Clutter seems to be on so many minds – how to approach it, how to tackle it, how to get started. It’s hard especially for those with busy lives, crowded households, and emotional stress or baggage. Great clutter tips from our member experts.
We have gathered the top clutter tips from our amazing members and you will be amazed at the variety, diversity, gifts, creativity, and depth these answers bring! You will find at least one idea that will speak to you – probably more than one!
Above all, the top clutter tip that all our Feng Shui Professionals stressed, coining a Nike phrase, is JUST DO IT!
We know that clutter is a symbol for getting stuck in our lives, for not being able to move forward, for not being available to welcoming positive and beneficial chi. And unless you begin, by just getting started, it makes all the other things harder! Starting with your clutter clearing is the hardest part – the rest will be easier!
Where to Begin
When thinking about how to start – where to start – what to do – suggestions all focused on a common theme: try not to be overwhelmed by the process but take time to embrace it. Take it slow, easy, methodical, in baby-steps, with simple organization techniques including putting items into manageable categories.
See if any of these great ideas or strategies resonate with you:
- Clean one closet or drawer at a time. Enjoy the process and treasures you find. Allot a specific time to the process, say 10 minutes or 30 minutes. Get rid of what you don’t want, organize what you do. THEN Stop at the one closet or drawer – do nothing else during that time. Treat yourself.
- Make de-cluttering a regular habit, just like weekly cleaning. Look around and ask yourself “what can I let go of today?” It may be clothing, a book or magazines, kitchen items, anything. Then put it in the car to take to Goodwill, a used book store, work or just put it in the garbage!
- Take one room at a time, one drawer or closet at a time, if necessary. Set up three bins or areas marked ‘keep (and find an appropriate place for)’, ‘throw out’, and ‘give away-donate’. This helps to stay focused and organized as you move through your items.
- Clear clutter according to the seasons or calendar, eg: January, “Do the Feng Shui Fling” by getting a trash bag and throwing 27 things you don’t need into it. February, “Make Room For Romance” by removing the extra books and magazines from your night tables. March, “Let Your Old Clothes Go” by getting rid of clothes you haven’t worn in a year.
- Use a daily meditational guide, book, or tip calendar. Many books, calendars, and apps offer day-by-day tips giving inspiration, support, encouragement, and the urge to get up and go! Even if you miss a day, you will pick up on a great tip or idea the next day to keep you motivated.
Stay on Track
Staying on track – managing your clutter can be a challenge!
Furniture: While we often think of the knick-knacks and “chotchkies” sometimes it is helpful to look at your furniture placement and usage as well. Start with placing the primary pieces of furniture (desk, bed, stove) in the command position – it automatically begins to help organizing the clutter. Doing this allows the space to breathe, giving direction to where everything should/could go. Setting up your space according to your needs goes a long way to helping avoid clutter and having a place for everything.
Check in on Clutter: Just when you think you are on top of it – clutter has a way of sneaking back in! Try mini-clutter clearing sessions. Similar to the original clearing suggestions above, set each session at 30 minutes to an hour and focus on one area. Building on the above sorting ideas of “donate,” “sell,” or “trash,” add a “Not Sure” box. After taking care of the sell, donate, and trash items – place the “Not Sure” near your front entry. This way you see it every day. If you have not needed or used the items in that box within 1 month donate it. The Not Sure box is great because sometimes we aren’t quite ready to let go; but instead of leaving the things where they where – in the clutter – isolate them and move into a high traffic area. They cannot be ignored and therefore able to come to a resolution much quicker!
Every Day: For your daily assignment – Make sure your kitchen is cleaned each night before you go to bed. No dirty dishes in the sink or on the stove. Delegate if you must. This allows you to wake up to a clean house and a clean vision. This doesn’t take much time but makes a huge difference. Also, be sure to have everyone in the home make their bed in the morning. The bedroom is the sanctuary of a good night’s sleep. When you walk into the bedroom at night, very tired, the made bed is more inviting and pleasing to the mind than an unkempt bed. Making a bed takes about 2 minutes. Try it and see the difference immediately.
Just like Feng Shui where the energy, or chi, permeates all your spaces – indoors and out – clutter can be an issue with your outdoor spaces as well.
- Sheds and outbuildings, storage, and around your home – these all should be free of clutter as well. This does not include just junk – but also weeds, unfinished projects, storage, dog droppings and such.
- Consider also the lay of the land. Homes with land sloping down and away from the structure in the back can lead to the feeling of “needing to hang on to things.” Using Feng Shui, find ways to build up that slope physically or visually. This can be accomplished with walls or terraces, trees and plants, lighting, trellises or structures, and more!
Hot Spots and Guilty Pleasures
Remember – many people deal with clutter and extra stuff differently. It’s often not easy and can be tied to other emotional issues (see our next article on the emotional side of clutter clearing). Sometimes a few simple steps or “guilty” pleasures can help manage the overload of dealing with clutter especially in the hot spots of your home and office!
Manage the Mail: Mail can be an insidious clutter-builder. Create a one-stop mail handling zone with everything needed to process the mail including a calendar. The most important thing is have it close enough to the entry to avoid the temptation to put the mail down somewhere else! Include a box for incoming mail, envelopes, stamps, pens, return labels, chequebook and at least a small accordion file for temporary filing if your main filing is elsewhere.
Another option is to not to allow junk mail even into the home. When retrieving your mail, immediately cull out the junk mail and toss it in the recycling can outside. You are left with the few important items to deliver to their appropriate places.
The Gift of a Junk Drawer: There are certain hot spots that are quite challenging when it comes to de-cluttering. With the kitchen oftentimes comes the bottomless junk drawer. Staying on top of clutter throughout the house, sometimes that one drawer can be a small guilty pleasure – a special haven of treasures or go-to items. It’s one drawer that gives freedom to messiness and saving, giving great pleasure – and can house many very useful items including a pen, a tiny screw, tape…you name it, it’s in there.
Junk drawers can also be straightened using a flatware organizer tray. This is great for the kitchen but also a workbench drawer. The organizer tray is great for screwdrivers and drill bits – pencils, erasers, pens and such. If you see a decent one at a yard sale, pick it up, either for yourself or someone else.
Last Thought – a Golden Rule
Try to not have second thoughts. Just LET IT GO! More often than not, you will not miss the item and you will feel the lightness that clutter clearing can bring to your life, your space, and your relationships!
Click here to read part 2 of this series.
Contributors: Grace Becker, Renate Bell, Elaine Bentley Baughn, Laurie Bornstein, Tina Falk, Diane Gallin, Sandie Gates, Ann Marie Hunt, Joan Law, Susan McDowell, Lesley Mulvihill, Carol Olmstead, Terri Perrin, Rosalie Prinzivalli, Mary Shurtleff, Bette Steflik, Elizabeth Teberio, Marina Umali, Nicolette Vajtay, Caroline Waddington, Gwynne Warner