A busy life and a bustling household can make it tough to keep clutter under control. While some disorganization in your home is simply a sign of living a normal life, being surrounded by clutter can cause feelings of anxiety and inhibit productivity and creativity. If you want to transform your home — and your life — now is a great time to get organized. These tips and tricks will help you create a tidy home so you can enjoy your space stress-free.
Benefits of Decluttering and Organizing
Decluttering and organizing make your home look and feel cleaner, and it helps you maximize your space and more fully enjoy your surroundings. But the benefits don’t end there. These are some of the far-reaching advantages of getting organized at home.
Reduce stress and anxiety
When your home is organized and free of clutter, you’ll feel a reduced sense of stress and anxiety. Being surrounded by too much “stuff” can feel overwhelming and get in the way of your ability to relax or stay productive.
Improve Focus and Creativity
Uncluttered surroundings make it easier to stay focused on the tasks at hand—you’re not getting distracted with having to look for things, and you don’t have that nagging feeling that you should be tidying up. Once you organize your home, you’ll probably start to feel more creative, and your productivity will improve.
Promote Better Sleep
The more cluttered your bedroom, the more likely you are to suffer from a sleep disorder, according to a recent study. When everything is in its place, it’s much easier to relax and unwind at the end of the day, and when you step into a clean, tidy bedroom, you’ll feel calm and content as you slip into bed.
Improve Energy Flow
Decluttering is an effective way to improve the flow of energy and foot traffic in your home. Unimpeded by clutter, your spaces will feel calmer, brighter, easier to navigate, and more pleasant to be in.
Rediscover Old Treasures
In the process of decluttering, you’ll probably find some treasures you haven’t seen for a while, like boxes of family photos or videos, packed-away baby keepsakes, or a pile of newspaper clippings or special art the kids made. Set these aside, and make a project out of turning them into albums, scrapbooks, edited videos, or other memorabilia.
Make Someone’s Day
You’ll also probably find some things while you’re organizing that make you wonder why on earth you’ve been holding onto them all these years, like abandoned sports equipment, rarely-used kitchen gadgets that just take up space, and that huge collection of suitcases you don’t need. You’ll get a warm feeling when you give these items to someone who’s happy to take them off your hands.
The Best Time to Organize Your Home
Anytime is a good time to get organized! Many people use the changing of the seasons to carve out some time to declutter and deep-clean. Spring and fall are ideal times for washing the windows, steaming the carpets, and cleaning and turning the mattresses. But other circumstances may also present the opportunity to do a quick declutter — or a major overhaul of your belongings:
- During the holiday season, getting organized will help you keep your home tidy for visitors, highlight your festive decorations, and make hosting a breeze.
- Any time you move into a new place, take the opportunity to go through every single belonging you have and say goodbye to things you no longer want or need.
- If you’re in the mood to remodel a bedroom closet or clean out the pantry, do a deep dive into the stuff that you’re storing there, and pare it down.
- Parents of older children who are moving out can take advantage of the extra space by doing some decluttering — but don’t throw anything out until you run it by the offspring!
Home Detox Decluttering, Room by Room
To truly declutter your home, you’ll need to do a thorough “detox.” Most of us focus on the bathroom, bedroom, and closets when we think of organizing, but there are many other areas of your home that could probably use some extra organization. If you feel overwhelmed, start with small spaces first and work your way toward larger rooms as you go.
Hallway and Living Room: Store coats and shoes in a closet or storage bench, and tidy up the living room by putting away toys, stacks of clothes, books, and miscellaneous items that are in the way.
Yard Shed/Garage: Sort through your shed and garage, and decide what you no longer need. Use a pegboard to hang small tools, and install sturdy hooks on the walls and ceiling to hang bicycles, lawn and garden tools, and sporting equipment.
Laundry/Kitchen: Make it a habit to tidy up these two areas every day if possible. Put your clean laundry away, wipe down kitchen countertops, and keep your sink free of dirty dishes (as often as you can!).
Home Office/Important Documents: Go through all of your bills, receipts, tax and legal documents, and important items. Some records should be shredded, but you’ll want to keep some documents, like IRS filings and other tax-related paperwork, for approximately five years.
Playroom/Craft Room: Organize toys into bins, and keep craft items organized in storage boxes with a label. Determine what to donate and what to throw away every time you declutter these rooms to keep excess stuff to a minimum, which makes playing and crafting more enjoyable.
Storage Areas: Declutter closets and pantries often to make it easy to find the things you need. Tackle areas like the basement and attic, sort items into categories items by category, making sure that only the things you truly need are still there.
Create Sorting Categories
A home detox starts by determining which items you plan to keep, and which items you don’t. You can make the process easier by creating specific sorting categories for every single item that moves through your hands. Label boxes, bags, or baskets with the category, and if an item in question doesn’t go back into the space you’re cleaning, put it in the appropriate receptacle. Here are some helpful categories, but use what works for you and the space you’re organizing — you may need a pile for mending when you’re organizing clothes, or a pile for hazardous disposal when you’re organizing under the sink.
Donate: These items can be anything that you feel a charity or nonprofit organization would benefit from. Think about where you plan to donate items first, and find out where to drop them off. Make sure the items are in good condition before you add them to your “donate” category.
Give Away: Whether it’s your child’s old bike that’s now the perfect size for his cousin, or you’re sorting through your clothes and have friends in mind who might like something, consider giving some of your items away to friends or family members who’d love to have them.
Toss/Junk Removal: Throw away smaller, worn-out items that can’t be upcycled or recycled. If you don’t have a way to haul larger items like furniture or appliances to the dump, contact a local junk removal company to haul them away.
Recycled/Upcycled: Some items, like old clothing or furniture, can be upcycled into something new. Give an old table some creative TLC, and use it on the porch. Turn a bag of old t-shirts or a bunch of old jeans into a quilt. If an item is irreparable and can’t be upcycled, see if it’s recyclable. If not, it’ll have to go in the trash.
Put in Storage: Some of your belongings — seasonal wardrobes, holiday decorations, or a crib you’re planning on using again — may simply need to be put into storage. Decide where they’ll go, and make an appropriate pile.
How to Know What to Keep
As you begin your decluttering adventure, it’s important to set some criteria for determining what’s worth keeping and what isn’t. Here are two major questions to consider:
Do you (or someone in the household) use this item? If you’re deep inside a closet and find the ironing board you haven’t seen in seven years, get rid of it. If you have a complex, hulking food processor that you used once in college to make hummus ditch it. Only keep these types of items if you use them on a regular basis and nothing else will do.
Do you (or someone in the household) love this item? Sentimental items are tricky things. If you’re keeping the ugliest placemats you’ve ever seen in your life just because your late aunt gave them to you, don’t feel bad getting rid of them. Someone out there will absolutely love them and give them the place of honor they deserve at the table. On the other hand, if your baby blanket is in complete tatters, but you love it with all your heart, that’s a no-brainer: You keep it.
Transform your space this month with some serious decluttering. You’ll enjoy a great feeling of accomplishment as you make a fresh, new start in an optimized, organized home, where you’ll feel better, sleep better, and find things more easily. Make your checklist today, and get started on a thorough home detox for a clutter-free life.