Right now is the perfect time for a fresh start. Wouldn’t you love to have a neat, clean and organized home? One in which you can always find what you need, without wasting time looking through what you don’t? Rooms that are organized and free of clutter not only look better, they feel better, too. Studies have shown that excessive clutter can create or worsen feelings of stress and anxiety, and even make it difficult to get the quality sleep that’s so important for maintaining good health. If you’re not sure how or where to start getting your home organized, these tips will help.
Make it Manageable — If you’ve undertaken organizing projects before, only to quit before you achieve the results you want, chances are you’ve taken on too much at once. Decluttering and organizing is best done one room, or even one area of one room at a time. To stay motivated, set aside time each day to work on a specific area of your home, rather than doing a little bit here and a little bit there. It will be easier to focus, and as you begin to see progress, you’ll be even more excited to continue.
Sort and Purge — Remember the old saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place?” That’s impossible to achieve when all your storage space is already filled with stuff. You’ll never be able to get organized if you don’t go through what you have and start getting rid of things you no longer need, use or enjoy. The easiest way to do this is to get three boxes, baskets or bins and label them “Keep,” “Donate/Sell” and “Toss.” Everything you touch needs to go in one of the categories (and they can’t all be “keep”). Set a time limit and move quickly; don’t give yourself time to ponder or reminisce. Make quick decisions and stick to them. Once you’ve cleared space, it will be much easier to assign a place to everything.
Get Off the Paper Trail — Nothing accumulates faster or looks messier than stacks of excess paper. Unopened mail, magazines, catalogs and even books are some of the toughest opponents in the war against clutter. To get it under control, start by going through what you have. Open all unopened mail, recycle outdated magazines, and find a place for books that you want to keep; donate the ones you don’t. Once you have things in order, take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Sign up to receive all your monthly bills and statements electronically, opt out of pre-screened credit and insurance offers and switch to digital versions of your favorite magazines and books. Rather than letting mail pile up, take a few minutes to sort through it daily.
Embrace the One In, One Out Rule — Once you’ve purged and organized, you’re going to want to keep things under control. A great way to do that is to practice the “one in, one out” rule. That simply means that every time you bring home something new in a particular category, you need to get rid of something you already have in the same category. For example, if you get a new pair of shoes, an existing pair of shoes has to go. Getting in the habit of doing this will help keep clutter under control. And in time, it might actually help you save money, too. At first, it will likely be easy, because you’re in the mood to get rid of things anyway. But once you reach a certain point, you’ll have to think twice about what you’re willing to give up to bring in something new, and you’ll have a harder time letting go of things you use and enjoy regularly.
Get Creative with Storage Solutions and Space — Start looking at your space differently. Closets, drawers and cabinets aren’t the only places to store things. Consider the usually unused spaces behind doors, under beds and in corners. Look for places to use hanging baskets, over-the-door shoe racks, or a series of hooks. Hang shelves and use them to group potential clutter, such as perfume bottles or framed photos, into decorative accents instead. Once you free your mind and look at your space with fresh eyes, you’ll see plenty of possibilities you didn’t realize existed.
Don’t let the sheer magnitude of organizing your home keep you from getting started. Remember to focus on one area at a time and celebrate your small successes as you go. Once you achieve a state of clutter-free organization, you’ll be glad you took the time and made the effort.