The Practical Guide to Painlessly Declutter Your Home

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Your home is the heart of family activity. Family time is important, but daily life and gatherings often create a lot of clutter. Eventually, the disorder will get out of hand. Unless you have a plan in place, a major cleanup can cause stress and lead to procrastination. Learn how to painlessly declutter and bring new energy to your home and your life.  

Many methods of organizing involve using baskets, labels, and storage containers, but the bottom line is that to reduce clutter, you must have fewer possessions. The key to taking full advantage of this system is to downsize and purge excess belongings. In each room, commit to using an objective eye when determining whether an item stays or goes.

Every item should serve a meaningful role and be used on a regular basis. Clothes that no longer fit, toys no longer played with, or that exercise bike that’s being used as a clothes rack should be sold or donated. Ask yourself whether you truly need those trinkets you bought on sale or the gifts that still haven't been used. The same holds true for duplicate items that you have on hand "just in case."

Use labeled boxes for collecting items that will be donated, stored, or discarded. Move clockwise around the room as you work. For extra incentive, set a timer for short intervals and challenge yourself to work quickly. You might be amazed by your progress. When you are done with a room, allow a day or two, but no longer, to reconsider the items you are removing.

Make Every Room Clutter-Free

Are your closets filled with clothes you seldom (if ever) wear? Separate the clothes you regularly wear from the rest, and make an agreement to reduce clothing that is not worn in a few months' time. Try reversing the direction of the clothes hanger after you have worn an item to have a clear visual of your worn and unworn clothing.

The kitchen is often inundated with dishes, appliances, and the latest cooking gadgets. Pare down items to only those that are needed and used. This is particularly true of drawers stuffed with utensils. Clear the cabinets of chipped dishes, and empty drawers that are only used for junk.

The bathroom is a magnet for cabinets and drawers overflowing with partially used bath and personal care products. Some products degrade over time and cause outbreaks on sensitive skin. Even worse, some can become contaminated and unsafe to use. Be discriminating in what you keep and discard.

Bring the kids into the process and help them decide what to keep. Gather all the toys, books, games, and artwork. Point out the boundaries of the room and give them the power to choose what stays. Most kids are happy to part with items they haven't played with in ages and to rediscover a book or game that's been hidden under the jumble.

It's easy for mail to build up with a vengeance if it’s not managed every day. For easy sorting, have two containers, one for important correspondence and the other for disposal.

Some items, like memories, are hard to part with. Photos and gifts tend to accumulate over time, and some hold more sentiment than others. Surround your home with the best mementos that recall positive memories. Items that you choose not to throw away or put into storage can be sold, donated, or given away.

Owning too much stuff creates an atmosphere of disorder, not only in your home but also in everyday living. Eliminating this visual disorder will result in less anxiety and more time and energy to enjoy what matters.