cleaning just isn’t what it used to be. A more accurate term might be
“spring clearing,” since uncluttering is often what needs to be done
But whether you live in a
tiny condo or a spacious house, clearing out clutter isn’t just a
springtime ritual. A clutter-free home requires an ongoing commitment to
Here are 10 key ways you can
get — and keep — your household organized and uncluttered.
1. Take time to make
time. Daily, make it a part of
your routine to schedule brief blocks of time for processing household
paperwork (including bill-paying, correspondence and filing) and putting
things in order. Weekly (or more often), sit down with your calendar or
time management system and your “to do” lists and allocate time for
the home projects you want to accomplish over the next week.
2. Set up a work space.
Choose an area that’s comfortable for working on ongoing projects and
paperwork maintenance. If your space is very limited, you can create a
portable home office setup with a lap desk and a Rubbermaid file box. They
can be used in conjunction with the kitchen or dining-room table, which in
many homes are the most popular places to do paperwork.
3. Make it easy.
Put frequently used items in convenient places. Instead of storing
supplies only where they fit best, locate them close to where they are
used most often. Get rid of things that don’t work well and replace them
with products that are easy to maintain and a pleasure to use. Set up a
simple paper-flow system to give you an easy place for temporary storage
of active papers. To help discourage messes, make it easy to discard
things quickly. Keep at least one wastebasket handy in every room.
4. Practice making
decisions. Exercise your
decision-making muscles as often as possible instead of putting off making
a decision “til later.” Here are two examples: When you remove an
article of clothing, decide to put it where it belongs instead of leaving
it somewhere else. Whenever you pick up a piece of paper, decide how
you’re going to deal with it while it’s in your hand instead of
putting it in a pile.
5. Establish an “In-Out
Inventory Rule.” For each item
that comes into your home (such as books, videos, CDs/DVDs, clothing),
another item of equal type should go out (to charity or resale). If you
can get in the habit of following this maintenance rule for even one of
your “clutter categories,” your stuff will be less likely to reach the
stage of critical mass (or critical mess, as the case may be).
6. Let go of clutter
daily. Each day, make a conscious
effort to let go of at least one unit of clutter. The “unit” can be
one item or one container-full. As long as you do it consistently,
you’ll see results. Remind yourself that the more stuff you choose to
let go of, the less time you’ll need to spend maintaining it.
7. Fuel motivation with
visible results. Motivate
yourself to get rid of clutter by creating noticeable results quickly:
Begin by decluttering the easiest and most visible cluttered area or
segment. Seeing a positive change is energizing and can make you want to
8. Keep the best, let go
of the rest. Clothing and
accessories become easier to part with when you apply this rule: Only keep
items that make you look good AND feel good. So if it looks good but makes
you feel uncomfortable, get rid of it; if it’s comfortable but makes you
look bad, let it go.
9. Keep the positive, let
go of the negative. If your
clutter includes sentimental objects, here’s a rule to remember: Let go
of anything that doesn’t touch you in a positive or poignant way.
Don’t keep anything that makes you feel stressed or upset (unless
you’re legally required to keep it).
10. Turn “can’t”
into “can.” The most
important piece of clutter to let go of is the apostrophe and t on the end
of the word can’t. When you catch yourself saying, “I can’t get rid
of — ” change it to “I can!”
is founder of The Miracle Worker Organizing Service and author of three
books, including “Let Go of Clutter.” Her online advice column is at www.MiracleOrganizing.com.