Clutter, both mental and physical, can do a number on your productivity and make you feel tired, inefficient and can cause constant, low-grade stress. Time is wasted when you’re constantly looking for things. You run late because you‘re disorganized. You don’t use your home to its fullest potential because you have closets, cabinets, drawers, maybe even whole rooms that are filled with junk you’ll never use, or even see, again. Here are my tips for de-cluttering the messiest parts of your house:
- Dump your duplicates. You really don’t need Dora Monopoly, NYC Monopoly, Yankees Monopoly, and Monopoly Junior.
- Impose a 24-hour rule for “junky toys” like happy meal toys and cheap party favors. They clutter your playroom and prevent your child from playing with all of the high quality toys you’ve bought.
- For young children, weed out toys every 3 months. You have a finite amount of space for toys, so don’t buy more than you can store.
- Avoid large toys that will “live” on the floor. Anything too large to be put away must be played with every day in order to justify the space it occupies.
- Separate bills from junk mail and discard junk mail immediately. By keeping bills separate from other mail, you’ll be more likely to pay them on time.
- Create a filing system that works for you. Avoid having a file with a single piece of paper in it. Filing will be less administratively burdensome if there are fewer categories.
- Eliminate duplicates of cooking tools. No one needs 4 spatulas and 3 graters. When you have fewer things in your drawers, you’ll see everything more clearly and feel calmer.
- Get rid of novelty appliances. Do you really need that sno-cone maker, the chocolate fountain, or the bread maker? These novelty appliances take up a lot of space. If you don’t use them, donate them to someone who will.
- Group like things together in your pantry, so you don't buy what you already have. Store duplicates of items one behind the other.
- Unless you have a large family or are entertaining a large group, avoid stores like Costco and BJ's. You'll be tempted to overbuy or to buy huge sizes of items, like ketchup, that expire before you can use them.
- Put what you use the most where you can reach it easiest. The cereal bowls and plates you use everyday should be very accessible. If you want your children to get their own snacks, place them where they can reach them.
- Make sure there are hooks your children can reach, and they’ll hang up their backpacks and jackets just like they do starting in pre-school. It can be stressful to walk into your house and see a pile of shoes and backpacks.
- Throw away all catalogs, solicitations, and junk mail before you even walk in the door.
For Professional Organizer Barbara Reich of Resourceful Consultants, eliminating clutter is a way of life. Barbara tackles organization with a 360-degree approach, streamlining the homes, schedules, and daily lives of her discerning clients. Equal parts affable and type A personality, Barbara’s tough-love approach yields real results and lasting change. With a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA in Management from New York University, Barbara began her career as a management consultant. Today she applies the same skills to help her clients rid their homes of excess clutter, streamline overbooked days, and improve quality of living. For more tips from Barbara, check out her book, Secrets of an Organized Mom.