As I type this out, I first want to state that our home is not the picture of organizational perfection. There’s junk mail stacked in various places and baskets of laundry waiting to be folded.
And don’t even open the door to my husband’s office. Thank you.
I am no Marie Kondo, and though I admire her approach, that entire system probably wouldn’t work for me.
But I do seriously appreciate the art and practice of decluttering. Research shows that dealing with too much physical stuff at home can lead to more stress.
Think of how stressful it is when you are racing to get out the door on time, and you are digging through piles of clean laundry to find a matching pair of socks (yep. guilty).
When your environment has less stuff, it feels more organized, tidier, and less stressful to be around.
And here’s the great thing about editing clutter out of your life: There’s no wrong way to do it. Just start.
So while I am no decluttering expert, here are some simple ways to make more room in your home for the things that matter most.
Stop Buying More Stuff
This one is hard for most people, including me, but one way to keep clutter out of your life is to stop bringing it home.
To clarify, at least in my book, this doesn’t apply to things that you need, like food, and health and (even) beauty products. Unless you keep adding loads of junk food to your grocery bill, and you buy every skincare fad that passes through your Instagram feed.
This tip is more about thinking long and hard before purchasing something that is more of a “want” versus a “need.”
Do you really need another piece of fast fashion, when you already have several similar items in your closet? Probably not, so empty your Amazon cart.
Does your kid really need another Little People playset, or do they have plenty of toys to keep them busy for the next year?
Not only does not buying stuff reduce clutter, it’s good for your wallet and a more sustainable way of living.
Edit Your Wardrobe Frequently
Once a season, I organize my clothing and transition some of my seasonal pieces back to storage.
This is a great time to take inventory of anything that you haven’t worn in a long time. When you come across an item like this, ask yourself: “If I had an occasion to wear this to, would I be excited to wear it?” If the answer is yes, next ask yourself, “Will I ever have that kind of occasion in the near future?” (Yes, I even mean the post-covid future, when hopefully you will have a place to wear that fabulous dress).
If the answer to either question is “No,” then add it to the “get rid of” pile.
It can be easy to make excuses as to why you want to keep something.
“But that Lilly Pulitzer halter dress has such a funky print and it also cost an arm and a leg.”
But it’s also does not fit and I won’t be going anywhere tropical any time soon.
Or you may feel nostalgic when it comes to specific items. But be realistic. Will you really wear those five inch heels from your bachelorette party again?
Be honest about your clothing, and if you can’t see yourself realistically wearing something again, it’s time to donate, sell (hello Poshmark), or repurpose it for the rag pile.
And remember, only donate items that are in excellent condition, and do your research before you drop your items off. You may think your gently used sweater is going to charity, but that often isn’t the case, and it may even end up in a landfill.
My advice: stick with a local charity whose mission you know well, and your donations are more likely to reach those that need them the most.
Do a Load (or Two) of Laundry Every Day.
Since we are on the topic of clothing, that reminds me of one of my biggest clutter culprits: laundry.
First of all, I detest doing laundry. But, having all your clothes in the hamper is no fun either, and creates piles of dirty laundry (i.e. more clutter). Clean laundry is a must in my book.
I am usually pretty good about the washing and drying part. It’s the folding and putting away that gets me. If I’m not careful, I end up with four baskets of unfolded clean clothes, all just sitting there and cluttering up our bedroom.
And no idea where to find a pair of matching socks among them.
If this sounds familiar to you, here’s what I recommend: tackle 1 – 2 loads of laundry every single day, from start to finish. Sounds intense, but here’s a few tips to make it an easy habit.
Set a simple, flexible laundry schedule. For example, on Mondays and Tuesdays, you could wash adult clothes, and then leave the kids clothes for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The weekend days would typically be towels and linens.
Again, this is flexible, so if you end up washing kids clothes on adult clothing day, don’t fret.
To make this process work, make it a habit to take each load of laundry from dirty to clean, folded, and put away the same day you wash it.
We adopted this method over the last month, and it’s worked quite nicely. I would much rather spend only ten minutes at a time folding laundry than an hour or more getting through multiple baskets at once.
And it makes finding matching socks so much easier too.
Simplify Your Home Decor
When I was in my early twenties and finally had my own (studio) apartment to call home, I went all out on decorating. Call it the HomeGoods effect, but I was intent on making it look like a picture straight out of Real Simple.
Ok, so I went a little overboard on the tchotchkes. I thought that every sunburst mirror or bowl of decorative spheres would complete my late-aughts apartment.
Several years and moves later, many of these decorations have also found new homes.
When we first moved to our house, my various tabletop decorations found a place, and I even bought new ones. But when our daughter started crawling and we suddenly had to babyproof the house, most of these went into storage.
And you know what? I really don’t miss my tchotchkes. There’s less to dust, and it’s easier to keep the house tidy. Everything just looks more put together.
I’ve found other ways to add personal style throughout our home. Throw pillows (with removable covers) are perfect for this: both easy to clean and durable. Your walls are also the perfect blank canvas for artwork and personal photos.
This is not to say that flat surfaces have to be devoid of all objects. You just need to choose what makes you the happiest. Not to get all Marie Kondo on you, but think about what “sparks joy” the most.
For us, it’s framed pictures of our family. Some candles. And a cookie jar in the shape of a peacock. I mean, what more could your home need?
How have you tackled your clutter? Share your tips in the comments.