The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.
Just because we’re about a month from summer doesn’t mean you can’t still do some spring cleaning. In the past, we’ve given you tips on how to organize your home, your car, and the best way to keep track of your important documents, as well as ways to get rid of extra clothes and papers.
In fact, you may have heard the popular saying, “Collect moments, not things,” by Aarti Khurana. I love it and try my best to live by that motto, though I know it’s tempting to get that cute dress or jacket that’s on sale.
And, as you may know, Americans love their stuff. For instance, just look at the TV show Hoarders, where people are so emotionally attached to their possessions, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of them. Countless studies have been done, too, on people’s obsession with collecting more, not less.
One such study was done by researchers at UCLA and compiled in a book, Life at Home in the 21st Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors, consisting of looking inside 32 families’ lives for four years and, specifically, at their material belongings.
The book started as a project and collected nearly 20,000 photos, 47 hours of video home tours narrated by families, and 1,540 hours of videotaped interviews and family interactions, according to UCLA Magazine.
“It’s difficult to find time to sort, organize and manage these possessions,” said Anthony P. Graesch, one of the authors of the book. “Thus, our excess becomes a visible sign of unaccomplished work that constantly challenges our deeply engrained notions of tidy homes and elicits substantial stress.”
But, all that said, it’s not too late for you to not only begin de-cluttering, but to also continue de-cluttering—so it goes from something you avoid to a daily habit.
Here are six ways you can start becoming clutter-free right now.
1. Start Small—i.e., “A Box A Day”
In Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, she talks about writing in 15-minute increments, and setting a timer to do so. The idea is, you will begin… and then not stop.
So, too, is common with cleaning and sorting. I’ve moved a lot and, each time, my grandma would say to just do, “A box a day.” And, usually, one box a day led to two a day, and so on. Then, in no time, there’d be no more boxes. My grandma also advised to do one room at a time, so progress could be seen, versus doing a box in this room and a box in that room.
The Organizing Made Fun blog, too, has great tips on how to maintain a clean house—also with just 15 minutes a day. Becky, the blog’s creator, even gives her sample schedule to show you how it’s done. And, of course, more regular cleaning should mean less clutter. So if she can do it, so can you!
A super organized friend of mine moved recently and, beforehand, she sorted everything according to the following categories: “Keep,” “Sell,” “Give to Friends,” “Donate,” and “Trash.”
Some people set aside things to put into their garage or storage, as well, but my friend said she lives by, “Out of sight, out of mind,” and didn’t see the point.
I agree—though I know it takes work getting to that point and some of us tend to save things more than others.
3. If You Do Store Things, Put A Date On Them
I love this tip, and am going to start using it right after I’m done writing this article. For all of us who have put things into storage or our garages, when’s the last time you looked at or used any of those items?
If it’s been more than a year of neglect, it’s time to say goodbye, according to Psychology Today. And if you’re in the about-to-store-stuff phase? They suggest labeling boxes with dates of when you store them. Then, see how much time goes by. A year? Toss it. Or donate it. Or sell it. You get the idea.
4. Adapt “One In, One Out” As Your Mantra
What’s the “one in, one out” rule? As you can imagine, every time you bring something new home, you should get rid of something, suggests Mindbodygreen. Bought a new shirt? Goodbye to one you already had. Bought a new book? Donate one you already read. And so on. If you really can’t part with something, you can “loan” it to a friend for safe-keeping. Chances are, you’ll forget all about it.
So, if you buy a new shirt for $30, put $30 in your savings account, too, or $15. Create a system that works and you can stick to. Soon, you may discover that your money is better off being saved versus spent. (Plus, your closet is packed…)
5. Put Everything Back In Its Place
Every time you use something, put it back right away, states Psychology Today, as well as my moving friend above. Otherwise, you’ll soon have a collection of items on your desk, dresser, kitchen counter, or what have you, and it’ll take longer putting them all back versus if you’d done so immediately.
6. Clean Your Desk Daily
What, you may be wondering. Daily?! The blog, BecomingMinimalist, gives tips on how to maintain a clean desk, one of which is assessing what truly needs to be on the desk. “If it’s not essential, remove it permanently,” BecomingMinimalist advises. Plus, store things, like all your Post-it Notes, digitally, they suggest, in addition to de-cluttering your computer desktop.
What inspired BecomingMinimalist to do this nightly regimen? Advice from a businessman from the Philippines, which was, “Clear off your office desk every night before you leave. You’ll be thankful in the morning.” So, BecomingMinimalist’s Joshua Becker started to do it and suggests that people set aside five minutes at the end of the day to clear off their desks. Five minutes! That’s nothing, right?
“Rest assured that once you get started with the habit, it’ll take far less than five minutes,” Becker states on his blog. “But set that much aside at the beginning. Trust me, your morning you will thank you.”
For some additional de-cluttering motivation, you can check out this George Carlin clip where he talks about “stuff.” You may recall that he once said, “A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.” Exactly!
[youtube id=”MvgN5gCuLac” width=”600″ height=”350″ autoplay=”no” api_params=”” class=””]
Photo by Living Rooms London