Ways to Simplify and Organize your Home for a Stress-Free Sanctuary
I'm sure we've all been there: We're dashing around looking for something, and we can't find it. In fact, your place is a mess. Things don't seem to be where they are, always. No matter how many times you clean. In fact, do you find yourself cleaning or tidying up a lot? Do you want to find a way to end this madness?
I've been there before. I'm sure some of you just end up doing what I did, just move things around until they look clean. But the next day comes and I still can't find anything. And the pattern continues. To end this cycle, you need to start trying to not only de-clutter, but simplify the way your house is organized. Start a little at a time, and hopefully some of these tips will help you::
Donate, Give Away, or Sell Items That You Haven't Used in 6 Months, Up to One Year if it's a Seasonal Item
Why keep things in your house if you don't even use them? Having all that clutter when it's not even necessary just doesn't make sense. The less you have in your house, the more likely your home will look less messy, and you'll be able to find they very things when you need them. Start slow and make a list of which rooms/types of items you'll tackle first. Don't do it all at once because you'll get overwhelmed and probably abandon it all. Most people start with clothes, but anything will do.
Once you decide which part of the home to tackle first, create four piles. Label each pile "keep", "Not sure", and "Donate/Give away/Sell", and "Throw Away". You can use garbage bags or bins, as long as your piles are clearly labeled. Be honest about the items that you use. If you've used your items frequently or have sentimental value, then put them in the 'keep' pile. Items you haven't used or aren't sure about, put them in the 'Not sure' pile. Are there any items that you haven't used in 6 months or more? Put them in the 'donate' pile, as the likelihood of you using them is probably slim to none. The only exception I can think of is seasonal items, but you can always pare those down too. Any items that are beyond repair, or used items that you cannot donate (single socks anyone?), put them in the 'garbage' pile.
After going through this process, put the 'keep items' back. Throw away the garbage and set a schedule on when you'll donate/sell/give away the items you have in the 'donate' pile. As for the 'not sure pile', keep those in the bin (or bag) for another few months somewhere visible. If you need those items or think about using them, you'll go into your bin and take them out. After using those items from that bin, find a place for it. After a few months, if there are still items in the 'not sure' pile, donate or sell them. It means that you don't have a need for those items if you haven't taken them out of the bin.
Consider Products That Have More Than One Function
This method can keep your house from having too many things and prevent you from creating more clutter and mess. Do you really need a potato masher if a fork or your electric mixer can do the same job? Do you really need that electric apple peeler when you have a similar looking one that is only supposed to peel potatoes? The more items you have that can multitask, the less clutter you'll create with having less excess things.
Many people can safely say that a lot of their clutter is from having too many bills, catalogs, or magazines they need to organize. The less paper, the less clutter right? If you have a tablet or laptop (or even a PC if you insist), you can consider getting magazine subscriptions in pdf files, or even books. If you have multiple bills to pay (I would love to not have any!), consider getting these sent to you through your online banking site. For example, I now have my credit card statements coming to me through pdf files through my bank. All I have to do is log on to the bank's site and I can access all my information there.
If you have existing statements, bills, magazines or newspaper clippings and you want to keep them, consider investing in a scanner. Scan them all on your computer and recycle (shred or burn sensitive information though!) them once you're all done.
There are items that can't go paperless, of course, such as your will or marriage certificate, but scanning and preventing too much paper from entering your house in the first place can help create a clutter-free home.
Digitize What You Can
This is similar to the above post, such as scanning your items and buying books and magazines through your electronic device. But this can also translate into music and movies. Can you buy mp3s instead of CDs to lessen the amount of things you have? Can you download movies (legally) or rip your existing DVDs and donate/give them away? Can you put your grocery list on your smart phone instead of on a piece of paper? This doesn't mean you can't have many things, it just means that your many things will be organized in less places, instead of having lots of items that clutter up your home.
Rent or Borrow Instead of Buying an Item That Will Be Only Used Once or Twice
Why would you buy an item that you'll probably use once or twice? Not only will it take up precious space, it's probably a waste of money. This is a good time to hit up your friends, family, or neighbors to see if you can borrow a tool they have, or head over to the rent-a-center to see if you can get a deep carpet cleaner for those times when you want to do a thorough cleaning. Don't forget to return the favor too every once in a while if someone comes to you in need of borrowing something. Give and take people, give and take.
Have a Specific Spot for Items, and Always Put Them Back Where They Belong
This is the biggest no-brainer, but people don't always abide by this rule. One way to make sure there is a spot for everything is to label your items, or the actual space where these are kept. If you don't like labels, group similar items together so it's logical where things go. For example, if you have a shelf devoted to cereal or breakfast foods, mostly likely the next time you go grocery shopping, you'll put the cereal on that shelf.
That being said, make sure you put items where they belong once you're done with them. It really doesn't take that much more time to put the dishes back in the cupboard than it does putting them on the counter. Be disciplined with this, and in time it will be second nature. That way, the next time you need cereal, you won't have to second guess where you put it.
Out of Sight, Out Mind
That's ok if you've kept a lot of your things after making those four piles. You put those items back and it still looks cluttered. Now what? Consider getting shelves or storage that have doors or lids on them. If you don't see the mess you have, the less cluttered it will look. Your children have a lot of toys? Buy one (or more depending on how much you have!) toy box and store your items in there. You only see the toy box and not the five gazillion Lego pieces they have. Too many DVDs? Make a door for your existing shelving, put a screen up, or get a new DVD shelf that has a door, so all you have to do is close the door and ahhhhhhhh......no more clutter.
This is not to give anyone permission to buy loads of things or not throw anything out and just hide it. Rather, it is a way to create a less cluttered look if you have items that look cluttered, no matter how much you have.
Recycle Junk Mail Immediatedly
If you don't need it, toss it away. That way you don't forget it and increase the chances of these useless items fill your home. Designate a place for recycling within easy reach to help you get started, it'll become second nature in a while.
Be Extremely Picky As To What New Items You Bring Into Your Home
What would happen to all your hard work if you just end up buying more stuff and cluttering up your home again? Be more conscious in your decisions to buy items and be picky about them. Do you really need this item? Is there another item you can use in your home that has the same function as the one you're going to buy? Is this item I can buy in a digital version? You'll find that the more particular you are about your purchases, the less impulsive you'll be. The chances of your home getting cluttered again will be slim.
All of the above are some advice I would recommend you try to de-clutter your home. You'll find that an organized home will save you from much stress. You can finally enjoy the place you call home.