101 Ways to Clean Out the Clutter by Emilie Barnes


Why All That Clutter?

What is it about your lifestyle that causes you to be surrounded with clutter? Search yourself, your habits, your routines, your methods, and even your philosophy about stuff to see what might lead to all that clutter.

I find that organized people have a calmness and serenity about them that disorganized people don’t possess. Are you harried or distracted throughout much of your day? Does this unbalanced state of mind make your home and maybe even your work setting off kilter?

Pick an upcoming day to be extra aware of what triggers that sense of chaos or unrest. Is it a lack of communication, focus, or a schedule that does it? Consider how a different response to each trigger could shift you toward a more peaceful lifestyle.

No More Piles

Make sure everything has a designated place. One of my mottoes is, “Don’t put it down, put it away.” Another is, “Don’t pile it, file it.” If there is no place for stuff to go, it’s going to be piled. Make it a goal to prevent those piles.

I know it isn’t easy to do this at first, but soon you’ll become hardwired to sift through mail, reports, statements, work, take-out menus, and whatever else is gathering on the counters and in the corners of your home.

Either it is important enough to have a specific place or it’s perfectly suited for the trash bin! If going through papers, magazines, or bills initially feels overwhelming, choose a pile to take care of each day. Spend only five minutes sorting so you’ll make quick decisions.

Remove the Unused

Get rid of all items you don’t use. That means all clothes, furniture, bowls, cups, saucers, old records, old CDs, old videos, and so forth.

It seems harmless to keep something around “just in case,” but unused items take up valuable space. They also demand a significant portion of your time and attention when you handle, dust, wash, fold, and store them.

If you struggle to eliminate a shirt you haven’t worn in three years, think how good it will feel to give it to a friend, a neighbor, a church, or a worthwhile organization.

Have you spent several rounds of “should I give this away” questioning on one particular item (or several)? That should be your cue to finally move it out the door. You’ll feel lighter after you make these choices.
Once you clear away a few items and experience the pleasure of uncluttering your life, you’ll want to go back to the closets, the drawers, the corners, and the nooks to clear out even more.

Tools of the Trade

To be orderly you need proper tools: bins, hooks, racks, containers, file cabinets, file folders, and maybe a Lazy Susan.

Evaluate what you have on hand that can serve as a good paper holder, book shelf, or clothes hanger. When organization is done right and suits your personal style, it will lead to simpler living. Give yourself the benefit of the ideal tool.

Once you have a system in place that works, you won’t have to keep deciding what to do with the piles. Make a list of the tools you have and those you would like to purchase. Keep this with you so you can select the right materials when you are shopping—whether at garage sales, the Goodwill, or the local market.

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