Clearly, a system to put everything in its place is necessary, with some advance work needed before this job can be accomplished. Effectively banished, clutter can be dismissed for good, provided you adhere to the system you put in place.
1. Identify and separate. If your clutter problem is house-wide, start with one room first and stick with that room alone. Concentrating on the entire house in one well fell swoop is simply too overwhelming, so give yourself the chance to enjoy your victories by increments.
Now, identify the items you absolutely want to keep and those things you no longer need or want. Yes, that may mean requiring yourself to make sometimes tough decisions by getting rid of things you still have a fondness for. That fondue set from the 1970s may be back in style, but you’re not using it, so donate it to someone who will.
2. Shelves to the rescue. Put everything in its place and then everything will have its place. This is best accomplished by installing shelving, what can be used in any room.
Consider what shelves work best and where. For instance, in a family room you may find that open shelving on wheels can make it easy for you to reorganize your room and get behind it for cleaning. Upon these shelves can sit books, knick knacks, artwork and other display items. Go further by including organization baskets, book holders and even dishes to hold the TV and video remotes.
3. Attack from without. You’ve already made great headway from within, but it may be that what comes into your home is causing you much grief. Junk mail. Seldom read magazines. Daily newspapers. Phone books.
Did you know that you can opt out of junk mail by registering with the Direct Marketing Association? Yes, the DMA makes it possible for you to keep unwanted solicitations from heading to your home, while also making it possible to get mail from other sources that you prefer. Just make sure that the net change isn’t a wash — you may end up with as much junk mail as before.
Another way to limit paper coming into your home is by choosing paperless billing. Instead of having monthly statements, invoices and related material sent to your home, have this information emailed to you. You’ll have far fewer papers to file, information that you can store on your laptop or other electronic device.
4. Get rid of old electronics. My, hasn’t the information age changed things? What was once important — fax machines, answering machines and VCR players — are no longer in use. Instead of taking up space and gathering dust, box these up and send them packing.
Most town recycling centers take household electronic discards, either through regular pickups or by drop off. If you have an old cell phone or a computer, make sure to remove the data card and hard drive first as that information could fall into the wrong hands. Some manufacturers and retailers take old electronics too according to the EPA.
5. Evaluate your purchases carefully. It is so easy to buy stuff and not think too much about the things that we buy. No, I am not talking simply about the big ticket items, but the little odds and ends that you pick up from the dollar store, flea markets, garage sales and receive as gifts.
Clutter does not happen over night. Well, not usually. Typically, it happens in increments and in increments you can reduce that burden (see step no. 1). You don’t have to completely resist bringing new items into the home, but you should weigh what is important and what is not. Then, when you bring something new in, look at what you already have and remove one or more items to compensate.
As I said, achieving victory over clutter is done in increments. You need to start somewhere, so choose the smallest or least cluttered room and attack it. Then, on the wings of victory, go on to your next room.