When it comes to clearing out the mess, many of us fear we'll need to commit a significant block of time to finish the job. Not so, counters Donna Smallin, professional organizer and author of The One-Minute Organizer: 500 Tips for Getting Your Life in Order. "Set a simple goal—one shelf, one drawer at a time," Smallin says. "Just 15 minutes a day adds up to seven hours each month." Keep reading for actionable clutter-clearing tips.
Set up clutter collectors where items naturally tend to gather, like a bowl on a table for keys and loose change, a set of tiered baskets for mail and school paperwork, a coat tree or wall hooks for outerwear and backpacks. Place a basket or shoe rack near the door to hold shoes.
Related: 11 Things to Keep by the Front Door
Store remote controls in a decorative basket, box or tin on a shelf when not using them. Establish a house rule to place newspapers into the recycling bin at the end of each day, whether they've been read or not, and collect magazines at the end of every month. If you're in the market for a new coffee table, choose a design that can double as storage space.
Related: 10 Coffee Tables for Under $150
Clear everything from the kitchen countertops and put back only what you use at least twice a week. Store everything else in cabinets, drawers, and the pantry. Place items that you infrequently need, such as mixers, juicers, or ice cream makers, in more out-of-the-way areas.
Remove all items from every drawer to see what has been stuffed inside. Throw away expired coupons and other trash, and put back only the stuff you need in the kitchen. Store items close to where you use them: utensils near the stove, food storage wraps near the refrigerator, and silverware near the dishwasher or table.
Designate certain shelves or areas of your refrigerator for storing leftovers to increase the likelihood that they won't be forgotten. Label and date all leftover containers (keep labels and markers handy). Corral similar items, such as snacks or condiment jars, in a large plastic container that you easily can pull forward.
Clear your desktop and put back only what you use daily. Create a main storage area for office supplies in a drawer, cabinet, or closet near your workspace. Avoid placing folders or papers directly onto your desk unless you are physically working on them.
Take everything off the bathroom counter, excluding the soap and anything else that absolutely must remain out, and store it in cabinets and drawers. Take advantage of cabinet and drawer dividers to neatly arrange the bathroom clutter. Place daily toiletries in handled baskets or bags for easy storage and retrieval.
Toss expired prescriptions, over-the-counter products, and old makeup and toiletries that are wasting space inside your medicine cabinet. Use a cabinet organization system for storing the remaining items in an orderly way that allows room for new items. For information on safely discarding old medicines, contact your local pharmacy.
Starting at one end of your closet, work your way across and remove any items that don't fit, don't make you feel good when wearing them, or you haven't worn in the past year. Donate them now and enjoy the extra space in your closet. If you're not comfortable doing that, store them with your out-of-season clothes and reconsider donating them later when you see them again in six months.
Kids' Craft Tables
Consolidate art supplies in a box or basket that can be stored away when not being used. To organize papers and your children's artwork, pick up a few large, clean pizza boxes and store them under a bed. Frame favorite pieces to decorate kids' rooms, replacing older art with newer creations every now and then. When it's time to recycle, take photos of your children with their artwork or school projects and put them in an album and let go of the physical items.
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