Looking to downsize your clutter quotient?
Here are 25 tips from Nancy McGarity, owner of Real Solutions For Living in Canal Fulton, Ohio:
¢ Have a home for every item.
¢ Always return items to their homes.
¢ Store items where they're needed most.
¢ Keep frequently used items in very accessible spaces and seldom-used items in places that are harder to reach.
¢ Consider your habits when deciding where something should belong. That will make it easier for you to maintain your system.
¢ Label shelves, containers (especially opaque ones), drawers, etc. to make it easy for anyone - even a visitor - to find and put away items.
¢ Choose containers that appeal to you, so you will be more apt to use them. Dress up boring containers, such as shoe boxes, with fabric, wrapping paper, leftover wallpaper or the like.
¢ Instead of bringing home more containers that may actually add to your clutter, consider reusing items around the house, such as decorative baskets, shoe boxes and coffee cans, for your organizing needs.
¢ Define and measure what you need before buying any organizational systems.
¢ Think realistically about items you are keeping "just in case" or because "someday I might need it." That "someday" rarely comes. Remove all those items, and stop yourself from accumulating more.
¢ Get duplicates of items that you use in more than one area of the home, such as scissors, tape, pens and calculators. Store them in the various places they're needed.
¢ Don't believe you haven't the time to get organized. The time involved in searching for lost things or redoing tasks is always greater and creates unnecessary stress.
¢ Take a few seconds to hang up clothes or put them into the laundry basket at the end of the day. It will save time that would be spent later on scooping up the piles, sorting, ironing and relaundering.
¢ Let go of questionable items. They only add to your clutter until you decide.
¢ Teach children to put things away when they're done with them. This helps them develop organizing skills before undesirable habits develop.
¢ Don't make a habit of picking up after older kids. That only encourages them to rely on you to do their dirty work.
¢ Explain to other members of your household or workplace where things now belong, and tell them you expect things to be kept as they find them.
¢ Sort mail as soon as you walk in the door.
¢ Pitch junk mail immediately.
¢ Toss everything that's outdated, such as prescriptions, newspapers, catalogs and coupons.
¢ When deciding on a major or needed purchase, ask yourself whether the item will enhance and support your goals. Buy only if it does and it fits your budget.
¢ Impulse buying thwarts organizing efforts. Remember that even if an item is on sale, you'll save even more money, time and space by not buying it.
¢ Re-evaluate closets, drawers and other storage areas periodically so they remain organized and chaos-free.
¢ Envision life without clutter. How does that make you feel? Keep that always in your mind to keep you motivated.
¢ Be faithful to your commitment to simplify and organize. Don't betray yourself by failing to follow through on your new organizing systems.