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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.

10 Tips for Organizing Your Home continued...

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.

 

Look for simple clutter control solutions. Often, there's an easy solution to even stubborn clutter problems. "One of my clients could never remember where she put her keys," says Laura Leist, a professional organizer in Seattle, and president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. "I suggested that she put a hook by the front door, so she could hang her keys up every time she walked in the door. And it worked." Leist is also a fan of lazy Susan turntables for organizing pantries or laundry rooms, can risers, drawer dividers, and bins and baskets to group items in bathrooms and linen closets. To add storage space in a crowded room, consider adding a shelf just below the ceiling. Overrun with CDs? Take them out of their jewel boxes and store them in a CD binder.

 

Think home organization "kits." Buy some clear plastic shoebox-sized containers, and use them to create kits where you store all the items you need for a particular task. For instance, you could create a shoeshine kit, a bill-paying kit, a manicure kit, and so on. That way, you can easily find everything you need to accomplish everyday tasks.

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