Keeping our lives and homes organized is truly a never-ending challenge—but there are ways to make the task slightly less daunting. In addition to providing a sense of calm, an uncluttered space lets your home’s interesting design features shine and architectural elements breathe. Here, we spotlight five tips to maintain a tidy home (and a peaceful mind) from leading authors and organization gurus.
UNDERSTAND WHAT NOT TO DO - Before you get into the groove, take a moment to review some common clean-out missteps so that you don’t make them. Nicole Anzia, Washington DC’s de-cluttering pro and founder of clean-up service of Neatnik, outlines a few frequent offenses. Organize First; Buy Second: Don’t buy all those bins and boxes until you actually know what you need. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew: Limit yourself to just a few hours of organizing per day to start (more than 3 hours can be exhausting, go slow). Complete Each Task—Completely: “Once you have decided where something is going to go — take it there,” writes Nicole. “Never keep bags for charity or boxes for friends in your home to deliver later. Do it now. Finish the process.” Good Enough is Enough: “Very few people have closets and drawers that resemble those in catalogues. Trust me,” writes Nicole. “You will ultimately be disappointed if perfection is your goal. The goal is to set up a space that works well for your needs. That is success.”
GO ROOM BY ROOM - The organizing gurus at home and decor site The Spruce recommend tackling clutter in stages. Focus on one room, one space, or even one zone within a room (like kitchen cabinets or a bookcase in the living room) at a time. Fully finish the job before moving on to the next space.
CLEAN YOUR CLOSET THE SMART WAY - Most people wear just 20% of what they own. To deduce what items you aren’t wearing much anymore, try turning all the clothes hangers in your closet to face back-to-front. Then, for the next six months, if you wear an item of clothing, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct way. At the end of this trial, your most frequently worn items will be clear. Seriously consider getting rid of apparel that has not come into rotation over the last six months.
TAKE THE 12-12-12 CHALLENGE - Author, speaker and Becoming Minimalist site founder Joshua Becker uses this method to kickstart the clean-up process—simply locate 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home. “This can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house,” Becker writes. “On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my wife and me…and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.”
FOUR BOX METHOD - For every room, prepare four sizable boxes. The Keep/Put Away Box: This box should be the smallest. Items here are used on a daily or weekly basis and just need to be put away in their proper spot. The Donate/Sell Box: This box will be filled with valuable items that you no longer use. It’s tempting to want to donate everything you don’t need, regardless of its condition. The Toss Box: Pretty self-explanatory. But do consider whether or not the item can or should be donated before adding it to this box—objects that end up here should be in very poor condition and will be tossed or recycled. The Storage Box: Ideally, this box should include any items you will not part with but don’t need on a regular basis—it could include seasonal decor.