Raise your hand if you have an old cell phone tucked away in a drawer. Or, maybe you have an old pair of shoes or a box of clothes in the bottom of your closet that you haven’t worn for over a year. Or, maybe you have ‘a few’ boxes tucked out in your garage that may or may not have been there since you moved into your house several years ago. It’s called clutter. Despite our attempts to say out of sight, out of mind, it’s costing us our time, money, focus, and often our peace. Oh, we try to ignore it. For a while we may even stop seeing it. But as long as it’s there, even when we pretend it’s not, it’s got a hold on us.

 The cost of clutter

  • One in four people with a two car garage have so much stuff they can’t park a car in it.
  • One in ten Americans rent storage space.
  • The US has five times more storage facilities than Starbucks.
  • During our lifetime, we’ll spend an average of 153 days searching for misplaced items.
  • We lose up to nine items a day. Keys, phones, paperwork and sunglasses top the list.
  • The home organization industry is now over an $8 billion dollar industry and still growing.

 It’s both daunting and overwhelming. So what can you do?

 10 tips to tame your clutter:

  1. Ask questions. How did I feel the last time I wore this? How much would I pay for this if I didn’t already own it? If I saw this in a store today, would I buy it? Let your answers provide insight as to what to keep.
  2. Tackle it in small doses. Pick a number and each day I’m going to mindfully deal with that number of items. You can even nickname the effort – “Strive for Five.” Each day look around and decide on your five things and deal with them. They can be big or small. The idea with this approach is to be consistent. You’ll be amazed how the small but consistent approach adds up. And, you don’t need to wait for a Saturday to get started.
  3. Set a timer. Pick a window of time and stay focused until the timer rings. 30 minute sprints add up. Defining your start and end time increases productivity. Set your cell phone down and focus until the timer rings.
  4. Lose it or lose it. Put everything that you want to keep and doesn’t fit into a box. Give yourself a healthy weight loss goal for the next month as an example I’ll say 4 pounds. At the end of the month, if you haven’t achieved that loss, donate 3 or more things from your “skinny” box. Remember these are the clothes you hope to wear again. You need to lose it, or you lose it. If you aren’t making progress towards wearing them again, it makes sense to thin out that stash of clothes.
  5. Flip your hangers. Turn all of the hangers in one direction. When you wear an item and return it to the closet, turn the hanger in the opposite direction. After six months, pull out the items with the hangers in the original position. If you aren’t wearing those items, why not get rid of them?
  6. Start in your storage spaces. If your closets and drawers are disorganized, it may be helpful to start with them. Then as you organize your rooms, items have a place to go.
  7. Start with the space that bothers you most. You may have an area that is causing more pain than others. The distraction it causes or the risk of not dealing with it may warrant it to have the priority. For example if your paperwork is out of control, you could miss a bill causing you to pay it late. Prioritize your starting space as appropriate if one area has a hidden cost.
  8. Track your progress. Plan for motivational hits. After you get started, you’ll doubt your progress. This can be overcome by taking before pictures. When you can look back on how far you’ve come, you’ll be motivated to continue.
  9. Use the 3 box method. As you work through a space, have three bins – put away, give away, toss. Work through your clutter filling the bins. Then when the bins are full, deal with them.
  10. Stop procrastinating. Thinking about reducing your clutter won’t reduce it. Pick a starting point and do something today! It will be easier to continue tomorrow and you’ll be glad you did!

Please tell me I’m not the only one who continually fights the clutter battle. After writing this, I plan to heed my own advice. I’ll be using some of my time to declutter this weekend.

Where do you battle clutter? Which of these tips will you try? I’d love to hear from you. Click to comment and join the conversation. And, if you have a friend or family member who is fighting this battle, why not share this post?

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