For many Americans, clutter is a serious emotional and financial burden. Storage is now a $154 billion industry, and 1 in 11 people spend more than $1000 per year renting self-storage for their excess belongings. In the home, clutter has been linked to higher rates of anxiety, poor sleep quality, and reduced productivity. Clutter is also a health concern, in part because it makes regular cleaning so difficult: According to research conducted by the National Soap and Detergent Association, the average American spends 40% of their total cleaning time simply battling clutter. If you feel like you never have time to tidy up, clutter is probably the reason why.
Despite the clear benefits of decluttering, many of us still struggle to get rid of items we no longer need. If you’ve been living in the same place – and accumulating clutter – for many years, the task of culling your possessions can feel overwhelming… But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. By tackling your clutter in small, planned steps, you can gradually make the transition to a more minimalist lifestyle. Check out the helpful tips below to get started:
6 Simple Ways to Declutter Your Home – For Good
Get rid of things on the go.
The worst way to think of decluttering is to see it as a single, monumental task that needs to be completed in a weekend. After all, the last thing you want to do is drag all of your possessions out of storage, only to get exhausted halfway through the job and quit – leaving your home more of a mess than ever.
Instead, the ideal way to start decluttering is to get into the habit of throwing out old or unwanted items as you go about your daily activities. When you’re cleaning the bathroom, for example, collect any mostly-empty shampoo and lotion bottles you find, old makeup you no longer use, etc., and toss them out. While you’re making dinner, throw away expired condiments. On laundry day, collect garments you haven’t worn in the last year and donate them to charity. By taking these small steps over the course of several weeks, you’ll prepare your home for more extensive organization without causing yourself unnecessary stress.
Set a rule about which items you’ll part with, and stick to it.
Aside from time constraints, deciding which items to get rid of is the most significant obstacle people face when decluttering. It’s tempting to keep anything that might be useful “one day,” and it’s hard to part with objects that have sentimental value… But there’s no way around it: If you’re serious about getting clutter under control, you’ll need to set strict rules for yourself before you get to work.
Most experts recommend getting rid of anything you haven’t used for over a year, unless the item would be impossible or very costly to replace. If you don’t want to go quite that far, we suggest collecting items that don’t fit the aforementioned criteria and setting them aside in their own pile. Then, select no more than five “optional” items per room that you want to keep.
Declutter one room at a time.
Choosing a single room to declutter each weekend will keep the job manageable and minimize disruption to your household. Start with small rooms first, like closets and bathrooms, then tackle the living areas of your home. Finally, clear out excess items stored in your garage, shed, or personal storage unit.
Whenever possible, go digital.
Old DVDs, books, and CDs can take up a lot of shelf space. To create room for more attractive or important items, try finding digital copies of your favorite songs, movies, and books, then get rid of the physical versions.
Get the whole family involved in organizing your home.
As any parent knows, decluttering with kids around can feel like an exercise in futility. Not only do kids like to get into everything while you’re working, they have a way of suddenly becoming attached to things they haven’t touched in years when it’s time to get rid of them and even countertops can become cluttered.
Rather than wasting time debating with your kids about what to keep, create an incentive system that encourages them to part with things they don’t need: Offer your kids a small amount of money (like a quarter or a dollar) for every item they part with. You can also offer your kids a bonus reward if they’re willing to help you organize the rest of the house.
If your kids are too young to help out, consider asking a relative to watch them for a few hours each weekend while you work. This will give you some interruption-free time to focus on the task at hand.
Use the “three box” method.
Placing items on the floor while you organize them can create trip hazards and make your home feel messier than ever. To keep everything tidy and organized while you declutter, it’s a good idea to place three large boxes or plastic bins in the room you’re working on. Label the bins “Keep,” “Toss,” and “Optional.” Then, sort items into each box based on the rules you established for yourself prior to decluttering.
When you’re done working, put the items you’ve decided to keep back in their proper places. Then, take surplus usable items and either donate them to charity or hold a garage sale. Broken or useless items can go in the garbage.
Need Help Cleaning or Organizing Your Home? We’re Here For You!
If keeping your home clean still feels like a challenge after you’ve gotten rid of clutter, don’t be too hard on yourself. Factors like having a large home, having kids or pets, or working long hours can make regular housecleaning a daunting chore, even for minimalists. Fortunately, there’s help available: The professional maids at BetterCleans can keep your home spotless, without breaking your budget. To learn more about our affordable cleaning services in Milwaukee, contact us through our convenient online portal and spend your day relaxing in Veteran’s Park instead.