Does your home suffer from clutter?
Unless you’re a ridiculously organized person (in which case, please come and clean my house), you’ve likely tried to deal with the overwhelming and downright awful problem of clutter at some point in your life.
Likely, the clutter in your house isn’t necessarily due to lack of trying. Sometimes, we have pangs of inspiration, where we decide to declutter our home and expect it to stay that way. But inevitably, all that useless stuff starts to pile up, and we’re back to where we started. So how does this happen?
The Problem with Clutter
It may seem pointless to organize your belongings, and it may seem like too much too add to your already-full plate. However, the clutter in your life is likely affecting you more than you think.
One study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that clutter can diminish your ability to focus and process information. A research team conducted a survey for the Huffington Post that found that almost half of Americans worry that their home isn’t “clean or organized enough,” making clutter one of the top stressors in the country.
Luckily, though it may not seem like it, clutter is completely in your control. Here are nine ways to declutter your home.
9 Ways to Declutter Your Home
1. Take it One Step at a Time
It can be overwhelming to try to tackle all of the clutter in your entire house at once. Make it into a project and break it into steps. Focus on one room at a time, and if that’s too much, one section of one room at a time. After tackling that section, move on to the next. Before you know it, you’ll be standing in a clean, clutter-free house!
2. “Before” and “After” Pictures
Are you the type of person who starts a project but never finishes it? If so, when you’re about to start on a room or a section, take a “before” picture. Then, when you’re finished with that room or section, take an “after” picture. Compare the two and imagine what would happen if your entire house was transformed like this. You’ll have instant motivation to declutter your home–not just one room.
Related: How to Overcome Limiting Beliefs
3. Don’t be afraid to toss or donate it
One of the reasons you might have a lot of clutter in your home is because you just have too much stuff in general. The more possessions you have, the more difficult it will be to create and maintain a method of organization. Get a few boxes or bags and go through your stuff.
With all of your belongings, ask yourself this question: have you used it within the past year? If the answer is “no,” throw it in a bag to be donated (or thrown out, if it’s too ragged or useless). You don’t need it, and it’s likely causing you more stress than good.
4. Grab a buddy to help you
It’s easy to get attached to items that you don’t really need, and your best friend can help you. Your BFF knows that you are clearing the clutter in your life for your own good, so he or she will give you some tough love and throw out those items that you probably would have kept if you were doing this by yourself.
Plus, everything’s always more fun when you have a friend helping you!
Related: Benefits of Friendship
5. Start anew
Be honest: does your current method of organization need work? Perhaps you forget what exactly that method is in the first place (no judgment here). Take everything out of your storage spaces and start with a clean slate to give yourself inspiration.
For example, take out all of the food out of your kitchen cabinets, follow step two if need be, wipe the cabinets down, and then reorganize them by use, expiration date, or whatever makes the most sense to you. The great part here is that you can decide what works best for you—you are completely in control here.
6. Inform others
You might be intensely devoted to your conquest, but nothing will get done if your housemates or family leave their stuff everywhere and ruin all your hard work.
That being said, they can’t read your mind. Let them know what you’re doing, and tell them where they should put their belongings from now on. Ask them to follow your new method of organization so they don’t hinder, but rather help you free your home from clutter. They might even pitch in and help you reorganize.
7. Make it fun
This doesn’t have to be a painstakingly boring experience. You can make this exciting and fun. For example, blast your favorite music and dance along, or put on your favorite show in the background (just don’t stop to plop on the couch and watch!). Reward yourself after you finish a room. Buy yourself cute organizational tools to give yourself some more inspiration.
8. Figure out the main reasons why the clutter happened in the first place
Were you afraid to throw anything out, so it just piled up? Did you keep items out in the open, like bills or ripped sweaters, so you’d remember to attend to them later? Figure out the main reason why and a solution for next time.
For example, if the latter reason applied to you, write down to-do lists, or attend to the task immediately instead of procrastinating. After all, clearing clutter is great, but it will all be in vain if you let it happen again.
9. Stick to it
Remember your organization method, perhaps by writing little post-it notes of where everything goes. No matter what, make yourself put everything away where it goes. Putting everything in its place may take you a couple extra minutes, but it will save you stress and strife in the long run.
Clutter can be overwhelming, so much so that it can be tempting to just ignore the problem and let the clutter be. However, organizing your home and decluttering your life may relieve stress and help you focus.
By breaking the problem down, taking before and after pictures, tossing and donating stuff with a buddy, and informing others of your revamped organizational method, you can rid yourself of the clutter. Declutter your home, and you’ll feel the benefits. Just make sure to make it fun—and don’t let yourself fall into the clutter trap again!
Photo by eflon
Originally published 11/2013 and updated 11/2014.