Our homes begin clean and free from excessive clutter and then BAM! Suddenly you wake up one day and it seems that everything you have ever owned or come into contact with is out in the open and driving you crazy! Yep, I am just as guilty AND just as frustrated with it all. But where do you start when it seems to be an insurmountable task? Take baby steps – using our list of 18 five-minute tasks on simple ways to declutter your home to help you feel less overwhelmed.
In a brief five minutes, you can begin to make a dent in that clutter. Every little bit counts and eventually, you will be satisfied with what you have accomplished and continue to find ways to stay organized. If you start with five minutes today of decluttering and commit to that five minutes every day this week, you will have put in 35 minutes towards conquering your disasters. Perhaps tomorrow those five minutes will turn into 20 and if you are anything like me, seeing that clutter disappear is a rush!
#1. Assign a Specific Spot For Papers
Bills. Coupons. The kids’ report cards. The neighborhood newsletter. Receipts. The number of pieces of paper you receive on a weekly basis can be overpowering and are often left on any clear space. It is important to assign a specific spot for these papers and something as simple as a decorated basket or box can work.
Before dumping everything in that box, go through the papers first. Are there some that can be tossed or even better yet, recycled immediately? Deal with those accordingly and put the remainder in the designated basket. It seems so simple but can really help to declutter your home.
Another alternative is to sign up for paperless billing. With today’s technology, one of the best ways to declutter your home is to receive all your bills and other notices via email.
#2. Begin With One Area
This is probably one of the best tips to get organized. I am not talking about clearing an entire room or portion of your house. Recall what I said previously about baby steps? It is important to start with things that are manageable and that can mean something different for each individual.
Decide on one area to be your no clutter zone. Think of somewhere that you know you can keep completely clear. Maybe it is the coffee table, or the dinner table, or perhaps just that square foot in front of your closet. Whatever that area is for you, keep it clear from anything that is not actively in use – this is an important step to declutter your home.
Once you have made that decision to keep that spot free from clutter, keep it that. Eventually, that space can grow and expand into larger areas. So is that treadmill in the corner of your bedroom nothing more than a repurposed place to hang your dirty laundry? Get rid of it and begin to simplify.
#3. Clear Off a Counter
Countertops are notorious for allowing us to create clutter because they are such glorious flat spaces. They hold everything and nothing ever falls off, does it?
All kidding aside, clear one counter at a time and only keep the absolutely essential on it. Does your kitchen countertop currently hold all your appliances because you just MIGHT use them today? Come on, when was the last time you actually used that juicer or bread maker.
Put them on the shelves below or sell those that you no longer utilize them.
#4. Choose a Shelf
You’ve chosen the corner countertop to keep clear and free from the junk, now pick a shelf. Anywhere. In the kitchen. The bathroom. The closet. On the bookshelf.
Clear all unnecessary items from that one shelf. Stand back and admire it. I bet it makes your smile!
#5. Plan a Decluttering Weekend
I know what you are thinking – an entire weekend dedicated to decluttering? I thought you said baby steps, Kim! Yep, I did and maybe that weekend isn’t the one coming up in three days but schedule a weekend that you put aside for decluttering your home.
Get the kids involved, teach them life lessons about needs versus wants, and maybe even get them to choose to donate some of their toys to those who are less fortunate. Turn the music up loud and get everyone involved! The entire house may not be cleared but it will still be a huge step forward.
#6. Find a Place For 5 Things
Everything should have its place but where is that place? Find five things that you actually use and think logically about a place for them. Next step – pick up those things and put them in those proper spots, their new homes you may say.
Now you can always find the items you need and you know where you can put them – one of the great benefits when you declutter your home.
#7. Envision Your Room as You Wish it Were
Step back for a moment and ask yourself, “What do I really want this room to look like?”
Inevitably, if you are reading this article, your room is currently cluttered and you are looking at various objects that are non-essential to your vision.
Once you realize what you want it to look like, you can begin removing what does not belong.
#8. Have a “Possibly” Pile
It should be easy to figure out what you want to keep and what you do not, right? Wrong! There are things that you know you use on a daily basis and could never part with and there are those things that make you question where it ever came from but what do you do with those things that do not fall into either category. You need a “possibly” pile.
Put said items in a box and put it away for six months. Revisit that box and ask yourself if you really needed those items. The answer is probably not. So now is the time to rid yourself of its contents. Bye-bye!
#9. Donate to Charity
There are always things that you no longer need or use but are not garbage. Donating to charity is a great way to help someone else and it even benefits the environment by keeping so much out of our landfills.
Load up a box but don’t make the mistake I did by putting that box in the corner and telling yourself, “I will put it in my car tomorrow”. Tape that box up and take it to a donation center right away.
#10. Make a 30-day List
Once we start to declutter, we begin to enjoy our space more but what do most of us do? We buy more stuff and the evil cycle of clutter begins yet again. Much of what we purchase is far from necessary and is often a result of excellent marketing.
Start thinking realistically about what you are buying and ask yourself, “Do I really NEED this right now?”
Sit down and make a list of what you want to buy (without buying it) and mark the current date.
Revisit the list after 30 days and see if you still need that item. If it is still necessary, then perhaps the purchase is worthwhile. However, if you are on the fence about the merchandise, then it is not likely adding anything to your life but additional clutter.
#11. Teach Your Children Where Things Belong
If you have children, you know they can leave behind a trail of clutter like one of the largest hurricanes! Teach them that everything has its place and needs to always go back there. Have patience with your little ones and realize that just telling them once where things go will not become a habit for them.
Demonstrate to them and help them along until it becomes second nature to them. Not only is your desire for decluttering being met but you are also teaching them a life lesson that they can carry into their adulthood. Before you know it, you will have created another generation of declutterers!
#12. Create a Simple Folder System
As was mentioned previously at the beginning of this article, papers are one of the largest contributors to our clutter. There never seems to be a proper place to put them and they always find their way all over the kitchen table.
By creating a simple folder system, you can help rectify this problem. Have some colorful file folders and labels for those recurring papers – bills, school information, receipts. Place these folders in the basket or box that you have designated for all of your loose papers.
Now it is easy to find what you need without digging through a mountain of papers.
#13. Be Sure to File Immediately
Your folders are labeled and ready to go! However, they are only useful if you actually use them. As soon as you get any type of paper, make decisions as to where they need to go.
- Is this garbage?
- Is this recyclable?
- Is this to be filed in my new fancy filing system?
Avoid putting off your filing because that only leads to clutter and that is exactly what you are trying to avoid.
#14. Examine What Clothes You Do Not Wear
It is 6 a.m. and as you stand in front of your closet deciding what to wear, you grab that one blouse that you wear once a week. But what about those three other shirts that you rarely if ever reach for? Removing these pieces from your closet is just one of the ways to declutter your home.
Take a few moments to examine your closet and remove those pieces that you don’t gravitate towards. Maybe they can be donated or passed on to a family member. If you live in a climate like mine, you inevitably have different wardrobes for the changing seasons.
During the warmer months, remove the heavy sweaters that you won’t be wearing and store them in a clear container. (I prefer clear containers as opposed to boxes because I can then see exactly what it contains.) Your closet and drawers should only contain what you currently wear on a regular basis.
#15. Clean Out Your Personal Hygiene And Medicine Spaces
Medicines, especially those in a pill form, should not be stored in the bathroom because of the high humidity levels. So now is the time to go through them, and dispose of those that are expired. (Many pharmacies will take them and dispose of them properly.)
Also, inspect your personal hygiene items. Remove those that are outdated, that you will never ever use, or caused your face to break out in a burning rash. Maybe you have three opened boxes of Band-Aids – condense them into one container (again, use a clear one and label it if the existing box is not useable).
Organize similar items together. I did this last week and realized I have five toothbrushes and six tubes of toothpaste for just myself!
Get down to the bare essentials and think about donating your excess to others who may need it more like a women’s shelter.
#16. Tackle That Junk Drawer
We all are guilty of just throwing random things in a drawer and before you know it, you have the dreaded JUNK DRAWER – the drawer that gets in the way when you want to truly declutter your home.
Today is the day you are going to take that drawer, pull it out, and dump it on the floor. (I suggest putting down a towel or sheet beforehand – where did all those pencil shavings come from?)
Begin sorting the contents into three categories:
- Stuff that actually belongs in this drawer
- Stuff that doesn’t belong in this drawer and should go in another place
- Stuff to get rid of
Put the items from category one back into the drawer in an organized fashion and tackle the other piles immediately.
#17. Enjoy Your Clutter-Free Space
You have created a clutter-free area and maybe for right now, it is just a small corner in your bedroom. Stand back, observe the lack of clutter and enjoy it. Feel a sense of calm that all your hard work has created. Your mind is clear, your breathing is slowed, and you have a sense of accomplishment!
This is your new norm and as you recognize the effect it has on you, you will begin to detest the remaining clutter and perhaps even discover new ways to declutter your home.
#18. Encourage Those Who Live With You to Contribute
Unless you live alone, often the other people who live with us contribute to the clutter as well. If you truly want to achieve a clutter-free home, those other individuals need to be on board as well.
Sit them down and talk about how the current status of the space is affecting you and how efficiently it is running. Involve them in the above-decluttering tasks and celebrate together as you move towards a simplified lifestyle!
Our homes are meant to be a place of solace and calm, the area you can relax and feel like the remainder of the world does not exist. By completing the above ways to declutter your home, you can accomplish a space that gives you all of that.
Create a life filled with only the essential things so that you may discover your new life, clutter-free.