Clutter is one of those things that seems to appear out of nowhere.
It starts small, with just a few odds and ends that you either forgot about or didn’t have a place for. But then it seems to be contagious, spreading throughout your home before you realize it took over.
By the time you’re ready to do something about the clutter in your home, it’s almost overwhelming.
But it doesn’t have to be!
It’s possible to get a firm grip on your home, turn it into an organized place to live, and even — dare we say — eliminate clutter for good!
1. Start With Getting Rid of the Trash
It’s no one’s favorite job, but you can’t get to the meat of the project without tossing out the junk first. Grab a big trash bag, start with one room at a time, and focus on chucking out the garbage.
Garbage isn’t just the leftover wrappers from your fast food runs, either. It includes magazines and junk mail that need to be recycled, as well as items that you see lying around that take up space, but you don’t want or need.
As you are tossing trash, get a general feel for your main source of clutter.
Keep the common offenders in mind for your next step of clutter-purging.
2. Reduce Your “Stuff”
As you went out around purposefully looking for trash, now repeat the cycle but look for items you don’t use.
Donate, trash, or sell things that are just sitting around, including old movies, knick-nacks without a purpose, and other clutter.
If you’re not sure how to reduce or you’re torn between keeping and discarding certain items, run through these three “keep” criteria to help you decide:
1. Do you have one already?
Get rid of duplicates.
2. Does it make you happy?
3. Have you used it within the last year?
Donate, sell, or toss items that don’t serve a purpose for you.
3. Sift Through Your Documents
Junk mail tends to pile up. So do bills, credit card statements, and other unnecessary papers.
Grab a tote, load up all of your documents and junk mail, and take a few minutes to sort through them.
Create a system to keep your papers under control in real-time. Not everything has to be kept. If you know the rules for record-keeping, like how long you are required to keep your taxes on file, you can limit the paperwork you have.
Invest in a scanner and a backup system for your computer. It’s a smart, efficient way to eliminate paper clutter and prevent fire hazards at the same time. Simply scan any documents that don’t require the original on hand and shred the paper copy.
4. Consider Your Collections Carefully
Collections tend to take over a home. An innocent hobby can become an out-of-control clutter minefield. Friends and relatives add to your collection with well-meaning gifts. But these intentions, however good, are not helping you keep your home organized.
You have to nip it in the bud with your gift-givers. Let them know you don’t have room for any more knick-nacks. Then give away or store all but the absolute favorites of your collections.
5. Organize the Main Essentials
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably noticed that most of your clutter can be boiled down into four categories:
- Books and movies
- Office materials
- Wires and cords
- Kitchen stuff
- Random odds and ends
Take your clutter one category at a time and attack it with the sole purpose of creating an organizational system that works.
Books and Movies
Office materials may require extra drawers and organizers to get your desk in shape. Handy, all-purpose organizers with multiple compartments prevent junk from piling up on your desk and spilling over to the rest of your house.
The more electronics you have, the more chargers, plugs, and cords you need to organize. Some furniture comes built-in with openings for your wires to slide into and hide neatly, but most of our cords are out in the open and tangled.
Get your cords under control with wire management systems. By organizing your cables, they’ll last longer. More importantly, though, they’ll be less of a fire hazard.
Cupboard storage is frequently limited, so you have to make the most of what you have. Go through your dishes, pots, and pans, and get rid of any duplicates that you own. You probably don’t need two of the same frying pans unless you do a lot of cooking.
Random Odds and Ends
Leftover items like remote controls, sunglasses, mail, and anything else that you haven’t found a home for yet needs a system, too.
Over-the-couch or by the bed organizers are excellent for these little items or grab a tote to be a catch-all.
6. Shop for Your Space
Buying in bulk is touted as financially smart, but not if you aren’t going to use the product.
Now that you’re organized, you want to stay that way.
Small apartments have limited storage room. When you’re shopping, think about where you are going to put what you purchased and only buy what you know you can store.
With that same thought in mind, just say no to freebies and “must-have” sales. It may sound like a great deal, but if you don’t have room for it, you’re probably going to throw it away anyway.
7. Go Digital Where You Can
With so many digital options, there’s really no need for physical items cluttering up your apartment.
Change your CDs to iTunes or another music app. Switch to digital movies and books, saving room and money.
If you have a lot of pictures and memorabilia taking up space, take pictures of the mementos and scan your photos. You can then turn your scans into digital photo albums through companies like Mixbook and Shutterfly.
8. If you buy something, donate something
You see this philosophy of spending during the holidays, but it’s actually a great one to have the whole year ‘round.
Get into the habit of donating something every time you buy a non-food item. You’ll limit clutter and unnecessary purchases.
When you have to consider what you’re going to give away every time you buy a non-food item, it’s a quick and easy way to save money and reduce impulse buying.
9. Put Your Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Just like when you put limits on what you allow in your hobby collecting, put your focus on choosing quality for your home.
You’ll have to think a little harder before making the purchase, and higher-quality items tend to last longer. This extra upfront expense will end up saving you money and room.
On the other hand, though, quality doesn’t always mean you need to buy anything. It can mean that you opt for making memories over pricey, unnecessary gifts.
Footloose and Clutter-Free
Organizing your home and eliminating clutter gives you a sense of peace and relaxation you didn’t have before.
With your new clutter-free lifestyle, you’ll be able to find lots of ways to improve your quality time!
Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over 10 years of experience in the student housing industry and works with Sakara on a daily basis to grow their online presence.