If I lived in clutter I would never be able to stop thinking about it and it would hinder every aspect of my life. Where are my keys? Where are the bills? Where did I hide my social security card? Some people really thrive on being “cluttered” but it would drive me crazy. If you are looking for some ways to get organized and to get your stuff in order, here are 10 things that have helped me to get and stay organize.
1. Have a place for everything – this means your keys, your wallet, your office supplies, etc. If everything has it’s place, it’s pretty hard to lose anything once you learn where that place is. My files are in the file cabinet, my keys hang by the door, and my wallet goes on the little table in the hall. There is no mad scramble to get out the door as I know where everything is!
2. When you bring one thing home, try to send at least one thing out the door. Buy a new shirt? Try to get rid of an old shirt at the same time. If all you do is bring stuff home and you never purge, you will never be able to beat back clutter.
3. Boxes, boxes, boxes – I am a huge fan of storage in the house. Even if you have tons of crap, having it in boxes makes it look and feel more manageable. However, I don’t pay for any storage containers – I use shoe boxes, shipping boxes, etc. Why not use the free stuff instead of spending money on the plastic versions?
4. Craigslist, Ebay and Amazon are your friends – Sell, sell, sell. Books, CD’s, DVD’s, clothes, televisions, you name it – if you have it, someone else is willing to pay for it.
5. Purge twice a year – Make it a point to spend a day or two twice a year doing nothing but purging.
6. Put stuff away in storage until you need it. I am not talking about paying for storage, but rather your garage or some place like that. Your Christmas supplies do not need to be stored in your closet in the house if you do not have the room for it…it’s going to be 11 months before you need them again!
7. Start small. If you have trouble because you are overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” in your home, try doing just 10 minutes a day of purging. This is the system I have my mom on now – she spends a few minutes each day just doing a single pile or filling up 1 trash bag and taking it downstairs. It makes the process way more manageable and less scary.
8. Unsubscribe from magazines, catalogs, etc. – Catalogs you do no need because you can look at any of those products online on the internet, and magazines are available for free from the library. How many times do you read a single magazine? More than likely only once, so why pay for it and then have it hang around your house? If you can get it from the library, it will only be in your house for 2 weeks…and it’s free!
9. When you buy a product, buy a multi-function version. A coffee maker that both grinds the beans and makes the coffee. A remote control that runs your TV and your stereo. A blender that is also a food processor. By combining these type of goods, you can reduce the amount of “stuff” you have to find a place for.
10. Make lists. I have 1 small notebook that I have with me at all times, so I can jot down notes, story ideas, stuff I need to get done at home, etc. If you write it down when you think of it, you are more likely to follow through on whatever it is. So make lists – like what you will accomplish around the house next Tuesday, reminders to go to Goodwill and drop off your clothes, or just to file away or shred the paper in your inbox. Lists are an immense help to anyone having trouble with clutter.
Hopefully these tips will serve as a boost and incentive to get organized. If you have any additional tips to add, be sure to let me know!
Originally published 3 years ago; now updated and pushed back to the forefront. It’s important to keep these 10 tips in mind!
I’ve heard of most of these pieces of advice before, but I never thought to include multi-tasking devices on the list. That’s a great idea.
To go along with the “only work for 10 minutes” idea, I’d add that when you do get around to doing a chore, especially one you hate, make a note of how long it takes to complete. That way, in the future, you can look at the chore and say, “oh, that only took 10 minutes last time. I can do that.”
For the list idea – I use sticky notes and stick them in my wallet – which is always with me. That way, I always have the list with me. If it’s a list of errands, I stick it on the dash of the truck for reference as I’m driving around.
PS – arrived via beingfrugal blog.
Thanks for the comments Savvy & Marci!
Great tips. Stumbled it for ya. 😉
re: #8 Unsubscribe from magazines, catalogs, etc. – an easy way to get off of many mailing lists is to do it electronically through the Direct Marketing Associations Website at: https://www.dmachoice.org. You can also check out: http://www.organize-more-stress-less.com. Thanks for some great tips!
When I was learning how to get my life under control, the first thing I was told was to throw away all my lists. Do today what needs to be done today. Tomorrow make a list for tomorrow. When I have lots of lists – one for work, one for home, one for school, etc. I feel like I have more to do than I can ever get done and it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
I’ve created 2 ideas that help me a lot with organization.
1. Kitchen sponges: I recycle my new sponges for cleaning dishes into sponges for cleaning spills and floors. I cut the edge off the recycled kitchen sponge so that I will know what the sponge is to be used for.
2. I keep one of those magnetic dry/wet marker boards on refrig. The pen is hooked right next to it. Whenever I remember that I need something from store or have an appointment, need to remember something, ect. I immediately just note it on the refrigerator board. I’ve trained hubby to do the same. Whenever either of us goes to store, we glance at board and put needed items on a sticky note. Then the item is wiped off the board.
Cannot tell you just how much time and frustration this board has saved us, especially because we are in out 60’s and memory heads south!
One of the best multi-taskers on the planet: a computer. Mine serves as my voip phone (Magicjack), my television (Hulu and other places), my stereo, radio (shoutcast), my file cabinet (in progress), photo album, communication tool (email, facebook, etc.), library (via digital books) and income generator (writing online).
My mother, a very frugal woman, taught me that single use appliances are actually more economical. If the coffeemaker on your coffeemaker/grinder/toaster-oven/can-opener breaks, you have to replace all those things, as opposed to just the coffeemaker…and since you can’t get anything repaired any more…
Also, the best grinder may not be on the best maker, and so on. I buy the very best I can afford–not necessarily the most expensive–Consumer Reports is my friend. I try to see if I can do without an appliance–I only have a grinder, coffee maker, plain pop-up toaster, a microwave oven and a KitchenAid stand mixer. Everything else is manual—great knives (four–a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a carving knife and a serrated bread knife), a can opener, etc.
About those keys: does anyone short of a building superintendent really need all the keys they carry? My keychain consists of my house key and my car key, period. They’re the only ones I use regularly.
Do you not need a key to get into your place of work?
I so needed to read your 10 points on living the decluttered life! Most of the time I am fortunate if I can keep my desk clear.
Someone suggested to me once that that is the very minimum – clutter that’s in one’s face is worse than the clutter behind your back, unless of course what you are looking for is in the mess behind you. The idea is to keep the clutter in your “back office.”
Office Depot in Canada is closing down, so during the last couple of weeks I have bought some Desktopper hanging files and plastic folders made for “pile” filing, and have begun to put things in place.
The trick is to do a little decluttering every day – the daily purge as you called it. I find it helps to have reminders of my anti-clutter campaign at the top of my project list, and as the first item of my daily task list.
Thanks again for your article. I just discovered your blog about half an hour ago, and quite like it.
I’m so glad I stumbled across this gem. I am am obsessive about organizing. I am 20 and live with my parents and they are horribly disorganized. The clutter has spread slowly until it has infected their whole lives and simple everyday tasks become quite cumbersome. Watching their disaster I learned the importance of organization and simplicity and as I have little of my own to organize I am beginning to tackle theirs. It’s hard to know where to start since everything is in disarray and they are reluctant to let me change anything, but every single one of your posts helps me get a little bit closer to my goal.
Another way to get rid of unwanted catalogs/mail is through https://www.catalogchoice.org
I do love boxes but I limit my storage to a couple of boxes for seasonal storage.
I try to display 90% of the things I own. I installed 42 shelves in my small apt, 38 of them are made from recycled materials I got out of the garbage!
I Like your “Ten Tips to Reduce Cutter and Organize Your Life.” like it because it is clear and
and to the point. Information overload can be really be over whelming and detrimental to the whole process of purging and organization. Thanks!
i am a clean freak, one thing that i love about my self is i love decluttering, my house stays mostly clean. declutter every day for 15 mins you will see the difference in a week