You don't need to hire an expensive decorator, a professional organizer, or a junk removal company to reduce clutter at home. Here are 8 strategies for controlling the "stuff" we all have.
- Download an app to save pictures of children's school artwork, instead of letting all the actual artwork pile up.
- Have your VHS tapes or DVDs made digital, and store the data in the cloud. In a similar vein, scan tax paperwork (receipts, invoices, bills and the like) and plop them in the cloud as well. (Then don't forget to shred the hard copies and make sure to backup your data as a precaution
- The old and stale must go:
- Same with the spice cabinet: find yourself with no recollection of when you bought it or used it last? Maybe it's destined for the compost site.
- If there's old makeup that you never use, or is past its prime, perhaps it's time it ended up in the cosmetic equivalent of the afterlife.
- And we know you love that killer band fan shirt you bought back in high school, with all its emotional attachments, but if it's a clothing item that has dust on it dating back two decades, it's time to re-evaluate its purpose in life. Consider reincarnating it as a retro knee-length pajama top for your (or a relative’s) young child, or poke it in the closet for later use as a disposable clean-up cloth. (It's tough to let go, yes, but at least it'll have some productive use).
4. Rein in what your children own. All of those party toys and loot bag trinkets that are played with for a few hours and then abandoned? Have a "toy deadline" for items such as these that are deserted or forsaken in a corner, and not used after a week. Toss 'em! Keep the status quo with new items: donate an old toy or game each time a child gets a new one.
5. Borrow books from the library or swap with friends instead of buying new. Or invest in an e-reader to save space on books.
6. Make an online folder of recipes from recipe-sharing sites on the Internet instead of buying cookbooks. Alternatively, snap pictures of your favourite recipes in cookbook pages, store the photos on your computer, and later donate the books.
7. Rent power tools, a lawnmower or a snowblower that you use infrequently, or share with a neighbour. It’s the modern day equivalent of borrowing a cup of sugar.
8. Reduce fridge clutter by keeping all the food that needs to be eaten sooner in one area so it will be noticed first. To cure clutter in chest freezers, keep a list of the contents taped to the front to encourage you to eat what you have, instead of accidentally buying duplicates.
As a bonus, know how to handle Henri—your Handy Everyday Nook/Receptacle for Incidentals. Henri is where you might keep instruction manuals, chargers, extra wires, receipts and so on. Everyone has one (or two, or ten) of these, but comparatively few people know that decluttering is as much about the how, as the what. That's why great clutter buster ideas have to include separating each of those wires, bundling each one tight with elastics, and putting them into small bags or containers that are clearly marked. As for instruction manuals, if they're antiquated, toss them; if they're bilingual, shred the pages with the language you don’t need. And keep only the receipts you need in an envelope (only one!).
Try these few easy-to-follow habits, and you'll be on your way to being an expert clutter buster!