There’s nothing better than coming home after a long day … until you flip on the lights and see your stuff everywhere. Clutter can be a very real source of stress, as it overloads your senses with extra stimuli that it doesn’t need or want. It also signals to your brain that there’s still work to be done, which is probably an unwelcome sentiment when you’ve just gotten home from the office.
That’s why it’s time to get rid of the clutter and reclaim your home as your sanctuary. As an added bonus, it’ll look great, too. Here are six tips to get you started.
1. Focus on One Area at a Time
It might sound like a good idea, but don’t go too big with your organizing efforts. Sure, you’ll want to hit every cluttered area eventually, but starting on every project at once decreases your likelihood of completing any of them. Instead, choose a room or a corner where you’ll start and do everything you need to do to declutter that specific area.
It’s also a good idea to take on de-cluttering and cleaning at once when going through a zone cleaning phase, rather than coming back to clean later. For example, if you’re cleaning out your garage, declutter, and then commence cleaning the floor with debris and loose dirt with a floor scrubber for optimum efficiency. The last thing you want is to do is be on your hands and knees scrubbing when you could be watching your favorite TV show!
2. Take a Shopping Hiatus
Another way to instantly cut down on the amount of stuff filling up your home is to stop buying it. We’re not saying you should give up on groceries or the other necessities you need to buy. Instead, force yourself to really think about each purchase and whether or not it’s something that’ll be put to use immediately or something that’ll sit on a shelf for the foreseeable future. Honesty is the best policy for clutter cutters, and no deal is good enough to warrant buying something you simply don’t need right now.
3. Don’t Drop and Go
Parents know drop and go all too well: When kiddos come home, they typically rip off their sneakers and drop their backpacks at the door and just … go. You can’t press your luck with children and teens, either, so don’t try and force them to hang and organize their things somewhere far from the door where they typically do the drop. Instead, install a simple organizer in your mudroom or entryway in order to keep things tidy as possible.
If they seem to forget this simple requirement, remember that one day you’ll look back fondly on hanging their backpacks, scarves and coats.
4. Use Every Shelf
Unless you’re Shaquille O’Neal or someone with height comparable to a basketballer, there’s a good chance you don’t take advantage of the top shelves in your cabinets and closets. We can’t blame you for that: It’s not useful if you can’t easily reach its contents.
In order to make every shelf useful, invest in a few slim, foldable stepstools that you can keep in the closets or rooms where shelves would be otherwise inaccessible. Then, take advantage of your newfound storage space.
5. Donate Now!
A great big source of clutter for many families is the donation pile. You gather it with good intentions, collecting everything that your spouse and children don’t wear or don’t fit into in order to bring it all to a local charitable organization. The only problem is that it never makes it to the donation site and instead catches dust.
The best way to force yourself to drive your donation to its new charitable home is to put it in your car right away. With your donation bag in the passenger or back seat, you’ll see it all the time and be much more likely to remember that you need to drop that stuff off ASAP. We’ll give you bonus points if you put it in your car and deliver it right away.
6. Maintain It All
You don’t have to focus your cleaning and organizing efforts as heavily once your space is decluttered. In fact, some experts believe that a 15-minute cleanup session every night is enough to maintain your newly organized space. During that time, you’ll put everything back into its designated spot, lightly clean and tidy up items such as throw pillows, which – when left unfluffed and askew – make the entire room feel untidy.
In the morning, you’ll be greeted by a put-together space that might just help you start your day out on the right foot, too. There’s nothing much better than that.