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How to Conquer Clutter: Easy De-Cluttering Tips for Busy People

Updated on May 1, 2014
Clutter takes on many different forms, and it can make your living spaces depressing and unhealthy. Start de-cluttering today with a simple process that will leave your home livable and enjoyable.
Clutter takes on many different forms, and it can make your living spaces depressing and unhealthy. Start de-cluttering today with a simple process that will leave your home livable and enjoyable. | Source

Clutter is the result of either accumulating too many possessions or allowing them to become totally disorganized. Frequently, it is a combination of both factors, mixed in with a healthy dose of "not enough time." Clutter can cause someone to become stressed out and to get discouraged as even the simplest tasks are impaired by the inability to find what you need or just makes it difficult to navigate your way around the house. It can contribute to anxiety, a loss of energy and even mild to moderate depression.

Don't buy more organizers!

One of the more common mistakes people make when trying to get rid of clutter is they run to the store and purchase organizers, totes, storage boxes, file cabinets, etc. Shuffling clutter is moving it around -- not eliminating it. What you should do first is go through and inventory everything that you have, then think about why you still have it. If you can’t identify a reason to keep it around, get rid of it! Toss things in the trash, donate good useable items to thrift shops or local charities, and give stuff to friends who can use the item. Remove it permanently from your house and your life.

Now you can concentrate on organizing what's left. Are you certain you've taken care of all the clutter? Chances are, you'll have to run through the classification system a few times, dividing up items that you use frequently, rarely ever use, and never really use anymore. Be honest, and immediately remove anything you don't need, even if it's just to a garage or corner of a room until you can take it to its final destination.

This is usually the best place to start, but it's not the only source of clutter. If your life is always cluttered and you can't figure out why, then read on for other common types of clutter that are often overlooked.

De-cluttering sound too overwhelming? Try the one-minute rule to get started

What all counts as clutter?

Identifying clutter can be easy. If you have old clothes that you don't wear anymore or that don’t fit anymore, get rid of them. Here's a clue: If you find yourself dusting off clothes or running them through the laundry without them having been worn, chances are that you need to get rid of them. You might have a favorite suit or dress for special occasions that won't be worn often, but they're usually the severe minority in unused clothes.

When it comes to your children's toys and books, if they've outgrown them then get them out of there. Maybe you can use it as an opportunity teach kids about donating toys they don't want to kids that don't have any, or pass them on to family or friends with younger children. Your kids may enjoy seeing others have fun with their old toys, and they're sure to love the extra space in their bedrooms and toy boxes.

Check out your shadow boxes and mantle decorations

How many "dust collectors" do you have? Figurines? Keepsakes? Now ask yourself -- do you enjoy having them? Most of these mementos came into your life for specific reasons, and at least at one point you enjoyed them. Is all the time spent just cleaning these little tokens worth still having them around?

Try keeping a log of how much time you spend in a month just cleaning or otherwise caring for these items, then decide if that's really how you want to spend that time. If they're just shoved in a corner where you rarely look at them and you really don't like having them anymore, then get rid of them.

You don't have to tell a gift-giver that you got rid of the item, and it doesn't have to go to waste -- that cute little rooster or owl you hardly notice anymore could brighten up someone's kitchen or breakfast nook. It just makes more sense to hand if off to someone who would love to have it around when its charms have rubbed off for you. Stop wasting time dusting something that's eventually just going to get broken and be thrown away anyway. Possessions are meant to be enjoyed, not to make us slaves to their care.

Don't forget about recurring clutter

Clutter that keeps coming back, like laundry and dishes, can be the worst part of cleaning your home. Don't let it get behind -- 15 minutes today can mean avoiding hours of tedious work later.
Clutter that keeps coming back, like laundry and dishes, can be the worst part of cleaning your home. Don't let it get behind -- 15 minutes today can mean avoiding hours of tedious work later. | Source

Don't forget the file cabinets

Next, what kind of paper documents do you save? People often will horde every scrap of paper that comes their way, from old utility bills to old bank statements. How ancient are these records? Throw out anything older than 3 years old. Keeping receipts just for the totals? Enter them into a ledger or the computer, and get rid of all the paper clutter. If you're really anxious about throwing away some of these records, scan them in and save them in the computer. An extra flash drive or two sitting around the house can completely replace massive, teetering piles of moldering papers and folders.

Why is your house and life still cluttered?

What's the biggest challenge to de-cluttering your life?

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De-clutter your time, not just your physical space

Sometimes, clutter is in our lifestyles and not just our physical homes and offices. Many people have the problem of trying to be super human. They work overtime, they're determined to be "that parent" who volunteers for every civic or school-related function to come along, or they don't want to have to tell people "No." You can’t do everything; there are only so many hours in a day. Part of your de-cluttering may require going through your schedule and eliminating some things so you don't over-extend yourself, and make sure you always have a bit of time to relax.

Curing your home and life of clutter is relatively simple. It's not always easy, but it'll get faster and more painless every time you do it. Yes, it may take some time and even tough decisions, but you’ll be happy when you have it done. Survivors of clutter who have successfully completed the de-cluttering process report a reduction in anxiety, having more time to relax, and enjoying their home more. No matter how deep in clutter you are, there is always hope and the solution is really simple.

Thank you for reading my hub. Now, I would really appreciate a moment of your time to help me continue writing what you want to read. Please leave a comment answering the question, what is your single biggest frustration when it comes to clutter in your home?


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    • wychic profile image

      Rebecca Mikulin 6 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

      Same here -- I have a whole drawer full of paper clutter that hasn't been needed for a couple of years, and still haven't gotten around to sorting and recycling. The other huge challenge for me -- baby clothes. Rather than donate to the thrift store, I always tend to hold onto them until I know someone who can use them that I can give them to. The result is another huge cluster of clutter -- eek! It takes time and persistent determination, but the house CAN get completely de-cluttered and stay that way.

    • Betty Reid profile image

      Betty Reid 7 years ago from Texas

      A great hub on a simple topic. I have old clothes I haven't worn for years, I'm almost as bad with the paper clutter, and I tend to overextend myself on time too.