How many of us have too much stuff? Did everyone raise their hand? I just did.
Clutter is something nearly all of us have to combat on a daily basis in order to prevent it from taking over our lives. I, for one, used to be an extremely organized person when I was younger. I think one reason was because my husband and I didn’t have the income to buy a lot of stuff.
However, time changes people and over the years I have relaxed my standards a little. Ok, some people who know me quite well would say more than a little. But in my defense, when you add many years of marriage, two kids, pets, two outside jobs for me (plus my husband also works another job in town), and a farm you have a recipe for tons of stuff.
To combat all of the stuff we have accumulated over the years I’ve been on a mission lately to try to get rid of what isn’t being used. In fact, my daughter and I have declared the first Saturday of the month as “Decluttering Day”.
This is how it works. Sometime during the month I take home a discarded paper box from work. As I get a few minutes here and there I go through drawers, cabinets and boxes. Once I clear out enough to fill the box I set it aside. On, or sometimes before, the first Saturday of the month I take the box to her house in town. We quickly go through it and post items to sell online and donate the rest to a local second hand store.
Obviously, the less stuff you have, the easier it is to stay organized. So, are there ways to cut clutter at home that can help?
1. Create a Home for Everything
In order to stay organized you have to put stuff away. But where is away? You need to establish a place where each item goes. For example, as a closet could be a home for your purse if you are a lady. Or, if you are a guy, perhaps a dresser drawer is the best place to keep your wallet when it’s not in your pocket. This is something I do with my “stuff”, but I struggle in other areas.
2. Put Items Away ASAP
The quicker you get stuff put away the better. As stated above, if the kids are putting all their school stuff on the counter you have no room to work when you are trying to cut up vegetables to create a meal. But if everyone plops their stuff down on the living room floor instead someone is liable to trip and you could end up with a hefty emergency room bill as a result. Putting stuff where it goes usually only takes seconds or a few minutes, but it’s well worth the extra time.
3. Make Drop Zones for All Family Members
Give each family member a place to put their keys, coats, backpacks etc. This way it doesn’t get dropped on the kitchen counter and get in the way when you are trying to cook supper. My husband and I salvaged some old barn wood and created a shelf with bins for gloves, sunglasses, etc. We then put hooks beneath it to hang coats and jackets. It’s handy because it’s right inside the back door where everyone comes in after school or work.
4. Place it Where it Makes Sense
Have you ever been invited to someone’s house for supper and been asked to set the table? I have, and it drives me crazy when I reach for what would logically be the silverware drawer only to find it is filled with kitchen towels instead. Who does this? In my kitchen the silverware is in the drawer nearest the kitchen table which kind of makes sense. The towels are closest to the sink and dishwasher. Put stuff where it makes sense because it saves time and effort.
5. Use the “Touch it Once” Rule
I will admit this is one organizational idea I sometimes struggle with. When I don’t know what to do with it or haven’t made a decision yet, I put it in a basket. I have a tower of baskets in the kitchen with one basket for each person’s stuff. It’s great for keeping clutter in one place – unless you never empty the basket. Then it overflows onto kitchen counters. I am a work on progress when it comes to adapting this organizational tactic.
6. Make Your Bed
When the bed is made it automatically makes the room appear less cluttered. I used to make my bed every day. It’s a little harder now because I get up before the birds to do work on my computer while it’s still dark and quiet in the house. My wake up time each morning is between 3 and 4 a.m. After my side-hustle work is completed I hurry to get ready for my other job in town where I have to be clocked in and ready to go a few minutes before 7 a.m. Did I mention we live in the country? I also have driving time. It all makes for a very busy morning and I don’t always get my bed made I must admit.
7. Create a “To Do” List
I make these for myself all of the time. I have found that when I get things added to my list I am more likely to get them done. The same thing happens with my groceries, household and grooming products: If I get them on the list they get purchased, but if I don’t, I forget to buy them when I am at the store. Since we live in the country I can’t just run a few blocks to the store each time I am out so it has to simply wait until I make it back the next time.
8. Utilize Small Increments of Time
I am getting a little better at using my time these days than in past years. Since I have so little time I can’t afford to waste it. When I only have a few minutes I try to organize one drawer or fold a batch or laundry. Sometimes I have to plan what I am doing around someone else and make sure it’s something I can leave unfinished if I get interrupted. For instance, if my husband is showering before we go to town for supper but I am already ready to go I might start emptying the dishwasher but finish the job after we get home later in the evening.
9. Declutter Regularly
Once again, due to lack of time, I tend to continually work on cutting clutter in my home. Sometimes it’s one drawer at a time, other times I work on an entire room. Right now I am focused on outside cleaning and decluttering to refresh the front and back patios of our home. At the same time I work on other areas on an as needed basis. But I continually work on cleaning out what isn’t getting used.
10. One in, One Out
This is a rule I use ruthlessly for my clothing. I tend to be a shoe hoarder. Also bracelets are an obsession I seem to collect too many of. To keep from owning an entire store’s worth of shoes to rival Imelda Marcos I use the one in, one out rule. When I buy a new pair of shoes it must fit into my shoe organizer in the closet (which is, unsurprisingly, currently full!). If it does not fit I either can’t buy the shoes or I must get rid of a different pair. This helps me not only cut clutter but saves me money too.
If you find you are being overtaken by clutter, use some of the tactics I do to keep your home from looking like a hoarder’s paradise. You may find you not only keep clutter at bay, but save money and time in the process.
What are some of the clutter-cutting strategies you use to stay organized?