At one point or another, most people find themselves faced with an unorganized, cluttered home, and feel overwhelmed by the idea of tackling the clutter. While those who are organizationally challenged may suffer the most, even organization gurus sometimes find their home in a state of chaos. Whether your home is only minimally cluttered, or clutter has taken over completely, making order of the chaos will make you feel better and make your home look better, too. It takes a bit of effort, but you can declutter your home if you create a plan and stick to it.
When you’ve made the commitment to declutter your home, you should first identify the cause of your mess. Identify the primary sources of clutter and what is bothering you the most. Clutter is not instant, but rather builds up over time. To eliminate clutter, you have to eliminate the source. For example, are you a collector of knick-knacks of some variety or another and now they dominate every available shelf, bookcase, and countertop in your home? Or perhaps you have an inefficient filing system, and paper clutter has taken over your home office space, kitchen, and dining room table as well. Identify your biggest source of clutter and begin there.
Rather than attempt to declutter your entire home at once, start with one room. It makes sense to begin with the room with the least organized appearance. Create an organizational system for the type of clutter each room has and then utilize it. For instance, to declutter paper messes, create a filing system. Incoming papers and mail and should have their own box or file folder in an area that is fairly accessible. Once you’ve dealt with the paperwork, throw away or recycle the papers that are unimportant and file the ones that should be kept. Create a filing system either from a file box or a file cabinet for papers such as tax returns, children’s report cards, warranty papers, etc. and continue the in/out/file system accordingly once each week.
To declutter a room that is overrun by objects, whether kick-knacks, toys, or other items, first decide which objects are important enough to keep. Clutter can only be contained if you minimize. A rule of thumb to live by is to get rid of anything that hasn’t been played with, looked at, worn, or used in the last six months to one year. Throw away broken or useless items and donate the rest to charity. Take what is left and find an organization system that works for your home. One excellent suggestion is to store the items in clear, plastic storage bins so that the items can easily be identified, but are kept in a central location. However, other items, such as baskets and shelves, also make good systems. Check out your local home improvement store for organizational tools.
Once you have begun to declutter one room, you will most likely begin to fall into a pattern of organization that makes sense for you. If you have made several attempts at organization and have failed to achieve your goal, consider hiring a professional organizer. In some cases, it may be easier to have an unbiased and experienced person help you tackle the chore. Hire a member of the Association of Professional Organizers to ensure the highest level of professionalism and service. If you can’t afford a professional, research books and websites that offer home organization tips and search for ones that you can implement.