10 ideas to clear your clutter

If you’re looking for a way to lift your energy and escape the final-days-of-February doldrums, how about doing a little decluttering this week? If that sounds like more of a drain than an energy lifter, you might be surprised to find how different you feel when you take control and change even one small part of your environment.

Here are 10 ideas to help you make this happen:

  1. Do a physical or mental walk-about through your house or apartment and make a list of things that annoy you. What’s been out-of-place for months? Where do you get bogged down and can’t find things? Where are the piles building up?
  2. Eye the list. What pops out at you as the #1 priority that can realistically be decluttered between now and next Wednesday? Question yourself to make sure this is really the one thing you want to declutter. If the idea of clearing this space isn’t compelling, move down the list until something makes you grin at the thought of dismantling it.
  3. Do a time audit of your free time between now and next Wednesday. How much free time do you have? And how much time can you commit to this work? Look at your calendar and assign parcels of your free time to the task. If you don’t have enough time to tackle the job you chose, pick something else to work on that fits your schedule. You want to be successful. Don’t cut your time short.
  4. Now it’s time to prepare. Before you brush the first crumb off the counter, get ready to clear by getting boxes or bags, and labeling them for trash, recycle, charity, or return-to-sender.
  5. At your first scheduled time to work, pull out your labeled boxes and bags along with any cleaning supplies. Dress for success in comfortable clothing you can pop in the wash. Then do a few stretches, Ninja yells, or Zumba moves to pump yourself up for the work at hand.
  6. Now you’re ready. Set a timer for one hour to remind yourself to take a break. Then start in by clearing everything out of or off your chosen spot – drawer, closet, counter, desktop. Then pick up each item. If it’s a keeper – you love it and use it, or as Marie Kondo asks, “Does it spark joy?” – set it aside. If it’s not a keeper, off it goes to the proper bag or box. At the end of the sort, seal up the boxes or bags and move them along to a trash barrel, recycle bin, or out the door to your car for a charity drop-off.
  7. If you aren’t sure about something, create a “maybe” box to give yourself more time – though be as decisive as you can on this first pass so you don’t have to deal with stuff twice. Seal up the “maybe” box or bag at the end of the sort and don’t peek at it for another week to a month. If at the end of that time you haven’t felt called to open it, out it goes. Don’t give it another look as you wish it well on its way out the door.
  8. After the big sort, you should have much less “active” stuff. Now sort it out by type. If you’re clearing a closet, these types might include shirts, pants, sweaters, etc. If you’re clearing a kitchen drawer, you might have pens, paper clips, markers, keys, etc.
  9. Now clean and access your cleared space and decide what the most practical way is to put things back, grouping the similar items together. What do you need easiest access to? What can go into deeper storage? Can you easily find things in the current space? If not, decide on a new home to further reduce what has to fit here. Do you need dividers to help keep items neat and in place? Give the practicality of this space some thought before you put the first item back. And then put things away.
  10. Now comes the big time-saving tip – keep this area decluttered so you don’t have to commit so much time to it down the road! There are three tricks to make this happen. Make sure everything you put away has a unique “home” place. Put things away in their home place every time you use them, every day. And buy less stuff.

What helps down the road across all spaces:

  • Pick a spot to put things as they come into your house or apartment and put them there. This includes papers, mail, receipts, plastic bags, keys – they all need a home.
  • Keep flat areas clear of stuff – countertops, tables, and desks shouldn’t have paper and stuff on them unless it’s in use. This applies to kitchen appliances as well. If something’s not in use, clear it.
  • Deal with clutter daily. Every time you leave a room, look around to see if there’s something you can take with you to return to its home place or be tossed.

And how, you ask, does decluttering like this increase your energy?

  • You see instant results.
  • You find things you didn’t remember you owned.
  • You make lots of decisions which feels really good and helps you be decisive about all sorts of other things in your life.
  • Your life will feel simpler and clearer.
  • You will have made a decision to clear and acted on it. Good for you!

Happy, happy end of the cold months. Spring is just beyond the edge of the woods!

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I welcome your thoughts and suggestions for future posts!



3 thoughts on “10 ideas to clear your clutter

  1. 1. Einstein said that? Cool!!
    2. Let’s hear it for the Zumba moves!
    3. I’m sure there’s a joke in there… or maybe a poem… about global warming of my deep storage raising clutter levels ’til I drown…
    Thanks, Janie. I’m off to sort a pile!


  2. I found the colorful Einstein quote but didn’t believe he actually said it. That required a little research to confirm :).

    The Zumba line was just for you 🙂

    And I love the idea of drowning in clutter. That’s how it feels to me. Yikes!! 🙂


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