We’ve talked about the reasons and process for decluttering in previous episodes, but if clutter’s getting out of control and you don’t have time for an big clean-up project, maybe just a few quick and dirty tips will help.
A Potpourri of Suggestions on How to Clear Up Clutter
As part of the ongoing pursuit of simplicity, I’m trying to declutter my physical space. But I don’t have a ton of time to sort and organize and categorize and install pretty shelves. I’ve spent some time looking into ways I can make progress quickly, and thought I’d share some with you.
1. Don’t have a ton of time? Spend just 5 minutes on a decluttering task.
Pick one of the quick and easy tasks from Leo Babauta’s article, “18 Five-Minute Decluttering Tips to Start Conquering Your Mess.”
2. Use seasonal wardrobe changes as a time to weed out the clothes you don’t wear.
Changing from winter to spring/summer? Before you pack away your winter duds, take a quick look at each item and donate or toss the ones you didn’t wear this season, or that are worn out and need to be replaced.
3. Tidy up the cluttered spot where everything gets dropped as you come in the door.
Replace the piles with a pretty bowl or tray to hold your keys and sunglasses, and remove the junk mail and other detritus.
4. Make it easy to donate to charity.
Keep a big box in the front hall closet or laundry room where you can easily drop items you come across that no one uses anymore. When the box is full, tote it to Goodwill or your favorite charity.
5. Get the whole household involved.
Declare a “Declutter Saturday” (or whenever . . . ) and challenge each person in the family to find 5 items to get rid of.
6. I like the “big brown box” approach to finding out what stuff you really need, and what’s just taking up space.
What’s your trouble spot? Desk? Kitchen cupboard? Clothes closet? Empty it out–put everything in a big brown box. Label it with the date and maybe a list of the main items it contains. Now take it to the garage or attic–somewhere accessible but inconvenient. When you need something, go get it from the box and put it in a suitably convenient spot. Anything left in the box after six months gets donated to charity–sight unseen.
7. Clear out your clothes closet.
- Keep a charity box in the closet so you can easily drop items in when you’re dressing and notice, “Hey, I really never wear this . . .” Items you no longer love might be just what somebody else is looking for.
- Turn all your hang-up clothes so the hangers are facing backwards on the rod. When you take an item off the hanger to wear it, turn the hanger so it’s facing the right direction. Everything that’s still hanging backwards after a month goes to charity.
8. Clean up that bathroom.
- Go through your medicine cabinet (and every other spot in the house where meds get stowed), dispose of anything that’s out of date, and create a single spot for all medicines.
- Sort through your towels and sheets and donate or toss all the old, stained, threadbare, and mismatched ones
- Thin out your makeup collection. Anything you haven’t used in the past year gets tossed; keep only what you love and use regularly.
- Find more ideas and some inspiring photos of pretty bathrooms in “Organized Bathrooms: Clean and Clutter Free.”
9. Dig your office out from the piles.
- While you’re on hold or on a boring conference call, clean out one drawer.
- Stacks of magazines or journals you’re going to read “someday”? Recycle everything older than a month. Flip through the rest and tear out the articles you think you want to read, tossing the rest.
- Check out this page on the University of Illinois Extension website for guidelines on what papers need to be saved, and for how long.
10. Deal with the cause of the clutter.
All the decluttering tips and tools in the world won’t keep our homes and offices uncluttered if we don’t understand why they got that way in the first place. For some thoughts to get you started, check out “Decluttering Doesn’t Work Like That.”
What would you like to make more space for in your life? What will you have to remove to make room for it? Is it worth it?
A Few More Resources
- We talked about the why and how of decluttering in more depth in episode 14 & episode 16.
- “10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home”
- “Declutter 101: Where Do I Start?“
- “Blast Decluttering Roadblocks“
What do you think?
Is there a particular clutter problem area you’d like to deal with once and for all? Or do you have a favorite decluttering tip you can share with the rest of us? Please share your suggestions in the comments below.
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