80% of what we own we don’t use.
25% of people who own two-car garages don’t park any cars in them.
80% of disorganization is caused by clutter…not lack of space.
Between 35-55 minutes are wasted EVERY DAY looking for things.
(Statistics according to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO))
Whoa…those are some staggering statistics! On top of that, being disorganized and cluttered can greatly contribute to stress, anxiety and feelings of guilt. If you or someone you know could use some help in controlling the clutter, here are a few tips that might help:
1. Get in the “clutter-control” mindset. Visualize a more organized and clean space. A popular saying among professional organizers (and Ben Franklin) is, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” If you abided by this rule alone, you’d be well on your way. Imagine your living or workspace organized to the point that you knew where to find things and where to put them away. Life would be so much easier….and a lot less stressful.
2. Start small. The task of becoming organized isn’t easy. You wouldn’t try to complete a 50-page essay in one night would you? You’d work on it a little bit at a time. So, try organizing just one cabinet in the kitchen, one shelf in the pantry or one dresser drawer. You’ll be surprised…the more often you de-clutter, the faster you’ll get.
3. Start sorting. Once you decide on an area to de-clutter, make four piles: Keep, Donate, Trash, and Don’t Know. For the Don’t Know items, put them aside and sleep on it. Try tackling it the next day….but don’t wait any longer or else it’ll become just another box of clutter.
4. Keep only things that are functional, beautiful, or truly sentimental. Furniture, clothes, storage containers, etc. that you actually use obviously can stay. Extra blenders, utensils, old cell phones, gadgets, sweaters you never wear and so on…those need to go. If you have items that you cherish because of their beauty like, paintings, art pieces, and pictures, you don’t have to get rid of them unless they’re not fully being appreciated. And for those sentimental items…please don’t keep things because of a sense of obligation. If you don’t like it or aren’t really attached, take a picture of it and then either pass it on, donate it, Freecyle it, or trash it altogether.
5. Deliberately put things away in a designated spot. Put like items together (books, utensils, toys, papers, socks, etc) and put them in places where they’ll be utilized (clothes don’t belong in the kitchen drawers, likewise toys don’t belong in the home office). Use your label makers!!! For more tips, check out my label maker post.
6. Create an Action File and Paper processing center. File paperwork and open/sort mail the moment you get it. Click here for a step-by-step guide on creating an action file.
7. Bins are a blessing! Put like items in bins for easy access. Things like baking goods, spice packets, energy bars, and cooking oils can go in small bins in the pantry. Toys, books and stuffed animals can be put in larger bins in the kids’ rooms. Makeup, toiletries, soaps and other jams-n-jellies can go in small bins in the bathrooms.
8. Get your spouse, significant other and kids involved. Have them help in the decision process of where things should go and what items to get rid of or donate. Help them understand the importance of organizing and putting things back in their place.
9. Create a nightly routine of picking up and straightening up the house before you go to bed. Get everyone involved…maybe even set a goal of cleaning up the house and putting things away in 15 minutes or less. See my post on establishing a nightly clutter-control routine.
10. Internalize “Less is More.” Once you’ve cleared out the clutter (even if it’s just a small space), take a look at it. How do you feel? Calm? Relaxed? Empowered? Ready to take on the next de-cluttering space? I bet you didn’t feel that way with all the clutter before. Less really is more!