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How to Declutter

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In many of our homes we find crowded closets, jumbled drawers and overflowing shelves ...There is a state of confusion and disorderliness due to compulsive hoarding. Most of us live with clutter all of the time. Decluttering or getting rid of unwanted stuff seems to be something that we all dread to do. Find out how to declutter.


Clutter control

Space can be de-junked and time and stress saved by clutter control. Clutter control hints should help, provided one finds time to toss the garbage out.


  • A couple of minutes are enough to get rid of crummy sponges, expired products and leftovers occupying precious space in the refrigerator. And in this context of refrigerator, always keep items like milk and eggs with short shelf life in the front row to enable monitoring of the expiration dates.

  • In the bedroom, pillows could be straightened; bedcovers folded, and even a quick vacuum done.

  • Broken toys should be disposed off and the good ones donated to a school.

  • And it is best to throw away old cosmetics and outdated medicines.

  • As for straightening cabinets and closets, pull out everything and rearrange them.

  • It is always advised to put the things back into the same place.

  • Things like tools which are used often should be placed within an arm's reach. Similarly, clothes used often should occupy a central place.

  • It is always wise to tape an index to the container detailing what is inside.


Declutter

First and foremost, to avoid clutter, things need to be classified under three heads, namely, those that are always used, those used only during special occasions and those not used even after a year or so. This way, it would be easy to sort and declutter. Things that have never been used in a year's time can simply be tossed away unless they have some sentimental worth.

Things that have special use can be ideally stored in the back storage area. And this leaves us with things that are used often - they have to be kept handy for immediate and frequent use. For example, keys have to be hung on hooks to allow you to pick up readily.


When is the time to declutter?

To answer this, check if you can find the things you need within minutes. If not, it is time to do a reality check and declutter. For instance, if the tabletop is not visible, it is time to clear it as soon as possible. It is recommended to tidy things up before bedtime daily. And every time something new enters the house; make sure to send out something old.


Storage helpers for clutter control

Plastic and metal garbage cans with lids, see-through plastic bins and wire baskets can be used as storage helpers for clutter control. Metal racks, key hangers, utility shelves and peg boards help to declutter.

In a kitchen narrow racks can hold lightweight items inside a cabinet. A three tier wire basket should be ideal to hold vegetables and fruits. Leftovers can be stored in see through containers or with labeled containers with a date on top.

Magazine stands can hold books and newspapers and a big trunk in front of a couch or wall can serve as a table and trash store bin. Cardboard boxes can help store Christmas decorations and treasures that children have made. Hanging shoe bags are ideal for storing cosmetics, dolls and hair brushes.

Plastic containers on wheels can be rolled under the bed to keep linen. A pretty box near the bedside table is necessary for nail file, scissors, hand lotion and ear plugs, while a bowl should come in handy to hold a purse or pocket.

Under-the-sink cabinet in bathrooms can hold items like nail polish, small bottles etc and a sturdy shelf on top should be comfortable for toiletries and towels and other bath accessories. Two hampers - one for whites and other for darks, should help hold laundry clothing.


How to declutter?


  • Broken glasses, soap shards, batteries that are dead, sticky rubber bands and dried pens should be cleared out on a regular basis.

  • Junk mails should be dumped the moment you receive it. File necessary mails and place others in a large brown envelope or a file/folder for immediate use.

  • If time is a constraint, then break down the task of decluttering - into five minute tasks, one hour tasks, or one day tasks - so that the job becomes manageable. That way, decluttering will not loom large.

  • Enlist the support of family members in clutter disposal.

  • Think before you buy. Ask yourself the question, do I really need to buy this or have I got a place to store this?

  • Sorting, dumping and labeling should be an endless activity - if new clutter is stopped from coming home; that in itself is half the battle won.


Clutter control ideas


Before venturing out to clutter control, it would be good to ruminate on certain queries.


  • When was the last time I used this thing?

  • When am I going to use it again?

  • Why would I need it?

  • Would I need it at all?

  • Is this thing easily replaceable?

  • What is the worst that can happen if I get rid of it?

  • Do I attach any sentimental value to it?

  • Do I have the space to store it?

  • Is this thing so expensive that I cannot see it go waste?

  • Having found the answers should make the clutter control program much easier.


The next logical step would be to sort through it all.


  • Get boxes and bags from the storage area and keep things that need to be stocked.

  • Get rid of things that you do not want/ will not want.

  • Throw items that cannot be repaired in the trash.

  • Items in good condition but not of use can be put in a 'give away' box, for donation.

  • In case, you are not yet sure of a thing, put it for the moment in a 'not sure' box, which has to be reviewed later.

  • Those items that need to be repaired can be put in a 'to be repaired' box.

  • In case there are things that do not belong to you and have to be returned, put them in a 'to be returned' box.

Finding solutions for storage is the next logical step.


  • Have a reason behind sorting a thing in a particular place.

  • Store items according to their purpose of usage.

  • Use see-through containers wherever possible.

  • Label the containers to know what is inside without opening.


Clutter control tips

One novel way to sort out clothes is by their color. Clothes grouped according to their color can be regrouped according to their usage - for instance, clothes for gym, sweaters, t-shirts and so on. Before embarking on clutter control, measure the inside of each closet or rack. If the dimensions (height, depth and width) are known, it would be better to stock them, instead of cramming them.


Items like jewelry, scarves, hats and other accessories can be hung inside the hooks of the closet for easy reach. Shoes should be put in their rightful place. Match up and pair your socks.

If you are working, before hitting the bed, lay out the clothes for the next day. Make a grocery list and not buy things at random/tandem.

Go through Facebook, twitter, or other accounts and update them. Peruse what has not been used and simply remove them from the list. Similarly, purge twitter account from people/topics that no longer interests you. Organise emails and in/out boxes in a similar fashion. Draft a general email and save it in the draft file so that it can be regularly sent to someone you have not seen or spoken for a while. Declutter the email box. Unsubscribe from newsletters/reports you have never opened/read. Edit internet bookmarks regularly.

Organise business cards and addresses and contact details, if you maintain hardcopies. More importantly, set aside time for each area and tackle one small area at a time - drawer, file cabinet, book shelves etc. Go through DVDs and DVRs and purge shows that you are not going to watch. Make a list of movies you would like to see and update your Netflix queue.


To recapitulate, remember some vital clutter control rules:


  • When in doubt, it is good to throw out.

  • Use it or lose it.

  • Handle something once.

  • Recycle it.

  • Use a file cabinet

  • A place for everything and everything in its place.

  • Do not do things 'later'.

  • Label things.

For clutter control to be meaningful, it is essential to organize according to a style and pace that suits you. Recruiting assistance by way of friends, family and neighbors can be of great help.

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How to Declutter
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