reduce household clutter

Every house has clutter and some areas of the home are worse than others are. These ideas will help you tackle clutter a step at a time.

Start out small. Don’t dump everything out into the center of the room, thinking you will force yourself to complete the room in order to get rid of the mess. You will end up feeling defeated because the room will look worse than it did, to begin with. By breaking the task up into smaller jobs, you will be able to achieve a goal every so often, which will boost your enthusiasm and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Try working for ten or fifteen minutes at a time. There are obviously other things you would rather be doing, and it is far easier to close the door on a cluttered room than it is to get busy and sort through it. Encourage yourself to spend at least ten to fifteen minutes per day in each room that needs work. You will be surprised by how much you can accomplish in that length of time.

When you start out, you may be tempted to set a timer or watch the clock so you can run out of the room the second ten minutes have passed. Before long, the allotted time will come and go and you will continue working. You will start thinking, I’ll just finish up this area and then I’ll quit, and before you know it you will have been working for half an hour. The exciting part is that your room will be noticeably shaping up.

Go through everything. Do not just push that box of stuff to the back of the closet. Go through it and see what is actually in there. Many times, it will be junk that you really do not need or old papers and things that you can get rid of to free up more space. Go in with the goal of reducing boxes and other containers by at least one third, and by half if possible.

Set up separate sorting areas. You may have seen organization shows or read books on organizations that offer similar advice. That’s because it works. Set up an area for items you wish to keep, items that can be stored in another area, things you wish to donate, and an area for trash. Using boxes or laundry baskets to contain the items rather than piling things up will keep each section neater and keep items from creeping into other sections.

As you sort, every item must be placed into a designated area. When you are finished sorting, immediately remove items that you wish to store, and place where they belong. Take the trash out to the curb, and load any items that you wish to donate into your car. Then next time you go out, drop them off at the donation center or dropbox. It doesn’t do any good to sort everything if you just leave it all lying there.

Learn to throw things away. If that pair of jeans with the broken zipper has been lying there for six months -or longer- either fix the zipper right now or throw the jeans away. Do not leave them there for another six months or pack them away for later.

Stop purchasing new items and find the ones you already have stashed somewhere around the house. When you begin sorting, you will find many things that you haven’t seen for a while. Don’t be surprised if you end up with four or five pairs of scissors or other tools that are commonly misplaced. Make a vow to stop replacing such things instead of locating the ones you already have. Choose a place to keep your scissors, and put them back in that spot when you finish using them, every time. While you’re at it, donate a couple of those extra pairs of scissors.

Donate or sell items you do not need or use, even if they are valuable. Many people fall into the trap of keeping things they paid a lot of money for; even if they know they will never use them again. If it’s collecting dust, it isn’t valuable, no matter how much you paid for it. Donate such items to charity, offer them to family members or friends who will actually use them, or consign them. Putting an ad in the paper will take time (i.e. create an excuse to keep the item longer), and you know you are probably never going to get around to having that garage sale, so take the item to a consignment shop and enjoy the extra space.

Utilize space more efficiently. If you have gone through everything and removed as much as you can, but you still do not have enough space to put things away neatly, you need to find creative ways to use space more effectively. Is there an empty suitcase under your bed? Fill it with bulky sweaters that take up too much space in your closet. Do you have more books than bookshelves? Stack extra books in shallow boxes, such as those that canned goods come in, and slide them under your sofa.

Seek help. If you have done your best, but do not feel that it is enough, it may be time to seek help. Ask friends and family members for tips. Review websites and read a few of the many books available on this topic. If you still have trouble, call in a professional organizer. An organizer has no emotional attachment to your stuff, so he or she will have no problem urging you to get rid of things. Organizers are also very creative in maximizing available space and making sure there is a specific place for everything.

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