Beat Clutter in Less Than Five Minutes

   By divinecaroline  Feb 02, 2011

It’s a Secret of Adulthood: for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. I agree that, in the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet or a messy desk shouldn’t much matter. Nevertheless, I’ve found that getting control of clutter gives me a disproportionate boost in happiness, and other people seem to feel the same way.

Having a clutter-filled home makes me feel overwhelmed. Everywhere I look, I see little chores that should be done. No one task is particularly difficult, but together, they add up to a big headache and a big jumble. Pretty soon, it’s easier just to add to the piles than to try to attack the problem. That’s another Secret of Adulthood: tidy areas tend to stay tidy, and messy areas tend to get messier.

Here are ten easy, quick tips that, if followed regularly, will help keep your clutter under control. And none of them takes more than five minutes?if that. I mostly follow these, and I’m a lot happier when I do.

1. Make your bed.

2. Get rid of the newspaper each night, even if you haven’t read it yet. Or am I the only one still reading a paper newspaper?

3. Follow the “one-minute rule”?push yourself to do any chore that takes less than one minute. Throw away the junk mail, put the peanut-butter jar back in the cabinet, close the cabinet door, put your dirty socks in the hamper, hang up your wet towel.

4. Identify a place or person to whom you can give things you no longer need?it’s much easier to get rid of unneeded stuff if you can envision someone else getting good use from them. Also, figure out a place to store those things until you hand them over. We have a special shelf for books that we’re taking to the Housing Works thrift store.

5. Be very cautious about letting yourself “store” something. Storing something means you don’t intend to use it much. Other than holiday decorations and seasonal clothes, you should strive to “store” as little as possible.

6. Beware of freebies. Never accept anything free, unless you’re thrilled with it. A mug, a tote bag, a hand-me-down toy, the lamp from your mother-in-law?if you don’t need it, don’t take it.

7. Get rid of things if they break. When I went through our apartment, I was astonished by how many things I’d kept even though they didn’t work.

8. Don’t keep any piece of paper unless you know that you actually need it. I have a friend who, for years, carefully filed away the stubs when she paid her gas bill. “Why?” I asked, mystified. “I have no idea,” she said. Along the same lines, don’t keep anything that would quickly become dated?like travel information. Remember the Internet! If you can easily find information online, you don’t need to keep a hard copy.

9. Hang up your coat. I have a lot of trouble with this one, so now I use a hook instead of a hanger.

10. Before you go to bed, take five minutes to do an “evening tidy-up.” Don’t tackle anything ambitious, but just stack up the magazines, put your shoes away, shove the chairs into place, etc. Just a few minutes of tidying can make your house look a lot better, and it’s a calming thing to do before going to sleep. Plus, it makes the morning nicer.

What are some other quick, easy tricks you’ve found to make your life more clutter-free? Again, I realize that this issue seems fairly trivial, but it does seem to be a source of low-grade irritation for a lot of people.


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musicmomma by musicmomma | LONG VALLEY, NJ
Apr 10, 2011

Love these rules. These are really great basic things I need to remember on a daily basis. Thanks

melsplace by melsplace | Oak Park, IL
Feb 24, 2011

This is great info. I strive to do most of these things all the time. So, I'm pretty organized from time to time I will keep magazines from a year ago for the articles. Working on minimizing that right now! keep the article in a binder instead. Thanks Carmella

vbchjewel by vbchjewel | CHESAPEAKE, VA
Feb 18, 2011

I saw something on OWN in which the organizer said to put clothes in your closet with the hanger hanging backwards. As you wear it, turn it front way. If in 6 months you hadn't turned it around the right way because you haven't worn it, it is time to think about giving it to a charity.

twoboymom by twoboymom | Egg Harbor, NJ
Feb 03, 2011

I think these ideas are fantastic and use a majority of them, however....I need to find a way for it to be as clever in the minds of my children, that way I am not doing the one and five minute fix its until I go to bed.

basilandcatnip by basilandcatnip | GARLAND, TX
Feb 02, 2011

I use a plastic fold flat basket. I put it in the front seat/floor of my car as I run errands and put everything in it, then carry it into the house. The next morning I fold it flat again and put it in the trunk of my car until I need it again.

MadHatter by MadHatter | Whitestone , NY
Feb 02, 2011

Geez i need to follow some of these rules! but juggling work and school? that is a little tough. sometimes i used the 1. close your eyes and throw it away. or 2. if you don't remember it, you wouldn't need it even if you found it one day LOL