6 Steps to Overcoming Clutter
Wanna know a secret? Here…lean in and I’ll whisper it in your ear. Ready?
I am absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst packrat and clutter magnet that you will ever meet.
Really. I am. Unfortunately, I also have more than a tad bit of OCD so my life is almost always ready to be in a state of constant conflict with itself. It could be a very, very bad situation if I let it be. Luckily for me, I have gotten very good at clearing out clutter quickly and efficiently so that it doesn’t become that issue that it could be. (okay, with the exception of when my mother in law brings a moving truck of stuff to my house for me to sell…that wasn’t exactly done efficiently, but hey…we all flake out sometimes)
Anyhow, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, these 6 steps to overcoming clutter should help some. The biggest thing that you’ll want to do though? Breathe and realize that you can do this.
1. Clear it Out - Pick the first area that you want to declutter first. For me this is usually the area that is bothering me the most and its usually not the “best” place to start…lol. Once you’ve got your area targeted, go ahead start pulling things out of drawers, closets, or wherever else you may have stuff stashed. You’re not trying to make a huge mess (although you likely will), you’re just trying to clear the areas that are cluttered into one large pile. While you’re at it, this would be a great time to clean under things and inside of drawers or shelves if they need it.
2. The rule of 3’s – Once you’ve got everything pulled out, its time to start going through it all. You’re going to create 3 piles. Keep, donate and trash. Work your way through your big ol’ pile of clutter sorting the items into those 3 piles as you go. Be sure that you keep an eye out for any papers that may need to be shredded because of personal info on them instead of trashed. Keep sorting things into your piles until you get all of it sorted. For trash, use the big 30 gallon trash bags and immediately take it out as soon as each bag is full. (Trust me on this…even getting rid of 1 or 2 bags out of that pile will help you feel A LOT better about the whole shebang.)
3. Move it Out -Once you’ve got the trash taken out, immediately box up the donate pile and take it out to your car. That last part is incredibly important. If you do not take it to your car to go to the thrift shop or shelter that you’re donating it to, it will stay in your house and the chances of it ending up spread back across your home are crazy high. Immediately taking it and putting it in the car or truck sends a firm message to yourself that the clutter is leaving and going to a better place where the items are needed more.
4. Put it in its place – For the items that were in your “keep” pile, find a place for them right away. Don’t leave the sitting there, don’t put it off until tomorrow, put the items away. Again, if you put off doing it, you chance that they’ll end up just spread out across your house somewhere. Give it a permanent home too, not just some place that you’re stashing it until later. If you give it a temporary home, you’ll be more likely to just sit it down in some random spot when you’re done using it, but giving it its “place” requires that you put thought into putting it back.
5. The 15 Minute After Effect – Once your home is nice and clutter free, keep it that way easily by putting the 15 minute rule into effect. Each night, spend 15 minutes just picking up and putting things back in their places. Some people find that its easier for them to keep up with if they put a small basket or tote in each room so they can just toss the items into it, pick the tote up and put things away. No matter how you go about it, make sure that this gets done every night. Its the key to keeping clutter at bay.
6. The 6 Month Purge – The biggest trouble that we get into with clutter is that we keep items long after we have a use for them. To keep the clutter that you just cleared away, be sure that you purge every 6 months. If you haven’t used or worn something in 6 months, it is time to let it go. Keep a box that says donate in your bedroom, garage, basement or anywhere that works for your family and at the 6 month mark, start dropping those things into it. Once that box is full, donate it. Keeping up on clearing the clutter is the only sure fire way to stay clutter free.