Clutter makes chaos. Susan Levitt defines clutter as items that are not stored properly (so either you can’t find them when you need them or you’re constantly tripping over them), items you don’t need or use that still take up space, and items you dislike that you feel obligated to keep. But you can conquer your clutter!
Here are six steps to rid your home and your life of clutter forever:
First, categorize your stuff.
You can do this room by room, since most of us are overwhelmed by the thought of doing the whole house all at once. Here are the five categories:
Essential: The things you need and use regularly.
Favorites: Your treasured mementos and favorite pieces of art.
Other people’s stuff: Things that you have borrowed, including rented videos and library books, and items that just don’t feel like they should belong to you anymore.
Annoying: Dirty laundry, junk mail, old magazines. It all piles up quickly.
Disgusting: Moldy food, junk food wrappers, that kind of thing. Eww.
Now you’re ready to conquer your clutter.
Ditch the disgusting stuff. This is the most obvious and easy place to start. Wash, dump, compost, or otherwise get rid of it.
Deal with the annoying stuff. Recycle magazines and junk mail, collect and wash the laundry, file, box, and store the things you think you might need, but get all of it out of sight and out of your space.
Donate. Give borrowed items back to their owners. Donate unwanted stuff to a local charity. Be honest with yourself: if you really detest something, even though it was a gift, get rid of it. You will find this to be remarkable cathartic and freeing.
Display. Your favorite things deserve special places where they can go. Honor your jewelry with a beautiful box, place loose photos in an album, make a shelf to show off your collections.
Devise. Your essential things need to be accessed easily, so devise a system so you’re not always fruitlessly searching for them. Keys can go on a hook by the door, bills in a basket on the desk, dirty laundry in a hamper in your closet, borrowed items in a box that you check every time you’re getting ready to visit someone.
Inspired by Teen Feng Shui, by Susan Levitt (Inner Traditions, 2003).