It is an age-old problem for everyone as we go through life: we accumulate various items, we put them away, and when there is no more room in the closet we just leave them sitting around the house. This is the simplest definition of clutter. It is not something happening overnight. It builds up, month after month, year after year until you realize that you are figuratively being kicked out of your house by all the stuff you’ve accumulated. If your house looks more like a place for storing items than people living in it, then you need to learn some solid principles to decluttering it and reclaiming it as your living space. We are here to help you with tips and solutions which other people applied successfully in their own homes. Let us start:
#1 Schedule Decluttering
If you keep saying to yourself that you will start decluttering your home but do not set aside a specific day to get started, you never will. Decluttering is exhausting, not at all pleasant, there will be some arguments with family members who cannot let go of old stuff…so it is understandable why you keep putting it off. However, you must get started and you must state a date and an hour. In this way, you will hold yourself accountable for doing it.
#2 Keep Things Visible
It is easy to toss items in a cupboard without being neatly arranged. Pity the next person who needs a specific item – they will have to go through all the clutter to find it. The solution to this? Buy as many cabinets and cupboards with glass doors. When all the items inside are visible to anyone, serial clutterers will think twice before carelessly tossing items inside the cabinet. This system works for all the rooms in the house, from the kitchen to the bathroom.
#3 Target Top Offending Items
What type of item causes the biggest clutter in your home? Books? Clothes? Toys? This item must always be on your radar, and as soon as you notice an accumulation above your tolerable level, you must act. The longer you wait, the more items you will have to put away. Make your family aware of this top cluttering item, and ask them to be careful to put it away after using it.
#4 Don’t Overestimate Your Capacities
It is unfeasible to think that you will deal with all the clutter in your house in one day or one weekend. It is a long process, proportionally long to the period of time since the last time you cleaned up all the old and unwanted items. Plan your home decluttering methodically, room by room, and make sure that you have completely cleared all the unnecessary things from one room before you move to the next one.
#5 Birds of the Same Feathers
You probably have lots of similar items spread all over the place. They can be anything from glass coasters, to scented candles, to can openers and so on. Gather them and put them together in the same place. Once you do that, tell everyone in your family to return the items to the same place after using it and put newly purchased one there, too.
#6 Dealing with Papers by the FFR Rule
The FFT rule for papers of all kinds is simple: file it, frame it, or recycle it. It is incredible how many papers people seem to accumulate. Old magazines, receipts and warranty certificates for electronics long sent to the recycling center, various scraps of papers make their way into our homes and start piling up until they nearly conquer every nook and corner. It is time to apply the FFR rule and keep only what truly is important.
#7 Go Paperless Whenever You Can
Talking of paper, another great way to get rid of them is to rely on online or electronic versions of items such as user’s manual for various electric and electronic appliances. Most international manufacturers have already taken this step, replacing paper manuals with links to access it or DVDs. However, every home still has those old booklets for the vacuum cleaner or washing machine although you can easily download their manuals from the producer’s website.
#8 Throw Away Damaged Items
You still keep that stained blouse which not even a professional dry cleaning service could not clean, waiting for the miracle solution to make it look as good as new. And the coffee table with a wobbly leg which your husband promised to fix a few years ago, but never got around to do it. All these damaged items will never be fixed. They will keep cluttering your house and remain unusable. It’s time to throw them away.
#9 Create a Filing System
Once again we return to paper (see, it is the no.1 cluttering item in every house!). This time, let’s see what is to be done with those papers which you must keep, such as financial and administrative documents. Take inspiration from a neatly organized secretary’s desk: create a simple, ergonomic and easy to use filing system in a drawer (or several of them) and never leave one important piece of paper sitting on tables or anywhere else where it could get lost.
#10 Treasure or Trash?
This is a very sensitive principle to decluttering your home: the children’s room. Children pick so many things from outdoors and have so many toys and to them they are all important, even if they are damaged beyond repair or purposeless. It is difficult to negotiate with children, but with a little compromise here and there you will be able to remove most of the clutter from their room.
#11 One of A Kind
This is a very useful rule for your home office: keep one item of each type and store away the other. You will not need more than 1 pen, 1 highlighter, 1 ruler and 1 stapler at a time. So why would you hoard all of them on the table or in the drawers, when you can keep other useful things, such as documents you are currently working on?
#12 Golden Rule: Nothing on the Bed
Large and inviting, the bed becomes a primary target for leaving clothes on it, instead of making the effort to fold them and place them in the wardrobe or on a chair if you still need them. Do not place even one sock on the bed. It will quickly grow into a habit and turn your bed into a shapeless mass of clothes during the day (never mind the effort of moving them somewhere else in the evening).
#13 Organize Items by Purpose
If you store Band-Aids in one place, cotton in another place and disinfectant in yet another, do not be surprised that every small cut or bruise suffered by one of your family members will create a trail of clutter before it is taken care of. Instead, keep all related items in the same place, and you will never have to deal with clutter.
#14 Tag Your Wardrobe
One important source of clutter is your wardrobe. You want to pair this blouse with that skirt….but where are they? So you start looking, taking out clothes, putting them back in frustration…If all your clothes were tagged by type and always kept in this order, you will always find the ones you want easily.
#15 Box Duplicate Items Together
How many times did you buy a new personal care or house cleaning item while you still had some left? All these supplementary items take up place in the least likely places, and chances are you will forget about them and buy some more. Here is the solution:
#16 Going By the Numbers
Out of creativity in labeling boxes with various similar items (such as clothes)? Just number them and make sure they stay neatly ordered on the shelves. Make a list of the items and keep it stored in your phone or home computer.
#17 The 3-Item Rule
Bookshelves are so inviting for various items, such as framed photos, china decorations or other novelty gifts! Soon you will be out of space for actual books. To prevent this make a simple rule: no more than 3 items other than books per shelf. Problem solved!
#18 Make It Fun For the Kids
If they perceive it as a game and not a chore, children will be enthusiastic to help you declutter. Buy brightly colored bins and ask them to arrange their toys by color.
#19 The Remote Solution
Keep all your remotes together, next to the device they are used for. Your living room table will look much cleaner and less cluttered.
#20 Wheel Away
Whatever cannot be assigned to a specific place should be placed in baskets inside a cart on wheels which can be moved from room to room, as it is convenient.
And we have reached the end of our recommendations. We hope that you found enough useful principles to decluttering your home to make it inviting and spacious once again.