Time to declutter!
Clutter is silent! It’s wily! It creeps about in corners and slowly onto every available space in your home…
Are you a clutter junkie? Has clutter taken over your home? Is your house one big mess where you waste time every day, looking for your keys, important papers, scissors…in short, practically any and every thing!
Don’t lose hope. This article is for the clutter-afflicted.
Start slow and steady: Just as it took time to accumulate all that stuff, it is going to take time to get rid of it! What’s tougher is keeping your house decluttered after that. Old habits die hard!
Get everyone involved: You will need to get your family to help you in this effort. For example, if everyone in your family dumps their books and bags on the living room divan, clearing it away today is not going to make the problem go away tomorrow.
Identify the source of clutter: In family settings, clutter mounts up for countless reasons. Some examples:
- Adults cast off newspapers, mail, bank statements and bills carelessly.
- Children litter with toys, schoolbooks, shoes and general untidiness.
- Poor housekeeping routines and procrastination see clutter building up as clean clothes pile up on a bed, paper work gets stacked up in some corner, mail is opened and never sorted out, the kitchen is laden with unnecessary articles and cupboards are spilling out with clothes, clothes and more clothes!
Organize the home: It sounds so simple, but the fact is that the mess builds up because we start with good intentions but, slowly, as we neglect that routine, the clutter starts piling up! Here are some tips:
- Newspapers could be folded and kept on a coffee table before being read, then moved the very same day to an assigned place till they are recycled.
- Specific locations should be assigned for keys, shoes, purses, school bags and briefcases. All paperwork – bills, credit card statements, medical papers (prescriptions, tests results, etc) – should be filed and kept away so you know where they are when you need them.
- Junk mail should be torn up and assigned to the dustbin immediately. Clear the kitchen of all unwanted and old vessels.
Establish clutter areas: The reality is that there is no such thing as clutter-free living! At some point in time, we all want to come home and just toss our stuff somewhere without having to neatly fold it or arrange it. By fixing an area for clutter, we still have a neat home, but the clutter remains within boundaries.
- Maybe an old chair in the bedroom could serve as a holder for tossed clothing.
- Assign a drawer for all that stuff one collects but never uses – recipes snipped from magazines, discount coupons, exciting offers, invitations etc. Remember to periodically clean the drawer though!
- Give kids a large basin to store their toys and insist that the basin goes out of sight every night.
- Get a magazine rack to collect magazines and catalogues.
Develop good habits: To tackle the clutter menace, one needs to start changing one’s habits. Routines need to be established for everyone in the family. These habits may take time to form, especially when the whole family is involved. But once they kick in, they save you so much time.
- Start with allocating a specific place for keys. Hang them there as soon as you return home.
- Shoes and slippers should have an assigned place, and all family members should remove and place them there so that the unsightly vision of shoes strewn around the house is banished (hopefully) forever.
- Assign a place for purses, bags and briefcases.
- Sort out mail immediately – assign junk mail to the bin then and there, and file the pertinent stuff right away. No more hoarding: We all have clothes, knick-knacks, bric-a-brac, books and pots and pans that we do not need and do not use. However, if one has the tendency to hoard, these items lie around and collect dust and occupy space. When you take up the battle against clutter, sift through all your belongings – it does not have to be done in one day – and keep aside all the items that you do not require. Give them away to charity, friends, household help or recycle them.
Keep sentimentalism in check: Souvenirs, faded torn photographs, old withered notebooks, children’s old clothes and report cards, collections of greeting cards and post cards…the list is endless. All of us tend to have this sentimental streak of collecting and keeping stuff like this. But be honest with yourself. How often do you look through all these? The answer will probably be never. Sort it out your mementos, keep the best, arrange all the good stuff in scrapbooks and throw away the rest.
Borrow or rent: Try and cut down on buying things that could be borrowed or rented. This itself will go a long way in reducing clutter. Borrow books, magazines and DVDs from libraries and only buy books or DVDs that hold special significance to you – ones that you will enjoy over the years and not delegate to a dusty shelf.
Plan some time daily for decluttering: It could be as little as fifteen minutes. This way, your house will stay free of clutter, which will act as an added incentive for you to continue on your mission of a clutter-free home. The rewards – a sparkling home and no mad hunts for lost stuff!