Less stress
- More money
- More time
- More freedom
25 DECLUTTERING TIPS FOR FINALLY CLEARING THE CLUTTER
Put simply, life is too short to live in a cluttered house. Here are 25 tips to help you declutter your home and make room for the things that are important to you. Some of these are mindset shifts that will hopefully lead to “a-ha” moments. Others are practical tips for reducing your clutter.
1. Your home is not for storage.
Your home is for living in; it’s not for storing all the things. So don’t treat it like a storage unit!
2. What you keep costs you.
For every item you decide to keep, you must decide whether it is worth it to store, clean, and look at. Every item in your house takes up space, both physically in your home and mentally in your mind.
3. Ask yourself if it’s worth keeping.
When considering the things in your home, you need to ask yourself if each item is useful and if it is necessary. You probably don’t need three can openers or ten mixing bowls, but you likely do need several tea towels. Collections of things are fine, but don’t let them become cumbersome.
4. If it’s not necessary, is it beautiful?
It is totally okay to keep things just because they’re pretty to look at. But don’t overdo it! There’s no reason to clutter up your space with more than you need.
5. Would you buy it now?
As you are purging and organizing, ask yourself if you would buy that item brand new today. Would you pay full price for it? If the answer is no, then you can get rid of it.
6. Keep a “Donate” box somewhere.
This tip is truly life-changing! We started doing this accidentally when our upstairs hall corner was naturally designated as the ‘donate’ spot every time our kids cleaned their rooms. Finally, we put a plastic bin there, and now it is much easier to pack up items for donation every so often.
7. Start small.
Start with one small drawer or closet and give it a good purge.
8. Use the power of small wins.
Get some experience in decluttering under your belt by tossing things you know you don’t need. Here’s an easy list of 50 things you can toss guilt-free today.
9. Work in short bursts.
Start with just 5 or 10 minutes. Set the timer and focus on decluttering for that time. Sometimes you can make a lot of progress in one short time period. You can definitely make a lot of change in several short bursts strung together!
10. Take before and after photos.
Just like before and after renovation or décor photos show vast improvement, so can before and after decluttering photos inspire us to keep decluttering! A great before and after can be the inspiration you need when you don’t feel like decluttering another area.
11. Use garbage bags.
Garbage bags are super helpful in decluttering. They can be used for trash or for donations, and they can easily be carried from room to room. To use them, grab a trash bag and walk around your home simply focused on gathering any garbage. Then grab another bag and walk around again focused on the things you know you don’t want or need anymore.
12. Take the 10-10-10 challenge.
Walk around your home and collect ten things you can toss, ten things you can donate, and ten things that need to be returned to where they belong in your home.
13. Pretend to visit.
Go out and come back into your home pretending you’re a visitor. Walk through and look with fresh eyes at your things. See what stands out or seems out of place. Then declutter using this new information.
14. Choose a decluttering and organizing method that suits you.
There are many ways to go about clearing the clutter from your home and keeping things organized. We are all built differently; our minds work in a myriad of ways. So choose methods and systems that actually work for you and your family.
15. Clear off flat surfaces.
Your home will instantly look less cluttered if you clear off the flat surfaces and keep them cleared off. Remove everything and then organize it in a logical place behind doors, in baskets, or in drawers. Keep as little as possible on surfaces.
16. Try ‘one in, one out’.
The ‘one in, one out’ rule means that for every item you bring into your home, you need to remove one item. It’s best if those items are closely related or live in the same area of your house.
17. Make sure everything has a home.
Steve McClatchy (author of “Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example”) says, “Everyone has a place in their house for forks. If you found a random fork in the bathroom or under the couch, you’d immediately know it didn’t belong there and would return it to its drawer without another thought. Everything in your life should be this easy to put away. If an item occupies no specific location when not in use, it becomes clutter.”
18. The mess has to get worse first.
Unfortunately, when you’re decluttering, the mess has to get worse before it gets better. You have to pull things out to sort through and reorganize them. But it will get better! Just keep going!
19. Create spaces for clutter.
Are you finding that there is always a pile of keys, papers, and things at the front door? Then create a space for them! Put a bowl on the table for the keys and spare change. Add a small basket for the mail, or snag a hanging fixture like this to hold all of the above! Deliberately make spaces to corral certain types of clutter in order to keep them from being overwhelmingly messy.
20. Add decluttering to your calendar.
Once you add your ‘decluttering date’ to the calendar, stick to that date like it was an important appointment. Because it is!
21. Choose dual or multipurpose furniture.
When you are short on space, you need items that will serve more than one purpose. For example, invest in a nice storage ottoman or a lift-top coffee table. That way you have somewhere nice to stash extra blankets or the remotes when you’re not using them.
22. Adopt a nightly routine.
Habits are where it’s at when it comes to keeping a house clean and clutter-free. So, get yourself into a routine of tidying up the kitchen after dinner or the living room before bed. There’s nothing like waking up to a tidy space.
23. Label everything.
And I mean everything! If your kids aren’t big enough to read yet, teach them to tidy by cleaning up alongside them and use printed photos of the items so they know where to put them.
24. Watch for visual clutter.
In my opinion there are two kinds of clutter—actual clutter and visual clutter. We’ve talked a lot about actual clutter here. But that still leaves visual clutter. Visual clutter consists of things like gallery walls (I love ‘em, but if they aren’t cohesive and tasteful they can look cluttered), too many small décor accessories, or mismatched storage items.
25. Get help
Have a friend come and help you. Often a fresh set of eyes can really help you decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Or if you are able to afford it, pay a local organizing company to come and help you or do the organizing for you.
These tips will provide you with a helpful start as you begin to reframe your mindset and make some decluttering progress in your home. If you want more help clearing the clutter, visit HomeMadeLovely.com or grab a copy of “The Clutter Fix: The No-Fail, Stress-Free Guide to Organizing Your Home.”
Which of Shannon’s tips have inspired you to start decluttering once and for all? Do you have your own decluttering tips to add to her list? Share with us in the comments!
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