If you are living in a home where there are clothes piled in every open space, overflowing closets and unfinished projects on every surface, it can be completely overwhelming. Living in a cluttered home is not only stressful, but unhealthy as well. The problem for many people is that once the clutter starts taking over the home, it is extremely difficult to even know where to start the cleaning process. The good news is, we’ve created this simple guide to not only help you remove the clutter, but keep your home clean and clutter-free.
1. Visualize the End Result
The majority of people know that it is possible to live in an environment that is free of clutter. However, for those who have lived in a cluttered home for a long period of time may not be able to envision what their home would be like without the clutter. So, first and foremost, you have to visualize what a clean and clutter-free home would be like. Go room to room and think about how your furniture would be placed, what it would feel like to have your morning coffee in an open kitchen or to sit on the sofa and watch your favorite television show without having to move a pile of clothes in order to have a seat. Believe in yourself and believe that you can live in an environment that is free from clutter. Take it one step at a time and stay focused until you have completed the entire house.
2. Remove the Clutter
Homes are often full of things you don’t really need; stuff that isn’t ever used or worn. The beginning of a cluttered home is the result of owning too much stuff, so the fewer items you own, the easier it will be to reduce the clutter and maintain a clutter-free home. One of the first and most important steps in achieving a clutter-free home is to remove any excess possessions that you can live without.
Before you begin trying to declutter your home, it is important to understand the definition of clutter; having too much stuff in a small space, anything that you do not love or use, and anything that has caused feelings of disorganization. Using this definition as your guide, you can gradually move room to room and remove everything that falls into the above categories.
Take small steps by working in the easiest areas first, such as:
- Closets that are packed with clothes you no longer wear.
- Drawers that are crammed with unnecessary, unused items, such as old keys, batteries or junk mail.
- Rooms and/or areas with decorations that are outdated, damaged or no longer useful.
Larger projects will take more time and they will require more attention, but once you have successfully completed one or more small areas, you will be ready to move on to complete the following:
- Large areas such as the attic, garage or basement
- Sorting through sentimental items that you have “collected” over time
- Newspapers, magazines and books
- Clutter in common living spaces
In order for this to be successful, it is essential that you start with small, easy projects. After each task is completed you will get more excited about decluttering more and more areas. You will be amazed at how much motivation you can get simply from cleaning out a drawer. It is important to understand that you may not be able to get rid of everything and while it may be okay to keep some things, it is worth trying to pare down significantly. Have a small box nearby for storing items you cannot part with, but try to limit yourself to only keeping what will fit into a single box.
3. Changing Habits
One of the most common misconceptions is that once you have removed the clutter, your home will stay decluttered. This is simply not the case. In order to continue living in a clean and clutter-free environment, you have to implement some lifestyle changes. Once you have removed the excess, it will be easier to maintain the habit of keeping the space clutter-free, but you must learn to change previous habits.
These are a few habits and tips to make decluttering your home easy and manageable:
- Finishing all projects that you start and do not begin any new projects until the previous one is done.
- Clean the kitchen, which includes doing the dishes, sweeping and cleaning the counters, and appliances after each meal. This does not mean you will need to clean the oven on a daily basis, but it is necessary to wipe the top surfaces clean after each meal preparation.
- Place the items you use daily back into their designated area. For example, clothes should be placed in the dirty clothes hamper or be put away.
- Develop a nightly routine. For example, before going to bed walk through each room to make sure everything is where it is supposed to be. If you do this nightly, overtime you will find that the messes will decrease significantly.
Keep in mind that habits will change according to specific seasons, locations in the home and according to an increase or decrease in traffic in your home. For example:
- There will be an increase in the need to remove various possessions after the holidays and other special events.
- Habits will change with the seasons. For example, if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and/or rain, you may find yourself cleaning up water more often.
- Significant changes in your life. For example, getting a new job or giving birth to a child will require you to refocus your habits.
It is essential to keep in mind that clutter attracts clutter. Meaning once it starts, it will require a lot more effort to reverse it. It is important for not only you, but everyone in your household to develop healthy habits that will allow you to keep a grasp on things in your home.
In order to slow down the accumulation of “things” in your home, it is critical that your mindset be changed. Purchases must be evaluated on a different basis than simply price or want. Remember that each unnecessary purchase will require extra effort, energy and time once it has entered your home.
Before making any purchases, ask yourself:
- Do I really need this item?
- Where will I put it?
- What is the reason I am buying this?
This isn’t to say that you should never make another purchase, but is more of a way to raise your awareness and know the difference between the items you need and the items that will only create chaos in your home.
You can do this. You can live a clutter-free life. It will be challenging and it will take time, but once you have achieved the goal of being clutter-free, you will enjoy the freedom that comes with living in a clutter-free environment.
About the Author
Marcio Benedetti is the owner of iQ Cleaning – a Washington DC maid and house cleaning company. When he’s not in the office or out in the field helping his team, he enjoys blogging about everything from cleaning to cooking to business. He also enjoys spending time with his family and enjoying the great outdoors.