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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.

Buy Organizing Bins for Clutter

Before purging yourself of unneeded clutter, you may need to buy some needed things: clear plastic bins, of various sizes, along with white first-aid tape.

“These bins are a lifesaver,” says Jacobs. “Proper containers are the #1 remedy of organizing. If they’re clear so that you can see what’s in them, and clearly labeled, you know what you have and where it is.”

Concentrate on Clutter Corners

Besides the kitchen counter, most organizing experts identify hall closets and the front hallway as classic clutter accumulation spots. “The hall closet is usually a horror,” says Jacobs.

Start by getting everything off the floor. When your closet is clogged, things start to accumulate on the floor. Sort these items in your boxes or bags.

Then, hang a canvas hanging shelf on one side of your closet rod. It’s cheaper and easier than buying a closet organizing system. Here, you’ll place all the accessories you need for the time of year: gloves and hats and scarves in winter, baseball caps and sunscreen and water bottles in summer.

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