Sometimes it seems as if our lifestyle is built on the consumption and possession of stuff. But where does the old stuff go, once we’re on to newer and better things? Usually into the land of household clutter! Like used plastic shopping bags stuck on the branches of a riverbank tree, our clutter poisons our view and enjoyment of the objects that we do need and want and use.
Most people don’t know how to get rid of clutter. The trick is to take it step by step. Here are eight easy ways to get started:
1. Go through your stuff and figure out what belongs in the following categories:
- Essential. Better not to lose track of this stuff, which consists of current schoolwork, textbooks, gear from a sport, or any other item that is a core part of your day.
- Favorites. These are items that you truly like and enjoy, such as mementos and photos of friends. Valuable and fragile items such as jewelry, art pieces, and musical instruments also fit into this category.
- Other people’s stuff. This is anything borrowed from friends or placed in your room by a sibling or other household member. This category can also include library books or video rentals that are overdue and ready to be returned. Sometimes this category will also include items of clothing or used books that you plan to give away, donate, or trade.
- Annoying. Junk mail, laundry, and old magazines are examples of life’s little annoyances that frequently end up in our spaces.
- Downright gross. Dirty dishes, leftover pizza, or super-stinky socks–gross is gross. You should be able to identify it when you see it.
- Now jump to action and claim your power to change your life.
2. Get rid of the gross. Dump it in the garbage, soak it in the sink, or disinfect it.
3. Sort through the annoying with a strong sense of clarity. Don’t need it? Get rid of it. Clip and file any articles from old magazines and recycle the magazine (you can reduce magazine clutter by recycling the old magazine as soon as the new one arrives.) Store annoying things out of sight–in filing cabinets, closets, boxes, or drawers.
4. Put other people’s stuff in a box outside of your room and return the stuff as soon as possible.
5. Make a plan for where you want your favorites to go. Loose pictures should go in photo albums, frames, or storage boxes. If you don’t have special place for jewelry make or purchase a jewelry box. Favorite possessions are usually items that you want on display, so plan on offering a little shelf space to them. Consider placing favorites in areas where young siblings or animals can’t get to them and damage them.
6. Make sure that your essentials are easy to access. Store them in the same place every day so that you always know where to find them.
7. Now revisit your categories and check off each item as it is accomplished:
- Gross is gone.
- Annoying is minimized and put out of sight.
- Other people’s stuff is returned.
- Favorites are given a place of honor.
- Essentials are located where they are easy to access.
8. What’s left? CLUTTER. Clear that clutter off your desks, dressers, bookshelves, bed, and everywhere else in your room. Put it in a big pile. Examine all the items making up this clutter pile. Which of these have you outgrown? What things are not that important to you and are just taking up space? Recycle, throw out, or place in a bag to give away. Then get the stuff out of your room. Place the things you want to keep on shelves, in drawers, or in boxes. Keep going until the pile is gone.
Adapted from Teen Feng Shui by Susan Levitt (Inner Traditions, 2003). Copyright (c) 2003 by Susan Levitt. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from Teen Feng Shui by Susan Levitt (Inner Traditions, 2003).