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Clear Clutter Out of Your House -- and Relax

When you have a cluttered home, it’s hard to de-stress and decompress. Try these tips to clear clutter from your home.
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WebMD Feature

The mind is a terrible thing to clutter. But when you have a cluttered home, it’s hard to de-stress and decompress.

“Think about it,” says Lisa Jacobs, a certified home organizer and the founder of Imagine It Done, a lifestyle consultancy in Roslyn, N.Y.

“When you get up in the morning, if you have clutter right there in your face, it starts your day off on the wrong foot. When you have to start your day by looking for your keys or your phone or your toothbrush, it makes you anxious and you haven’t even left the house yet!”

If you think you don’t have time to clear your clutter, think again. With an action plan from experts, you can bust the clutter in your home in 15-minute chunks every day -- and build yourself an oasis of calm that’s also less of a haven for dust, dirt, and allergens.

Before you de-clutter any space, prepare. You need bags or boxes for four purposes, says Ellen Delap, a professional organizer in Houston:

  • Things you will donate to charity
  • Things you want to sell at a yard sale, or on Craigslist, Ebay, or freecycle
  • Things that belong in another room
  • Things headed for the trash  

Now you’re ready to de-clutter any room.

When in Doubt About Clutter, Psych Yourself Out

Many home organization experts say “When in doubt, throw it out.” Colorado psychotherapist and organizing consultant Aricia LaFrance isn’t so strict. “It just slows you down and makes you hate organizing,” she says.

Instead, if you have something you don’t wear or use, but are on the fence about parting with it, stick it in a box. Put the box in your garage or attic, and write a future date on it -- one year or six months from now.

“If you really need something from that box, you can go out and get it,” says LaFrance. “When the date comes -- and you need to write it in your calendar -- don’t open the box. Donate it or throw it away.”

Try 15-Minute Clutter Workouts

Get yourself a timer -- a stopwatch or a classic old egg timer. Don’t just use the one on the stove or microwave; you won’t necessarily hear it in the basement or your bedroom.

Set it for 15 minutes. Choose the worst, most cluttered area of your house. It doesn’t need to be a room. It can be a corner, a shelf, the top of the microwave. Jacobs likes to start with the kitchen counter, where everything from bills to magazines to kids’ school projects often pile up. “If you clean up your counter space, you will breathe,” she says.

Sort quickly: bills that need to be paid and kids’ art to be put in their rooms goes in the distribution basket. Three-month-old baby announcements, party invitations, and pieces of fast-food toys go in the trash.

When the timer beeps, you’re done. Once you’ve done this baby step a few times, you can take on bigger spaces and set the timer for an hour to tackle tougher challenges like closets or basements.

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