Clutter-cutting Made Easy

Discover space you didn’t know you had by saying adieu to little-used items throughout your home.

We’ve all got a closet that barely closes, or a pantry that’s stuffed to the ceiling with nonperishable items (and yes, that can of beans does have an expiration date). Getting rid of what you don’t need can be a very freeing experience—but it can also be hard to know where to start. Putting your home up for sale is great impetus for a clean out: a home-moving checklist priority should be dealing with clutter so potential buyers don’t consider it a home-buying warning sign and move on to a less-cluttered option.

The scout

If you love that family and friends can rely on you to handle any situation, but your tendency to keep things comes from the anticipation that you might need it someday, you might have a scout’s organization personality. In order to let go, try creating a catch phrase that will help you identify items you no longer use frequently. Try asking yourself, “How often am I really using this?” or “In what situation will I really need this?” You‘ll soon start to realize that you’ll never need a lot of the items you’re holding on to. You can also set boundaries before you begin to declutter. Determine how many of the same type of item you should realistically keep, and then make yourself follow those rules.

Purge old paperwork

Plenty of us keep old tax returns, receipts, mortgage statements from 1992—out of the fear that we’ll need it some day. But be realistic: do you really need the warranty to the microwave you got rid of two years ago? Getting rid of old office paperwork is extremely liberating. Tossing random notes and old checklists and files quickly transforms an office into a place where you can think. Create a box to hold papers that need shredding as you sort, and then shred them while you watch television to make the time go by quickly. When you’ve cut through the backlog of papers, start fresh and shred papers immediately after you’ve sorted the mail.

Shop your pantry

For some people, being prepared means having enough food to feed an army. But the more you store, the more likely you are to forget what you have. In an effort to cut pantry clutter, explore new recipes for a few weeks to utilize what you already own. Avoid buying more nonperishable items until you run out of something. You’ll save grocery money and free up room so you can restock in a more orderly fashion. Make note of how long it takes you to clear out your cupboards, and use that as a guideline for how much food you really need to store in the future.

Restful retreat

Make your bedroom a haven by surrounding yourself with things that bring you comfort and peace. Let go of furniture and other objects in the room that take up space without adding value. If space allows, carve out a nook for a reading chair and ottoman or a chaise. Install artwork or use paint to customize and brighten your space, rather than relying on useless objects.

Organize for your needs

An organized closet can help set the tone for the day ahead. When you can see everything you own, you can find things faster, get dressed with confidence and feel ready to tackle the day. When deciding how you should organize a clothes closet, ask yourself the following: How do I look for things? How do I get dressed? How do I put things away? Sort your items into categories based on your responses. To make things even easier to find, try color-coding items within your categories, and look for cheap storage solutions, such as plastic shoe boxes or bins for belts, socks or scarves.

Declutter and do good

It’s easy to hold on to bath products such as soaps and lotions, especially those received as gifts. But don’t let these items steal prime countertop space or crowd out items you need to access every day. Create a boundary, such as a basket or bin, for “relax” items; when it’s full, follow a “one in, one out” rule. Have extras worth sharing? Local shelters are always looking for supplies.

Play stations

When toys, books and dress-up clothes have proper homes, children can participate in the cleanup process and help keep clutter to a minimum. Consider dividing a bedroom or playroom into activity stations to create clear separation. Make sure children have easy access to items they gravitate to frequently, such as a basket for books. Avoid oversize containers that make it hard for children to find toys, and keep lids to a minimum—except on items you want to control access to, such as art supplies.


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