It has been said that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, but how much “treasure” can our homes hold? Over time, keepsakes and everyday items accumulate and become clutter, taking up valuable living space. Nineteenth-century philosopher Henry David Thoreau has urged us to “simplify, simplify,” and failure to do so when it comes to home organization will eventually result in living environments reminiscent of what you may see on an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive. The de-cluttering process may be a daunting task, but think about the time you could save by organizing your home. Here are eight surefire ways (according to each room in your home) to help you manage and refresh space effectively no matter where you live: Tennessee, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas.
There are countless items in the kitchen we have collected through the years that end up not being used at all. If you’re not sure what you use and what you don’t, a true way to find out is to gather all utensils and cooking gadgets into a cardboard box. For one or two months, put all the items you have used into a drawer. All the items that remain in that initial cardboard box are underutilized and you’ll have to reevaluate if you should hang onto them, or pass them along to charity. Sure, there are those items we use once in a blue moon for baking or for a specific purpose, and those items should be stored away, making room for things that are used more often.
For longer-term storage, this is the perfect place to store those seasonal items, such as sporting equipment and holiday décor. A common mistake is that people store these items with no consideration to organization or labels, which makes it more difficult to sort through when you do decide to utilize these items. Labeling boxes, bins, and containers so that items can be instantly located is a great way to keep things in their place rather than having random stuff pile up.
Some of us have stocked up medicine cabinets with plenty of personal care products but this isn’t always a good thing. All personal care products and medicines have an expiration date, which should be purged once in a while. A good rule of thumb is that most makeup goes bad after six months; the closer the product is used to the eyes, the shorter the lifespan. Go through all your vanity products and medicines and get rid of those products that have hardened, softened, changed colors, or expired.
A common culprit of cluttered home offices is massive buildups of paperwork. If you are uncomfortable with discarding or shredding some past paid bills, or need to keep them for your records, make sure they are organized and take up little space. For example, filing away documents in expanding files, or investing in a digital scanner and filing system, is a great way to transform paper documents into a more accessible electronic form. Twelve-month expanding files are also very useful when it comes to deciding which bill receipt you should throw or shred. When you pay for bills, like say in January, place them in the January section for a year later. If you haven’t even looked at the document, you probably don’t need it.
You probably own a lot of clothes you never wear, or no longer have use for. Use this system to determine which clothes you should toss or donate: for six months or so, turn all the clothes in your closet facing back-to-front. When you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the right way. If you try it on but don’t end up wearing it; make sure you put it back with the hanger still facing backwards. Chances are, you’re going to discover you own lots of clothes you don’t wear often or at all. Store away clothes you wear on rare occasions, or donate them. It’s better that someone else finds use for them.
Excess movies, books, and old gaming systems tend to sit and gather dust. We keep certain items because of the sentimental value, so here’s a surefire way to compromise, using the ratio-reduction rule of thumb. For every four or five items or old DVDs you decide to keep, remove one you could do without. This sort-and-purge process seems to work well if you can increase the ration to, say, three-to-one, which will really clear up some space for new possessions. This goes for old magazines, knickknacks, and toys.
Children’s Rooms or Common Play Areas
Rooms frequented by little kids are typically clutter-intense zones, but you can help them keep toys and play items organized by designating some “clear zones.” Sort items and store according to a specific activity like painting, reading, and studying, with labels for each area of use. When you involve your kids in this sorting process, they will be able to identify and keep up with where everything should go in the future.
We all have that cabinet or closet for our cleaning supplies, dusting items, and general disinfectants, but if they’re all piled up, it’s hard to tell which products are old or for what use. You can sort out all your cleaning products by using vertical space for storage, leaving more floor space. A good shelving system should do the trick to help stow the items you use on a regular basis. Keep in mind that just because you have space, it doesn’t mean you should overcrowd it.