Aging Well
Stress-Free Living

How to De-Clutter Your Home

By Andrea Warshaw Wernick

  1. FILE IT: Papers often account for a lot of our clutter. This is because we put them in different spots — on the counter, on the table, on our desk, in a drawer or on top of our dresser. No wonder we can’t find anything! Designate an in-box tray or spot in your home (or at your office, for that matter) and don’t put down papers anywhere but that spot. Got mail? Put it in the inbox. Receipts, warranties, manuals, notices, flyers? In the inbox! This one little change can really transform your paperwork. Then set up some simple folders. Sometimes our papers pile up high because we don’t have good places to put them. Create some simple folders with labels for your major bills and similar paperwork. Put them in each designated folder. Take a handful of papers from your pile, or your inbox, and go through them one at a time, starting from the top paper and working down. Make quick decisions: trash them or file them immediately.
  2. TOSS IT. As you’re getting ready for work, and going through your closet for something to wear, spend a few minutes pulling out ones you haven’t worn in a few months. If they’re seasonal clothes, store them in a box and get rid of the rest. Do this a little at a time until your closet (and then your drawers) only contains stuff you actually wear. (This one is the hardest for me!)
  3. CLEAR IT. You want to get your home so that all flat spaces are clear of clutter. Maybe one has a toaster on it, maybe a decorative candle, but not a lot of clutter. So start with one counter. Clear off everything possible, except maybe one or two essential things. Have a blender you haven’t used?  Put it in the cabinet. Clear off all papers and all the other stuff you’ve been tossing on the counter too.
  4. SHELVE IT. Now that you’ve done a counter, try a shelf. It doesn’t matter what shelf. Could be a shelf in a closet, in the medicine closet or on a bookshelf. Clear just one shelf at a time and leave it looking neat and clutter-free.
  5. DE-CLUTTER IT. Maybe you don’t feel like doing a huge de-cluttering session right now. But if you take the time to schedule it for later this month, you can clear your schedule, and if you have a family, get them involved too. The more hands pitching in, the better. Get boxes and trash bags ready, and plan a pick up from a charity. You might not get the entire house de-cluttered during the weekend, but you’ll probably make great progress!

Once you’ve gotten your closets, shelves and drawers organized, you should take the time to enjoy the neatness but most of all the cathartic feeling you will receive from this clutter-cleansing!


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