A mountain of clothes on that one chair in your room, a mess of outdated documents and scrap paper on your desk or simply, piles of things lying around your home or office – you know what we’re talking about and you’ve most probably experienced the horror of having to sort these clutters out.
In almost every space, things will accumulate over time and before you know it, the clutter grows into a large, unmanageable pile. Dealing with clutter is easily anybody’s nightmare because not only is it time-consuming, but it also requires energy and patience.
These easy yet effective decluttering techniques are a sure way to maximise the usable space in your home and office, and are as simple as decluttering can get! Read on for some life-changing decluttering tips and techniques!
Begin with a starting spot
Designate an area to begin your decluttering. Choose the smallest clutter in the most manageable zone to ‘break into’ your decluttering routine. An example of an easy area would be your desk: sort out important documents, outdated documents and scrap paper into different piles based on importance. After you’ve gotten rid of the least important piles, further sort out the remaining piles until you are sure to have only sheets of paper that you really need, in a single stack on your desk.
Another starting spot could be your shower area. Throw out empty bottles that may still be sitting on your shelf and get rid of things that need to be replaced (razors, loofahs, sponges, etc.).
Remember to always start small and progress on to bigger clutters.
Have a ‘declutter schedule’
Decluttering doesn’t happen in a day. This process has to be a consistent and constant effort that may take weeks depending on how much clutter you have accumulated. To avoid tiring yourself out, set a few days a week and spend a fixed amount of time on each of those days to work through the piles of clutter. If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, you can spend just 15 minutes everyday to work on decluttering your space and you’ll get close to two hours of effective decluttering per week! However, if you have a tight schedule, an ideal goal would be four days of 15-minute decluttering sessions each week.
Once you set a schedule, you’re creating a habit that you will soon naturally fall into. This prevents clutter from forming in the future.
Make scanned copies of documents
When you constantly have documents, letters and printouts left on your desk, they pile up unbelievably quickly and sorting them out becomes a laborious task. To avoid this, while it is still practicable, sort out your papers into piles – as mentioned in point number one. Then, to further declutter, pick out documents that you don’t need the original hard copy of. Scan these and save them on your computer. And when you need the hard copies of these documents, you can simply print them out!
Look out for these things in clutter-prone areas
Even if you may not have any clutter in these places, it’s always good to occasionally sort things out in these areas to avoid the eventual clutter build up. Some of the most clutter-prone areas to look at include:
Dresser: We often put things on the dresser ‘temporarily’ (mostly things that are in our hands when we walk in the room) but end up housing all sorts of things there, so make sure what sit on the dresser are only things that belong there.
Medicine cabinet/bathroom shelves: Check for and throw out empty bottles and rarely used products that may have already expired.
Snack drawer/pantry/fridge: Similar to the above, you may be unnecessarily storing foodstuff that have past their best before date. Cut a small strip of masking tape that can be written on with marker pen. Stick this on bottles and jars where the expiry date is difficult to see, so that you are always reminded of when it’s time to throw something out. Another thing you should do is make a monthly stock check so you don’t double-buy foodstuff that may already be in your pantry.
Desk drawers: A common thing we all do is open up our desk drawers and throw in things we think will come in handy (lose paper clips, near-empty pens, small scraps of paper, broken-off stapler bullets) when in actuality, we most probably will forget we had them there in the first place! There is no point in keeping these things, so get rid of them.
Closets: Space in our closets and clothes drawers is usually unnecessarily taken up by pieces we rarely wear or can’t fit in anymore, which takes us to the next point…
Sort out your closet
As mentioned above, closet space is very often taken up by clothing items we rarely wear or don’t use at all. So here’s what you should do: to begin, take out EVERYTHING from your closet and sort them into ‘Always Worn’ (which should include basics, such as plain shirts and tank tops), ‘Occasionally Worn’ and ‘Rarely or Never Worn’. Then, try out everything in the ‘Occasionally Worn’ box and select no more than five best pieces (those that make you feel and look good) for the ‘Always Worn’ box. The rest of your clothes in the ‘Occasionally Worn’ box should go into the ‘Rarely or Never Worn’ box to be donated or sold.
Moving on from here, hang all your clothes with the hangers facing one side. Return each item that you’ve worn, with the hanger facing the opposite direction. At the end of the year, you’ll be able to tell the items you’ve worn apart from those you’ve never touched at all – and you’ll know what to throw out!
Create a ‘Maybe’ box
As you follow these steps to achieve a spacious, decluttered area, you are bound to find things you simply don’t know what to do with – a ticket stub from a memorable trip, a hand-me-down that you wouldn’t wear but don’t have the heart to get rid of, or just things you used to love. Put them all in a ‘Maybe’ box. After six months, take out this box and go through its contents. If you feel the items no longer have a sentimental value, sell or give them away. Repeat this after the next six months until you are left with minimal things in your ‘Maybe’ box.
Avoid future clutter build up
Going through everyday life, clutter is inevitable. But if you stick to these three rules, you will never have to spend another day decluttering your space.
Rule 1: Buy only what you really – and we stress, really – need.
We sometimes buy unnecessary things that we think we might need (especially if they’re on sale). For example, you see a fancy shaped ice tray that is going for really cheap and you convince yourself you could use this for when you have guests over. No, you don’t need it. So don’t get it.
Rule 2: Put things back where they belong immediately after use.
The phrase ‘I’ll put this back later’ shouldn’t be even thought of!
Rule 3: Don’t be afraid to throw things out!
You need to get rid of the notion that you ‘might need this for later’ – that’s how clutter builds up! If you have something that you’ve never needed for the past six months, you may very well not have a need for it ever, so don’t be afraid to get rid of it.
And there you have it – seven simple techniques to declutter your home and maximize living space! Now that you know how to go about sorting out your clutter, what are you waiting for? Go on, get started with your daily 15 minutes of decluttering and you will have so much more usable space in no time!