I’ve partnered with thousands of people across the planet in an effort to help others get organized and find storage solutions that work for them. In the process, I’ve learned that there are 4 common, concrete causes for clutter that can be remedied using simple solutions that leverage storage containers and storage space. Read on for my problem-solution approach to decluttering your home with ease.
Problem 1–Storage Doesn’t Work
Let’s start simple. Your clutter chaos may be, in large part, due to lack of efficient storage space or storage containers. If you have to unlock doors, climb a ladder or move furniture to get to your storage space, you’ll never get organized. Case closed.
Solution 1–Create Easy Access
Instead, make your storage areas accessible. Take inventory of your home. Maybe even look at your floor plan or make a rough sketch. Identify all the storage options in each area of your home and take measurements of closets, cupboards and clothing racks so that you know exactly what you’re working with. Take your measurements and even photographs of your storage space with you to Target or the Container Store to help ensure you purchase the appropriate storage containers for your storage space.
Keep what you use daily within arms reach. This will prevent you from misplacing things or creating more clutter in random places, and also make it easy to access the items you use regularly.
Problem 2–Nothing Has a Home
I’ll admit it; this one drives me a bit bonkers in my own home! When items don’t seem to have an immediate home that makes sense, it’s difficult to maintain order. Hence, the kitchen junk drawer. Amirite? The problem is that you can’t put things away properly if there isn’t an appropriate place to put them. And if there are random items all over the place, it’s unlikely you’ll designate a storage area for those items.
Solution 2–Label Your Storage Containers
Here’s another easy (and fun!) solution that can involve the whole family. First, purchase clear storage containers, bins and jars to store your items. Refer to Solution 1 to make sure you have the right types of storage containers available for your designated storage space.
Assign each item a single forever home. For example, cleaning supplies always go in this cupboard, notebooks always go in this drawer, building blocks always go in this bin, etc. As you move through each area of your home, empower family members to label their own clear storage containers. You can even get creative and establish a color coding system or have your kids decorate their labels. Labeling your storage containers will help you quickly identify where items belong so you can easily access your things when you need them.
Problem 3–Too Much Stuff
Okay, this one’s tough, and requires some brutal honesty on your part. Do you have a ton of stuff? Are you thinking to yourself, how in the world did I accumulate so much stuff? I know, reality check. If your closets, dresser drawers, and shelves are packed and stacked beyond maximum capacity, you likely have too much stuff–which usually equals, clutter.
Solution 3–Lighten Your Load
It’s time for the big purge. This type of organizing often requires working with one room at a time. You will have to let some things go, but I promise you, there is freedom in this. When sorting through a large number of items like this, I always recommend working with a professional organizer, partner or trusted friend–that way you have support and maybe even a little fun in the process.
Start by sorting items into major categories. Later you can organize your items into their appropriate storage containers and larger storage spaces. Differentiate among recyclable trash, garbage and donation items. Rinse and repeat, tackling one room a day or longer depending on what feels doable.
Ask yourself: do I use it, need it or love it? If the answer is yes to any or all three of these questions, you can safely keep the item in question. If it’s a no, even an iffy no, it must go. If the item’s in good condition, you might donate it to Goodwill. Just think about how much someone else would love getting use out of your old treasure.
Problem 4–Organizing is Boring
I realize that you may feel this way, but hear me out. Yes, putting things away every day is a repetitive chore that sometimes feels uninspiring. But as my friend Mary Poppins points out ever so eloquently: in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and snap; the job’s a game!
Solution 4–Gamify Your Decluttering
Tired of boring organizing solutions? Organizing can actually be fun and creative. One of the easiest ways to get organized and have fun in the process is to customize your storage containers based on your personal style or home decor. Again Target, the Container Store and even Poppins.com are some of my favorite places to shop for super fun storage containers.
Miss spending quality time with your fam? You can involve them for added support and family bonding time. Crank up some fun tunes and roll up your sleeves.
A little competitive? You can race to beat the clock or make up your own game where family members can score points or earn rewards for the neatest looking storage space, fastest organization, or most colorful storage containers.
There’s no right or wrong way to organize. You’ve already completed the first crucial step: that is, identifying the cause of your clutter. Clearing storage space and getting organized is the easy part. Decluttering is all about taking repeated actions on a daily basis. Just like chipping away at any large goal, your freedom from clutter comes in bursts of progress that you make each day as you free up shelf space, donate surplus utensils or sort through old photos. You can do this. I believe in you with all my heart.
Did you know? Your clutter has a voice. And what that voice has to say is life changing. Believe it or not, there are psychological reasons and explanations behind why and how we create clutter in our lives.
Watch my TED Talk: Listen to the Monster in Your Closet for personal stories on clutter and it’s underlying secrets!