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Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to say,
- … Every room in my house is in a state of order and tranquility …
- … I know right where to find everything I need …
- … My closets and cabinets are beautifully organized …
- … I don’t have a single pile robbing me of my peace of mind, anywhere …
Most of us long for our homes to be beautiful and to reflect the best part of who we are. We usually think it will cost an arm and a leg to get there, or at least require a crew of handymen, a couple gallons of paint and some new carpeting.
But a lot of home beautifying can be accomplished by simply eliminating much of what we already have!
Becoming clutter-free is an undertaking, but once you get started on your campaign to cull and organize your possessions, you will most likely become a junk-free junkie!
Here are some wonderful tips to get you started on your journey to the land of organization and serenity.
Where to Start Your New Clutter-Free Life
Begin anywhere. Where are you standing right now? Grab a trash bag (a BIG one!!). Set a timer for 15 minutes and fill up the bag with stuff you don’t want. If you can’t fill it all the way with things from the room you are in right now, go to another room, and then another one and stuff away. Go until the timer goes off or your bag is completely filled. Then donate it or walk it out to the trash can.
How did that feel?
If you did this simple exercise once a day for five days, think about how much weight in clutter your house will have lost in less than a week!
This is truly guerilla organizing! But by taking this random approach, you will gradually get a feel for which room you want to focus on next and make your decluttering a little more purposeful. Write out a strategy for yourself, then devote a certain period of time each day for a week on that one room.
After a week has passed, you can decide if you want to continue working in that room, or revisit it again after you have addressed the other rooms in the house that need work.
Stick with your strategy and check off your accomplishments as you go. You will fuel your adrenaline and keep yourself motivated that way.
Declutter Around The Clock
You have determined your first room of focus.
I recommend starting at the room’s entry point and going clockwise around the room until you are back where you started.
Assemble 3 good-sized boxes and label them Put Away, Give Away, and Throw Away. You can also have a box or bin for the items you can’t make a decision on yet. You can hold onto it in a remote place, like a shelf in the garage, and if you haven’t needed or used the items in the box after six months, it’s time to let them go.
Working around your “clock,” start at the highest shelf, drawer or surface. Take everything out and sort. Only put back what you love, need or use. Box the rest appropriately.
When putting things you are keeping back, store like items together. Another rule of thumb is to store items closest to their point of first use. For instance, keep bars of soap in a cabinet close to the shower, and toothbrushes and toothpaste close to your vanity sink.
When it comes to displaying objects on surfaces like tables or dressers, limit yourself to three to five objects. Placing articles in odd numbers is most pleasing to the eye.
Implement Habits to Remain Clutter-Free
Usually every single day.
Nip clutter in the bud with these ninja tactics and feel your blood pressure fall away …
- Every time you come home, empty out your car. Toss the trash, put away the shopping, hang up your jacket, sort the paper, file the receipts. You will be amazed at how elegant it feels to drive without hearing the rattling of coat hangers or the rolling of 3-day-old coffee cups. If you have to throw the brakes on suddenly, the only thing you will have to catch is your breath!
- When you bring in the mail, sort it over the recycle bin. Don’t let anything mailed to you get further than that before it earns a place in your inbox. Pay bills right away and put them in an organizer by what day they should go out, or use an online payment service like Paytrust.com by Intuit. It’s awesome. Respond to invitations, purchase gifts online to be delivered to the happy couple or birthday guy/girl, and mark the date, time and location on your calendar. Post the invitation on a bulletin board you look at every day until the event has happened, then discard. Or keep invitations in an inbox along with other paperwork that requires more thought, and set aside a regular time each week and hammer it all out.
- Get a good scanner. There is nothing sweeter than an organized set of filing drawers. But that requires … um … filing. Scanning paperwork is a much more efficient way to go. My favorite scanner is the ScanSnap. If you store your scanned documents in Evernote, they are completely searchable, even if you don’t get around to tagging them. Or you can purchase a ScanSnap that is specifically dedicated to Evernote. ScanSnap has an organizer of their own where you can create files and store documents. This is optimal for financial material you will need for tax purposes. It may be more “filing” than you want to do, though, so your choice.
- The old adage, “A place for everything, and everything in its place,” may be cliche, but well worth following. File drawers, see-through boxes, and clothing, desk and kitchen organizers may seem pricey at first blush; but once put into service you will be glad you made the investment.
- Don’t Stop Purging. I like to “deep clean” one room a week. I set a timer for 15 minutes a day and go through a drawer, closet or shelf. It’s quick and easy, and the rooms in my house don’t get the opportunity to be swamped with stuff that continues to accumulate. You don’t have to be maniacal about it. Done is better than perfect. As I once read from The FlyLady, even a bad job of housekeeping is worth doing.
Deter The Acquisition Of Stuff
Stuff never fails to entice us, does it? Especially when it’s on sale. Set up a new script in your mind that says, “just because it’s 99% off, it doesn’t mean I have to have it!!” Your wallet may be in for a pleasant surprise when you determine to skip the sales. Buy what you need. Take a break with the rest and see how it goes – you may love living lighter!
Not Sexy Enough?
Getting organized may sound more like a chore than an opportunity to artfully express yourself with beautiful interior spaces. But it is the first step, really, to seeing what’s possible. And when you have filled the space back up with your choice of colors, textures, lighting, artwork, and furniture, you will be grateful you took the challenge to make your rooms ever-ready to show off!
Over the clutter,
PS: To decorate your newly decluttered space without fear, be sure to sign up for my free Design Cheat Sheet here 🙂
PPS: What strategies for decluttering have worked for you? I’d love to know! Be sure to comment below!
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