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How to Quickly Clear that Clutter from Your Life

Clear that Clutter

I’ve lived a clutter-free life for as long as I can remember. That is, until recently. The pandemic hit and it didn’t spare the likings of my well-groomed home. In an instant, like a volcano, an uncontrollable frenzy of clutter flooded every surface in sight. Unruly took over everywhere I turned. My family was practicing their new normal. I wanted to click my barefoot heels and go home. Not this home. The home where piles, files, laundry, cups, brown bags, plastic bags… a convulsion of stuff didn’t attack every nook and corner. I wanted a home where I felt balanced again.

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When Clutter Takes You Hostage

There are many different reasons why clutter takes our homes hostage – for me it was the unexpected new normal of a global pandemic. But for most people clutter accumulates over time until it feels like the chaos may never end. Although there are plenty of tips to deal with clutter, they don’t always work for you, your situation or your family. The problem lies in the special relationship we tend to form with our clutter which eventually becomes both physical and emotional baggage. As all the stuff becomes more familiar and comfortable, it gets harder to know where to even begin. The clutter overwhelm is real. But it’s time for you (and me) to clear that clutter from your life!

Clear that Clutter

Recommended Reading: Lost Luggage & How to Make Peace with Your Past in 2020

How to Clear That Clutter

Making a dent in our belongings can feel like a never-ending task that’s easier just to put off. But it’s not worth it – it will just keep piling up. Rather use this extra time at home to unclutter. You’ll soon realize that life with less stuff is much better than life with too much stuff. Once you start, it will become easier and the more things you remove from your life the more unburdened you’ll feel. These tips will help you to quickly clear that clutter from your life:

The Goal is to Start

Make de-cluttering a habit by adding it to your daily routine. You can do this by learning to regularly toss, recycle or donate things that you no longer need, want or use. Five minutes a day is all you need. That’s so much easier than 35 minutes weekly. It’s almost seamless.

Start Small

Focus on one area or room at a time. Choose the space that bothers you the most and just start. It could even just be your junk drawer. The goal is simply to start. Besides, breaking your de-cluttering task up into smaller chunks makes it more manageable and less overwhelming.

Recommended Reading: How to Make a Junk Drawer Your Happy Place

Hello Family

Chances are the clutter around you is not just yours. Your family members or roommates likely contribute to the chaos and add to the mess. In that case, I recommend making de-cluttering a group activity. When you tackle the problem together, you can get through it faster. Start with a common room used by everyone and make each person responsible for organizing a section of that room. There’s no time like the present to do this – everyone is together at home and have plenty of free time at the moment.

In and Out

This is a useful rule to consider when you are trying to minimize or de-clutter. Every time you bring a new item into the house, take at least one (or more) items out of the house.I do this all the time.

A Home of its Own

The best way to maintain order after you have de-cluttered is to set up systems to make your life easier. Do this by designating specific places for frequently used items. You can then store any infrequently used items in easy to access see-through plastic containers or labeled bins and basketsI get mine all from Dollar Tree because it’s so affordable.

The Paper Challenge

Paper can quickly and easily become a disorganized heap, so it is best to sort through papers as soon as possible. Make time regularly to go through your accumulated paper. Recycle unneeded paper and file needed paper or important documents.

Questions to Ask While De-Cluttering

Being organized doesn’t come naturally to most people, and it takes quite a bit of effort to clear that clutter. So, when it comes to deciding what to get rid of and what to keep, try asking yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time you used the item? If you can’t remember then it’s time to throw it out.
  • Will you need the item in the future? Be honest with yourself, certain things are best left in the past.
  • Are you keeping the items just in case you need it? Things that you keep just in case are unlikely to be used so you’d be better off buying it again if you really do need it.
  • Do you feel guilty about spending money on this item in the first place? Keeping it because of guilt won’t help you get your money back – give or sell it to someone who needs it.
  • Are you sentimentally attached to the item? Keeping certain things for sentimental reasons is fine but don’t allow yourself to get attached to everything you have.

Truthfully answering these questions will help you get clear on stuff you need and stuff you definitely don’t need.

Why Does it Feel Like You Just Can’t Clear That Clutter?

So, you have organizational systems in place and have made tidying up a routine, but for some reason you still have clutter. There are a few things that could be causing this. Simple things that are easy to overlook and cause clutter even after you’ve cleaned. Trust me, as a Professional Organizer I have seen it all and can help you pinpoint the cause. Do any of these 9 reasons strike a chord?

  1. Everything in your house could be clean and tidy, but unraveling cables under tables or desks can just look unsightly. Tie the cords and cables together with cable ties or use cable covers to keep the space under your furniture looking neat.
  2. You have new (or old) mail lying around that you need to open and file or other papers waiting to be read. As I said above, papers can easily become a problem – make some time to open your mail and file or toss your papers.
  3. The refrigerator door is overflowing with last year’s holiday cards, photos, baby announcements, address changes, school notes, invitations, recipes, emergency info, and so on. This leaves your kitchen looking cluttered even when the rest of the space is spotless, so keep track of what you hang on the fridge.
  4. Kitchen counter appliance envy leaves your kitchen feeling overcrowded and little counter space for you to work on. This takes the fun out of cooking or spending time in your kitchen. Rather store your infrequently used appliances in cupboards or shelves until needed and keep counter space for appliances you use regularly which fit with your kitchen aesthetic like these from KitchenAid.
  5. Knick knack paddy whack. Shelves crowded with souvenirs, trinkets, ornaments, and collections can quickly look disorganized and add a sense of clutter. Try to minimize the number of items you have on display by using functional shelving.
  6. Baskets, bins, and hangers that are mismatched and don’t coordinate. Having things that don’t match or clash in a room makes it look disorganized and cluttered; leaving you with a sense that something just isn’t right.
  7. The linen closet is stuffed to the brim (possibly spilling out or pushing the door open) because it is full of towels and sheets that are alike but all folded in different ways and widths.
  8. Your bathroom looks messy because of make-up and toiletry overload. (The cosmetic companies know where to find you.)
  9. You have no specified place for all your accumulated pet stuff. As in toys, treats, doggy bags, leashes, bones and everything else which is spread throughout the house or ‘stored’ in various different places.
Clear that Clutter

Fascinating Facts about Clutter

If you’re still not motivated to get up and clear that clutter from your home and life, then these startling statistics may just give you the nudge you need. Read through these fascinating facts about clutter to inspire you to clear it from your life:

  • The average American household has about 300,000 items, from tiny to huge things – definitely more than can be used in a lifetime.
  • Most people don’t look at about 80% of the paper and other information they feel they need to keep.
  • 25% of Americans with two-car garage homes only have enough space to park one car in it.
  • On average people only use about 20% of the items they own on a regular basis.
  • Getting rid of clutter will reduce time spent on cleaning and housework by about 40%.
  • According to a study by the Soap and Detergent Association it is disorganization instead of a lack of space that causes 80% of clutter.
  • The most commonly misplaced items in any home are keys, phones, glasses or sunglasses and paperwork.

Although it won’t feel like it when you start, the process of de-cluttering is and should be simple. Decide what you want to keep and discard what you don’t. However, I know this is tough for many people. Understand that de-cluttering is not just about cleaning up but about becoming better at making decisions. It is your choice how you live but ultimately it feels really good to create a space free of clutter that is pleasant to live in.

Are you clearing clutter from your life at the moment?

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Comments 10

  1. Ronni, you are so right. 5 minutes a day clearing clutter – particularly from the common rooms – can keep most homes fairly tidy. And, paper is an ever-present problem. If you don’t deal with it, it multiplies like bunnies!

    1. Paper is the worst! I find that if I stop and clear out the clutter right then and there, rather than having to remember to go back, it gets done and I’m free again!

  2. Your discussion of souvenirs is ringing so true to me today, Ronni. I know someone who experiences a major flood (pipes froze in the walls). She experienced a tremendous loss. Most belongings had to be pitched. The surprising discovery was how much she liked the space once it was renovated. She thought she would miss so many little belongings and she found she didn’t nearly as much as she had feared. Instead, she loved her new, clear space, lighter color scheme and breathing room. Not everything we accumulate warrants a permanent place on our shelf, right?

    1. Oh yes! Sometimes an item’s shelf life is over. I recall many years ago, when we were renovating our home, a realization. We worked on half and lived in the other half. Everything had been cleared out from the the working side and stored during the duration of the renovation. I remembered thinking that I was just as happy with half the space and I didn’t miss and could hardly remember what was left in storage. That was an eye-opener.

  3. My house is pretty organized and it stays that way since we are now empty nesters. It gets cluttered around the holidays, because my sons come home and we have people over to celebrate, so that all adds to the chaos. That’s the means of the holidays though. The benefit of being organized for me is that after once the celebrating clams down it’s pretty easy to re-organizer my home once more.

    1. You have great systems in place which is why you can get back on track quickly, even after the holidays. That’s the beauty of organization.

  4. That “just start” can be the tricky part. When getting started is the crux of the problem, enlisting support from an organizing buddy (friend, family member, or professional organizer) can be invaluable. There are numerous reasons why we postpone dealing with the clutter. When it accumulates to an abundant amount, it can feel overwhelming to begin.

    I love your idea of starting somewhere, anywhere. And for planning on short, regular decluttering spurts.

    1. I found that when everything else fails, sometimes just starting, anywhere, will get you going. Once going, chances are you won’t stop.
      What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else. I’ve seen that over and over.

    1. Here’s what I tell my clients and something I live by. If 30 minutes is too long, then try 15. If 15 minutes is too long try 5. If you were fine with five minutes, next time will you try 10?
      I found this to be helpful and my client is the one making the decision.

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