I blame my husband and three kids, but I am responsible for the clutter, too. Eventually, I reach a point where I’ve had enough. It happened this weekend. I was trying to find papers for work and a receipt so that I could return items. I spent 45 minutes searching – I found the work papers and finally gave up on the receipt.
I was inspired to make a dent in the chaos. To achieve a balanced life, your physical “stuff” needs to be in balance, too. It’s important to have everything in its place, toss the junk, and find a new home for those things you no longer need.
While it seems overwhelming to declutter your entire house, it is much more manageable if you take it room by room. Here’s a list of areas to start decluttering and take it one step at a time:
Entry way/ front closet
When everyone in my family walks in the door from the garage, they dump coats, shoes, purses and backpacks. Take back your entry or foyer:
- Use hooks to hang coats on the wall. Add a lower level of hooks to store purses or backpacks.
- Put in a bench or attractive boxes or baskets to hold hats, gloves and extra shoes.
- Incorporate a small table with bowls or baskets to hold keys, wallets or other small items.
Kitchen and pantry
I think the stuff in my cabinets multiplies while I’m not looking. At one point, I probably had 25 coffee cups. I’m the only person in my house who drinks coffee! Cut through the kitchen clutter:
- Sort through dishes and get rid of those you never use. You don’t need 10 travel mugs or 4 different styles of drinking glasses. Pare it down to what you really need.
- Cut down on the plastic containers and casserole dishes. Go through your plasticware and get rid of cracked and broken items as well as mismatched lids or bottoms.
- Put away the appliances you only use on rare occasions. Just remember where you put them!
- Clear out the extra cleaning supplies, get rid of what you don’t use or consolidate containers or boxes where you can.
My pantry is always a mess. I straighten it up and then the next time I buy groceries, I just shove everything on the shelves. Or, someone in my family can’t find an item, and they jumble up the entire pantry searching for it. Here are some tips to make your pantry work:
- Toss canned goods, boxes and spices that are out of date or you never use.
- Group your foods by type or use on the shelves. Then it will be easier to find the items you need.
- Do an inventory before you go grocery shopping so you don’t over buy an item. I have 6 jars of spaghetti sauce in my pantry right now.
Clutter – like people – tends to gather in the living or family room. Here are some tips to keep your living room picked up:
- Get rid of old magazines and newspapers.
- Knick knacks can add to a cluttered feel. Unless they have sentimental value or lift your spirits when you’re in the room, clear out the odds and ends.
- Put kids games or toys in a cabinet or storage area.
- Get rid of DVDs, video tapes and CDs or other collections you rarely use.
I sometimes wonder how we fit so much stuff in one of the smallest rooms in our house. Bathrooms hold so many health and beauty items. Here’s how to keep them organized:
- Toss out old or out-of-date medicines and put like items beside each other.
- Combine containers when you can. For instance, put all the Band-Aids in one box.
- Consolidate partially full bottles of shampoo and soap and limit each person to one open bottle at a time.
- Go through make-up and throw out what you don’t use or is over 6 months old.
- Arrange items in totes or baskets in the bathroom cabinets.
Garage or basement
Garages and basements tend to be where items that don’t have a home go. Due to their size, these spaces may take more time, so you may want to set aside a few days or even a weekend to tackle them.
- Be serious about sorting out the junk. Donate or throw out items you don’t want or won’t use again.
- Use shelves and hooks to hold items you regularly need.
- Store items by type or use – for instance, group gardening and lawn tools, swimming pool supplies, holiday decorations and sports equipment in their own areas.
- Toss old paint, cans of oil, newspapers, boxes, etc. Check the rules in your area for throwing out and recycling items.
- Go through boxes and purge what you don’t need.
- Get rid of tools you don’t use or have duplicates of.
I love my junk drawer. Really, I love it. I recently renovated my kitchen and wanted to put in a dishwasher. For a while, I was afraid I would have to give up the cabinet that held the junk drawer in order to fit in the dishwasher. I was extremely stressed about losing the junk space. Keep your junk drawer, but clear it out regularly:
- Take everything out and sort it into piles. Get rid of things that you no longer need or know what they belong to. Cut down on extras – I once had at least 100 bread ties in my drawer.
- Buy a plastic tray with dividers or use small plastic containers to group and organize items.
Mail tends to pile up. You may put it in a basket, stack it in neat piles or hide it in a drawer. However, when it gets away from you, you may forget to pay the bills or miss an important event. Clear as much paper clutter as you can:
- Get and pay your bills online.
- Rather than keep the whole magazine or catalog, tear out the pages you want to keep. Or, take a photo with your phone.
- Create an area to organize your papers. Put up a pocket wall hanger and make folders to keep track of any bills or paperwork that needs to be filled out. Put papers related to your kids in another folder. Use a folder for things that are urgent so you know to check it frequently.
You can conquer the clutter. Simply take it one room at a time and organize things in a way that makes the most sense for your household. When you finish one room or area, go on to the next. You can quickly enjoy the rewards of a clutter-free home!