Declutter Tips

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Secret to Decluttering Your Space

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Is there really a secret to getting decluttered? Is there hope for the piles that lie in every corner of my home? Can I dare dream that I will open my closet one day and not have the contents fall on my head? I believe that there IS a secret to organization and decluttering and I?m willing to share it with you?anxious to share it with you, because it can change the look of your home, the atmosphere of your space, and the stress level in your life.

I propose that it all comes down to one main concept: whatever you?ve got, it needs a spot. Now don?t be deceived. While it may sound way too simple, there?s a lot of punch in that little statement. What were you looking for?an algebraic formula? What you need is a simplified idea that you can apply to every single aspect of cleaning, organizing and decluttering your home or space (it could be an office or apartment). The simpler, the better. It?s like a mantra that you chant as you wander through your halls, rooms, and closets. Start applying it little by little, and you will see miracles happening right under your nose. The sweetest payoff is that the more little piles that you clean, the more motivated you are to keep cleaning. This little phrase will dramatically change the way you feel about your home, it will energize you to do countless other projects, it will decrease your stress level, and it will change your home from a tornado to an oasis.

Just waking up and looking at the piles in our homes begins a day with stress. It creates feelings of unfinished business, endless projects and chore lists a mile long. This is depressing, discouraging and downright disheartening. I believe that you have all of the tools that you need to break down these stress-builders in your home.

Pick one room at a time, one pile at a time. Start slowly and I promise that you will gain momentum?probably sooner than you think. As you attack your first pile, remember the motto: whatever you?ve got, it needs a spot. Designate ONE pile as your goal for that day (or evening) and concentrate on completing that one task. Don?t make your goal too lofty. You will be encouraged when you accomplish what you set out to do.

Never underestimate the power of an empty spot. You will be absolutely amazed at how energizing it is to step back and gaze upon the now EMPTY spot in your room that you just cleared. By simply emptying ONE spot, you will be motivated to clean about ten more. But be careful, keep your goals attainable.

Invite a friend over for tea and tips. What you need is a second set of eyes and a discerning mind that isn?t your own. You need a friend who you trust to spend an hour or two with you, sip a cup of joe, and help you decide what to move, what to keep, what to give away, what to sell and what to do with what?s left. The power of another?s suggestion is very strong. It keeps you focused, keeps you motivated, and keeps you on task. A friend can also offer arbitrary advice that is invaluable when it comes to getting rid of our ?stuff?.

Embrace the nitty gritty. Alright, get ready to dig in with both feet. You will be handling everything from big pieces of furniture to tiny scraps of paper. And sometimes the smallest item can of greatest value! Understand that your piles may have a whole bunch of nothing that can be thrown out, or that you may unearth something of buried importance. Either way, your determination and full focus (inspired by visions of huge amounts of space) are of vital importance.

Complete one small task that makes a big difference. This concept has saved my sanity time after time. Here are my two main examples. One, if your bed is made, your room looks clean. There can be piles of clothing here or there, but if your bed is made, your room looks clean and neat. There is a feeling of order and structure to the room. Two, if your kitchen counters are clear, your kitchen feels clean. There can be dishes in the sink, coats hanging on the bar chairs, and last night?s dinner casserole still sitting on the stove. But if your counters are clear, there is a sense of space, order and cleanliness. My kitchen counters are the bane of my household cleaning, because they collect EVERYthing. It is my constant battle to keep those cleared. But, when I do, I immediately feel less stressed and able to handle other chores or projects. Find the spot in your room that makes the biggest difference and keep it clean!

Okay, let?s get practical. Here?s what this really looks like. I have a pile of papers on my desk that are a thorn in my side. So I set aside one hour to dedicate to this menacing pile. Here is my plan of attack:

1. Go through each piece of paper and separate it into piles?things that I need to keep and should be filed, trash, papers that I need to respond to by either phone or mail, papers or coupons that go directly into my purse, and miscellaneous. I now have 5 smaller piles, and it?s only been 10 minutes! Okay!
2. Throw away the trash?down to 4 piles!
3. File the papers that I already have a file for, and make a new file for the rest. (This assumes, of course, that you have a file system and office supplies for additional files.)
4. Put the papers that go in my purse IN my purse (see how easy that was?)
5. Place the remaining pile on my workstation/desk area.

Okay, I still have that last remaining pile on my desk. But the whole task only took me 20 minutes and I set aside 60! I have time to have a cup of coffee, read a magazine and STILL respond to some or all of those silly papers. Everything is now in its spot! And you should see my desk! It?s beautiful!!! I?m ready for the next pile?

Here are some other practical tips on creating ?spots? for everything else. In your bedroom, you need bins and boxes and baskets for your closet and under your bed. You have to create a spot for things like clothes that don?t fit anymore, clothes that need to be ironed, hats, shoes, sundries, ?things? on your nightstand, etc. If you have a designated spot for anything that you find in this room, all it takes is for you to put it in the spot. The key is creating a spot?a bin under the bed, a shelf in the closet, a coat tree in the corner, an extra dresser or lingerie chest if necessary.

In your kitchen, get a recipe box; put your bread baskets in a corner of a closet; clear the top of the refrigerator; invest in Tupperware! In your bathroom, get cute baskets at WalMart or Target for your hair stuff; hang your hairdryer on a wall hook; purchase a small shelving unit with a door for extra storage. In your garage, there?s only one answer?BINS AND SHELVES! This involves a small investment, but it is well worth it to walk into your garage and see all of your stuff labeled and in bins. Are you getting the picture? Whatever you?ve got, it needs a spot!

In order to avoid clutter, you also need to have space between your pieces of furniture. Don?t line it up like ducks in a row. Have a piece or two and then some space. This also applies to your kitchen counter and backsplash. The day I learned this amazing concept was the day that space came alive on my kitchen counters. You don?t have to fill every single corner or wall or counter! Get rid of superfluous furniture, appliances and knick-knacks. You will be amazed at how clutter-free your home will feel. Space is directly related to levels of stress. The more space you have, the less stress you have. Don?t get me wrong, a house should feel like home and have warm touches and personal flair. Just find the balance between a museum and a zoo!

Does this all seem too simple? The best ideas are simple ones. If it was too complicated, we wouldn?t feel capable of completing it. You CAN organize and declutter your home, as long as you take one small bite at a time. For additional ideas on getting your home under your control, check out This is my personal website, and it is a resource for women who want to have a home that is a haven of rest, not a source of stress. Have fun decluttering and destressing!

Pam Keller is the author and designer of, a website dedicated to women who run their homes. The website serves as a resource for motivation, tips and suggestions for organizing and decluttering your home. It also covers menu planning, effective list-making, internet shopping and cleaning tips.

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