Was one of your new year’s resolutions to de-clutter and get organized? I’ve been cleaning out the clutter in our house and it’s amazing how much better I feel when the clutter is gone! Plus, once the clutter is gone, then I can see how I want to organize or decorate a space. So, today’s Friday Five is all about clutter-busting and how to be clutter-free in 2017!
Clutter builds up for a lot of reasons, right? In our house, clutter builds up when I’m too busy to put things away, or we just have a lot going on. We just throw stuff on the dining room table or some other flat surface and think we’ll deal with it later, when there’s more time.
Of course, there’s never more time! The paper, the stuff to be returned to stores, laundry to put away, etc. etc. keeps on piling up until finally I hit my breaking point.
No more. I’m going to try to keep the clutter in check this year. So here are my tips for containing and stopping the clutter!
My tips for how to be clutter-free in 2017:
1. Don’t let piles pile up.
I’m a “pile person.” What I mean is: I tend to make piles of papers (or laundry or craft project materials), thinking I will deal with them at some later date. The problem is that I often just let the pile sit and I never deal with it. Exhibit A:
I would pile the mail here, as well as the kids’ school papers, my calendar, and who knows what else.
Same with my office. Here’s a picture of my desk:
I have learned that, instead of putting stuff in a pile to deal with later, I just need to deal with the stuff right then. As long as it only takes a few minutes to deal with, it’s better to just get it done than have it hanging around in a pile until Lord knows when!
If you do make piles, make them “action piles.” Put a sticky note on the pile or put the papers in a folder labeled with what needs to be done – that way, you have a plan for how to get rid of that pile ASAP! For example:
- Have one pile for “To Be Filed” papers (or, even better, just file them away now!).
- Have one pile for papers “To Shred” – if you don’t have a shredder, you can pay some big-box office stores to shred it for you, or wait for a free paper shredding event in your community (our city has one in the spring and one in the fall).
- Have one pile “To Recycle” and take the paper to the recycling bin once you’ve finished sorting.
- Have one pile “To Toss” and then chuck it in the garbage!
- Have a designated bag for items to be donated.
- Have a designated bag for items that need to be returned to the store or to another person.
2. Recycle before the paper comes inside the door.
I set up our paper recycling bins right outside our back door, where we come in from the mailbox and car.
When I get the mail, I sort through it before I ever set foot in the house and put anything unwanted in the recycling bin. That way, I don’t end up with a big pile of either unsorted or unwanted mail on the counter. It never clears the threshold.
If you don’t have a recycling bin outside for papers, just sort through the mail or school papers wherever your recycling bin is – office, kitchen, wherever!
3. Sort it out once it’s in.
I bought this organizer at Home Goods about five years ago. I added some stickers to label each pocket:
Now, when papers do come in the door, they go in the appropriate slot in the organizer. When my kids ask me where a certain school paper is, I ask, “Did you check the slot?”
4. Corral and contain.
Staying clutter-free means you have to have a system. So, in addition to the actions above, create files or containers that will keep you organized year-round.
For papers, a file cabinet or system doesn’t need to be expensive. I bought this file cabinet at a thrift store for about $7. I painted the outside gloss white and the front of the drawers with chalkboard paint.
I labeled each drawer with a chalk marker. Now it’s cute and functional!
If you leave fruit or bread or other stuff on the counter, corral it in a pretty mixing bowl or on a tray.
A clean, decluttered counter makes me happy!
Smaller items like buttons or clips can go in recycled jars:
The important thing is to have a system. Then, when you find a stray button or you have a pile of papers, you can put them in their place, rather than in a pile on a desk or countertop.
5. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.
This is a BIG thing for me. I love going to thrift stores and estate sales and finding bargains! But it’s only really a bargain if you know what you are going to do with what you are buying and not just socking it away for later.
For me, before I buy anything, I ask whether it is something I need. If it’s not, but I want it and can afford it, I ask whether it’s something I love and will use.
I hope this helps you to stay clutter-free in 2017! If you are thinking about de-cluttering, but can’t get started, think about what’s holding you back. For me, it was the idea that I wouldn’t have enough time. So, I broke it into smaller tasks and did one area or one room at a time. I also tend to get distracted, so smaller projects help me stay focused on what I need to do.
What about you? Is de-cluttering on your to-do list? How do you stay clutter-free?
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