Ever felt like clutter is choking the life out of you?
I’m a creative mind (a nice way of saying I’m all over the place!)- which naturally means my stuff is sprawled out everywhere. I have no less than 5 half-completed projects all over the house at any given time, and my natural instinct is to leave all the components “easily accessible” right where I last used them, just in case inspiration strikes again suddenly.
My husband is the exact opposite. His desk at work has ONE THING. Literally, all that is there is his laptop. No pencils, no sticky notes, no stray papers – just his laptop. We are such opposites on this that it’s laughable – almost. It was a source of great contention early in our marriage, when our creative free space and minimalist viewpoints collided in our shared space called “home.”
We’ve both grown and learned about flexibility in this area – both of us giving a little to compromise. My projects have a home (that isn’t the middle of the floor), and he just doesn’t go near their home so he doesn’t have to see the messiness of the creative process.
The addition of kids to our family has certainly given me much pause and reflection on my old cluttered ways. (Or my husband has been slowly and painstakingly luring me to the dark side!) The clutter was out of control, stressing me out, adding to the overwhelm, and had to go.
But how to start decluttering your house – it seemed like a question too large to answer. I’ve found getting started is the hardest part – and then I don’t usually want to stop. Instead of letting the process drag on for days with stuff strewn from one end of the house to the other, I find it beneficial to pick a day and set out a course of attack. Here’s my method.
How To Declutter Your House In One Day
Find Those Clutter Zones
How can you fix a problem if you don’t know where it is?
Take some time and go through your house, noting the places that seem to pile up with stuff, the places that make your heart pound a little harder from anxiety, or the trouble spots that seem to eat everyone’s car keys and homework. Identifying these trouble spots and naming them as clutter zones is the first step in your battle plan.
If the idea of picking just a handful of places is overwhelming you, or you feel like the whole house is just one big clutter zone, pick 2 or 3 places to start with. You eat an elephant one bite at a time, not all in one bite. The best way to succeed at a large scale project is by tackling small, manageable pieces of the whole until it is all completed.
Some common clutter zones (at least in our house) seem to be the entryway, the dining room table, and the kitchen counters. Car keys, mail, pocket contents, art projects, treasures found outside, important notices, things to do – they all just seem to pile up in these spots and grow a life of their own.
Everything Has a Home
Now that you know what you’re up against, it’s time to get to work. Telling everyone to just stop putting stuff there is a lot like Michael Scott in “The Office” declaring bankruptcy – meaningless, and not nearly as funny. The piles of stuff will still happen – just maybe in a different place.
The main reason for clutter is that this “stuff” doesn’t have a home. Without a designated place to put all these things, everyone just dumps them wherever. So, we need to make homes.
Perhaps you need a little bowl or hooks in the entryway to collect keys. A small wire basket for mail and bills that need to be addressed at a later time can work well (if you actually empty it at said later time!). Maybe an art board displayed somewhere prominent in the house where your kids can rotate their latest masterpieces (and then take a picture with ArtKive and recycle) is just what your counters need to see the light of day again.
My only caution here is not to make these “homes” too broad. Otherwise, your “home” just becomes a junk drawer – and even hidden clutter is still clutter.
Sometimes, instead of adding a home, you need to take away the existing table or cubby that collects all the junk. Our dining room table was the dumping zone, so I found a pretty, simple place setting to leave permanently on the table as a visual reminder that this is a clutter free zone! You’ll be surprised at the dramatic difference a few small changes can make.
New House Rule: Touch Things Once
The best anti-clutter rule I’ve ever heard is to just touch things once. What this means is that you deal with the object as soon as it is in your hands. When you bring in the mail, sort it then – putting the junk in the recycling can and the things that need attention later into their basket or other home. When you find a thing not in its home, return it to its home right away – don’t add it to the pile for later where it will be forgotten.
Touching things once certainly takes some practice, but it discourages piles to form. Once there is a pile started, it seems that magnetically, it attracts more things. Don’t let the pile even get started. Deal with the “stuff” as soon as it comes into your hands, and watch the clutter disappear.
Dealing With Kid Clutter
Having kids was the biggest game changer for me when it came to my view on clutter. In case you didn’t know it, kids accumulate stuff like nobody’s business. They also spread said “stuff” from one end of the house to the other faster than you can blink. Oh, and your creative projects and supplies? NOTHING IS OFF LIMITS. They find a way to get into everything.
My kids help me go through their toys about once every 3-4 months. I’ve found the more toys they have, they less they can find to play with. They get overwhelmed with the clutter just as much as I do. We go through and make 4 piles: trash, share, save, and keep, and then act accordingly.
The Art of Purging
My last suggestion for banishing the clutter for good is actually getting some stuff out of your house. If you’re anything like me, you have things stashed everywhere that you *might* need one day.
Just let it go.
If you haven’t touched it in a year or more, the likelihood of you needing it again is slim.
I’m giving you permission to cut ties with it. Give it to a friend who will actually use it. Donate it to a rescue mission or thrift store. It doesn’t matter what you do with it, as long as you get it out of your house.
Just like my kids, I get overwhelmed with “stuff.” Life isn’t about things, anyway. It’s about loving God and loving others well. And I, for one, can love so much better when I’m free from the burden of clutter.
Decluttering doesn’t have to take over your life. I hope this has helped you see how to declutter your house in a day and get on with your life – with a little less baggage to carry around!
These are my best tips when you find yourself asking how to declutter your house! What about you? Let’s attack the clutter together!