30 minutes to a clutter-free house
Clutter takes up valuable space. Spend just 30 minutes controlling the mess, and you just might discover newly organized space you never knew you had. Apply these basic rules — they’ll help you get started and achieve organization quickly.
Tools of the trade
Gather your decluttering supplies. You’ll need a dust cloth, timer, garbage bag and boxes labeled “donate” and “put away.”
Pick an area
Choose a “clutter hotspot,” such as a dining-room table, kitchen island, desk or other catch-all area. Set your timer for 30 minutes and start throwing away unwanted items. Evaluate every item based on its current condition rather than its potential. For example, even if a broken teacup can be repaired, toss it into the trash bin. Dispose of stained or ripped clothing and games or toys missing pieces.
Next, move anything that doesn’t belong in the area to the put-away box and anything you don’t need into the donate box. If you can’t decide whether to donate an item, ask yourself these questions:
- Why am I keeping this? Is it sentimental or handmade?
- When was the last time I used this?
- Do I already have something similar?
- Can I buy another one later if I find that I truly need one?
- Would someone else benefit from this more than I?
A place for everything
When you’re finished sorting, move the items in the put-away box to their proper homes. If you can’t find places for everything, evaluate what’s left to see if there’s a common theme. For example:
- Organize miscellaneous papers. Purchase a portable file tote or use an old folder to keep all paperwork centrally located.
- Store sentimental items. Buy a pretty, inexpensive storage box — it’ll help protect photos, cards and other keepsakes.
- Designate a desk drawer for office supplies. Give all pens and markers the scribble test and toss any that are dried out.
When the timer sounds, you’re done for the day. You’ll be amazed at what you’re able to do in just 30 minutes, and you’ll be inspired by the clean, empty spaces. Move on to another hotspot tomorrow — before you know it, closets, counters and cabinets will be clutter-free.
Once the hotspots are under control, maintaining a clutter-free home is a snap. Start a new donate box and drop it off at a charitable organization each time it fills up. Make a quick daily pass through the house with a laundry basket, picking up and putting away items as you go. Make your daily decluttering even easier:
- Adopt the “one in, one out” rule for all household items. If you bring something new in, something else goes out.
- Empower the whole family. Designate a put-away box for each member of the household.
- Sort mail before bringing it inside. Use a marker to black out your name and address on junk mail and catalogs, then pitch them into the recycling bin.
Once you’ve decluttered your house, relax and enjoy more family time.