You don’t have to wait for spring to have a thorough cleanout. As soon as that clutter starts to crowd you in, mentally and physically, it’s time for action. After all, do you really want to drown in a sea of insignificant memorabilia, bedside table pick-up sticks, a mounting floordrobe, or dust-coated items untouched in years?
Forget the excuses:
- One day it might fit me
- I’ll read it when I have time
- If I can’t use it, I’ll keep it for someone who can
- It was too expensive to get rid of now
- It reminds me of a special time or person
- It may look like a mess to others but it’s organized chaos to me
Declutter: Where to start, what to keep and what to throw away?
Before you embark on a mammoth household clutter-bust, start with something easy, like a drawer or small cupboard. You need a fast and impressive result for encouragement. And remember, decluttering isn’t just about throwing things out, but putting items back in some kind of order, so you can find anything, from a pair of scissors to a telephone bill in a matter of seconds.
When it comes to clearing out your lounge or kitchen, keep to a time limit, such as two to three hours, and work through a room in sections. If you’re having trouble, make it a two or three-step process.
Ask all household members, including your children, to help with the clear out. That involves teaching them the ‘one in, one out’ rule – if you buy a new toy or piece of clothing, an older item must be passed on.
Cull, cull, cull
The key to a clutter-free house is to reduce your clutter as much as possible and then have good storage solutions in place. When culling, sort your mess – be it toys, books or clothes – into four piles. That means deciding whether it needs to be thrown out, sold or given away, put back where it came from, or stored somewhere else.
How to keep clutter at bay
Once you’ve decluttered and culled, the key to having a tidy space is always putting things back in their place. Don’t start building more piles or shoving things into drawers or you’ll soon be back to where you started. If you’re too tired to sort paperwork at the end of day, make a time each week to file bank statements and notes from school.
Clutter-busting tips for each room
Kitchen: When decluttering your kitchen, start with pots, pans and containers. Chuck out any chipped or cracked china plus any pots or pans with broken handles and dense coatings of burnt fat. Also throw away any plastic containers that don’t have lids and make a resolution to tidy your pantry three times a year. Check use-by dates on cans, wash containers and arrange cupboards according to type. Everything needs to be clearly accessible.
Bedroom: Start decluttering you and your kids’ wardrobes by only having seasonal clothes hanging up. This means storing your summer clothes if it’s winter and vice versa and you’ll instantly have double the wardrobe space! If there aren’t enough shelves in built-ins, buy storage systems that fit inside them. Use suitcases for storage under the bed. Compartmentalise large drawers, so your best lingerie is separate from sports bras etc and you can find what you need without rummaging.
Family room toys: To help your kids put their toys away when they’ve finished playing with them, make sure they have easy spots to store them. That means containers without lids, as small children have to use two hands to put things away. Teach the kids that everything has a place and must be returned each night.
Bathroom: When it comes to clearing out the shelves and cupboards filled with shampoos, soap, shower gels, discarded make-up and cotton buds, first take everything out and get rid of anything that isn’t being used. This includes complimentary items from hotels you were saving for guests, old shampoos that are almost finished but not quite, and old, empty perfume bottles.
As you go through the process, you’ll discover more and more what’s important to you. If you haven’t worn or used an item for several years (some decluttering experts advocate three months!), give it to charity or bin it.
The aim is to find a home for your clutter. For instance, sorting and filing papers to a permanent home behind closed doors and drawers is much better than leaving them on open shelves and surfaces where they will continue to assault your already overloaded senses.
The good news is that terrific and well-priced storage solutions are readily available at heaps of stores. These are crucial to living a life without clutter so use them and relish in the empowered lightness that freedom from the stuff we no longer need will bring.
Happy and successful Clutter Busting.