Post written by Zen Family Habits contributor Mandi from Organizing Your Way.
I could probably write a post every day of the year on how to control clutter in this area or that space, and we still wouldn’t be able to cover every scenario or trouble spot. Instead of trying to cover them all, I want to share with you four secrets for battling clutter in any space:
The first step to conquering clutter in any room of your house is to declutter the space. Having too much stuff inevitably leads to clutter, and it will undercut your best efforts at clearing surfaces and getting organized. This is a hard step to take, but it’s important to take an honest look at the stuff around you and begin to get rid of clutter.
You’ve probably heard this method before, but the easiest way to get started is to take three bags, bins or boxes and label them Keep, Give Away and Trash. Sorting through the clutter will involve some tough decisions, but keep your final goal in mind, knowing that the less stuff you have, the easier it will be to keep surfaces and spaces clutter free.
Here are some additional resources to help you make those decisions:
- Declutter Your Way to a Happy Home
- 10 Questions to Help You Declutter
- Decluttering 101
- 101 Physical Things That Can Be Reduced In Your Home
Once you have decluttered the space, begin to identify the clutter. Are there stacks of paper waiting for you to take action on them? Are there toys and games that don’t have a home in a certain room even though that’s where they often get played with? Piles of laundry waiting to be taken to the laundry room?
Identifying the types of clutter that you battle on a regular basis is an important step to being able to control it. Once you identify what it is, where it comes from and where it eventually ends up, you’re in a much better place to control it.
Ask any organized person, and chances are they’ll tell you how much they love two things: containers and labels. Using containers to group like items is a simple and effective way to control clutter because it keeps things from getting spread out all over the place.
Aby from Simplify 101 recently shared another tip with me related to containers as well. She recommends that her clients use open top containers wherever possible because you’re much more likely to actually use them if you can just toss things in rather than having to pull containers out, open them, put things away and then put the box away. Of course, for things you use less often, a closed container works as well.
Next, be sure to label your containers so that you can find the things you’ve organized. While I love my handy Brother labeler, there are a ton of labeling options depending on your needs, including:
- a roll of masking tape and a marker
- preprinted labels like those made by Mabel’s Labels
- chalk labels
- crafty labels that you can make or buy from Etsy
Touch It Once
Finally, once you’ve gotten the clutter cleaned up, it’s important to have a plan in place to keep the area clutter free. One way to do this is with the touch-it-once rule. Most clutter forms when we set something down because we don’t know what to do with it or don’t feel like dealing with it at that moment.
Instead of falling into this trap, commit to taking each item to its home right away. When you get the urge to set something down and deal with it later, think through what obstacles are in the way of putting it away right away.
- Does it have a home, or do you need to create a home for it?
- Is it something you need to access later, so you need a temporary spot for it?
- Are you setting it down to remind yourself of something later?
- Is it hard to put away?
Create temporary zones — such as an inbox for mail, bills and other important paperwork – for the items you need to hold onto as a reminder, and reorganize trouble spots so that it’s easy to get and put away the items you use most often.
Clutter contributes to stress, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, and while the idea of tackling the clutter can be overwhelming as well, the benefits are well worth the effort!