1. A place for everything.
If you don’t know where it goes, it’s clutter. Period.
Think you have too much stuff to find a home for it all? Well, then that’s where you start. Pick a room and a drawer within it. Dump everything on the floor, put back what you love/need and the rest is most likely trash or donate. If you’ve found items that belong in another room, take them there now. To another person? Put them in your car and give them to their rightful owner the next time you see them.
2. Only one extra.
As you go through each room trying to decide what belongs in each drawer, chances are you’ll come across multiple backups for each item. All you need is one extra. We live in the land of same day delivery. Thank you, Instacart. You don’t need 20 extras. Really.
3. Have an “outbox”.
Keep a box or bag in your entryway closet to put donate-able items in. This will allow you to have a place to put castoffs without the scariness of getting rid of them for good, right away. Make a plan (and a calendar appointment) to take the box to Goodwill once per month. This gives you a month to decide if you really want the object or not. Chances are, if it wound up in there in the first place, it should go. It no longer “sparks joy”.
You don’t have to give away everything, but you do need to be honest with yourself. The space you have in your house isn’t going to change, unless you remodel. If you don’t have a walk-in closet, you can’t have a walk-in closet sized wardrobe. If you have a galley kitchen, you don’t have room for one of each from Pampered Chef.
This is a good thing. Limits make the world go round. We limit what we buy and our credit card balance stays down. We limit our YouTube cat video viewing and get work done.
The key is to pick how much of an item you are allowed to have and stick with it. As many clothes as fits in your half of the closet, as many pampered Chef gadgets as fit in your drawer. When it won’t shut all the way, something has to go.
5. One in, two out.
Nope, not a typo. I have met very few people who couldn’t benefit from getting rid of two items for every one they brought in. It has been said that the average American household has about 300,000 items. Once your house is manageable, then you can switch to one in, one out.
6. Opt out.
Less is so much more. Give yourself more time, energy and satisfaction by eliminating the useless.
Junk Mail - DMA Choice
Email Subscriptions - Unroll.me
Telemarketing Calls - National Do Not Call Registry
Relationships - Anyone dragging you down? Leaving you drained? Maybe you can opt out of that one.
Hobbies - No longer interested in knitting, but still have 50 skeins of wool? Stop feeling guilty every time you trip over them. Donate the wool and make space in your life for a new hobby.
Work - Working to pay for stuff you don't use? Stuck on the corporate ladder, but not sure why you’re still climbing? Maybe you could negotiate for fewer days or a day or two each week of working from home. More work and more money aren’t always better if it comes at the cost of our sanity.
7. Shop Local and Outsource.
A common thread in the several hundred clients I’ve worked with is that they are time-crunched and overwhelmed.
One way I’ve personally saved a ton of time (and money!!!) is by shopping online using Google Express and Amazon Prime Now, as well as shopping at the tiny local store around the corner. No more driving and sitting in traffic, or nearly getting in fender benders every time I enter Target’s parking lot. No more dollar bins. No more impulse candy bar purchases while waiting in line to check out at Safeway.
A master shopping list can make shopping even easier!
8. Matching Hangers
Seriously. Best thing you can do for your closet. Laugh if you want, but I promise you’ll love the result. I'm not alone in this.
9. Ross vs. Rodeo
Quantity vs. Quality.
Chaos vs. Order.
Cheap vs. Expensive.
Overwhelm vs. Calm.
As you’re organizing your house, I want you to think Rodeo, not Ross. Pare down to your favorites. The beautiful. The joy-bringing. The rest is just fluff. It’s causing you pain or you wouldn’t be reading this.
I'm not knocking shopping at Ross, their price point is more in line with my budget than Rodeo Drive is. I just can't stand their presentation of items. It gives me a panic attack.
10. How To vs. Why To*
Out of over 300 clients, I’ve had 2 that really didn’t have a clue as to what should go where in their house. Everyone else knew the “How Tos”: own less, choose a home for each item, keep items in the room you use them in, etc.
“How to” isn’t what’s going to keep you motivated though….”Why To” is. Does the clutter keep you up at night? Does the disorganization make your mornings harried? Do the credit card bills keep you heading to a job you hate, just so you can pay them down and then buy more crap? Does the working keep you from spending time with family?
Why do you want to do this? Where is the pain coming from? THAT is what will keep you going through drawer after drawer and box after box.
*ignore all the other tips if you want, this is the most important one!
PS Check out The Why of Less