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10 Ways to Cut Clutter in Your Home

Mired in mess, fuss, and disarray? These quick hints for home organization can help you de-clutter fast.
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10 Tips for Organizing Your Home continued...

Hold off on container shopping. Clutter victims often think the solution is to stock up on organizing products, so they head to the nearest superstore and stock up on bins and boxes. Big mistake. "People love to go out and buy containers, but getting organized does not start out with a shopping trip," says Robertson. She recommends shopping for storage items only after you've done some de-cluttering -- to understand the scope of the problem, the specific cause, and an appropriate solution. 

Dump duplicates. Why have two nonstick spatulas when one is enough? Why have six hairbrushes or 17 coffee mugs? Lowenheim says that throwing out duplicates is one of the easiest ways to quell clutter. Her simple rule: One in, one out. "Anytime you get something new, get rid of something like it that is old," she says. Or, as Robertson puts it, "Before you bring home that big new flat-screen TV, figure out what you're going to do with the TV you already have." 

Beware nostalgia. If you're a doting parent, it's not easy to discard a child's creation, whether it's pastel drawings from the second grade or that cooler-sized medieval castle. But if you're serious about minimizing clutter, you must. Robertson recommends taking a picture of your child with the creation, and letting that be your keepsake. "After all," she says, "what would you rather have in 30 years -- a photo of that castle, or the mouse-infested castle itself?" Of course, if your child creates something truly special, you'll want to keep it, maybe even display it in your home.

Weed out your wardrobe. Odds are your clothes closet is chockablock with clothes that are rarely worn. Lowenheim says it's a case of the familiar 80:20 rule: we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. She recommends sorting through your clothes, and your children's, at the end of each season. Does a particular garment no longer fit, or maybe it's uncomfortable? Toss it into a box. Then take the box to a favorite charity or a consignment store. And don't hold onto things because you think you might need them someday. One key to de-cluttering is getting rid of things, not simply rearranging them. Tidying up is not the same as organizing.

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