Clean Up Your Act: 10 Ways to De-Clutter Your Home and Your Lifestyle

It’s a simple fact of life: sometimes things happen, we get behind and that small pile of dishes is suddenly overtaking the entire counter and the coffee from three days ago started growing a forest. A small system of organization would make life 10 times simpler with little to no effort. Here are a few tips I’ve used personally to help remove some of the clutter from my life.

1. Sink Duty.

It’s easy to let the dishes get piled up, you’re busy- there are things to do, places to go and people to see; but no one wants to see those dirty dishes. For those of us graced with a dishwasher; this is a bit easier. Go ahead and rinse each dish right away and put it into the dishwasher as you go about your daily business. Make it a point to do the dishes after dinner especially. It doesn’t take that much extra effort to put the dish into the dishwasher versus just leaving it in the sink.

For those of us without a dishwasher, I use the 10 dish rule. If there are more than 10 dishes in the sink, then it’s time to wash them. Just make sure to use the water sparingly. You don’t need the faucet running while you’re busy scrubbing away at a burnt-on pan.

2. Keys, Keys, Keys.

As do many I know, I’m always misplacing my keys. They’re always lost and with my fiance and I having two separate sets of keys and only one set of car keys – we’re constantly switching keys back and forth between us. The solution was simple: we purchased a small decorative key holder and placed it by the door. The keys are hung there every time someone comes in so that way they are there whenever someone goes out.

3. Minimize.

I have a hard time committing myself to cleaning an entire room in one day; especially when things have gotten seriously out of hand. Minimize your cleaning tasks and divide things into groups. Clean the coffee table and the end tables one day, and table the kitchen table the next. It will help lighten your daily work load and get you into better habits.

4. Junk Mail

I hate junk mail, and more importantly I hate that I get the same piece of junk mail from the same company multiple times a month, and sometimes multiple times a week. When you’re coming in from getting the mail, head to the trash (or recycling bin) and throw out anything you don’t need, right away. Even if you don’t read your mail that day, you won’t have to sift through the junk to find it at a later date.

5. Broken, Dying, Or Non-Existent Electronics.

Computer monitors that are failing, remotes to TVs you no longer own, old PDAs and VCRs that just don’t get used anymore – these are things that are wasting space in your place.

Plain and simple: dump them. While it may make sense to keep a spare keyboard on hand for your computer, it doesn’t make sense to keep more than one. Check out your local electronic stores and see what they offer for recycling old electronics. Apple offers recycling for all of their old products and many other companies do the same.

6. Calendar.

While it sounds easy enough, having a large calendar in your kitchen or office will help you plan things out more accordingly. It may take some extra effort to write everything down; but in the long run having things written out for you in perfect view will help benefit you in the long run. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy: try a dry-erase calendar; you’ll use less paper and it will still do the job.

7. Set Goals.

If you’re doing your spring cleaning a bit early- or late; then set some goals. Any extra junk you have that’s lying around should be tossed. If you can’t bear to part with it, consider this: when is the last time you actually used the object in question, and how often do you use it? If the answer is none in the last 6 months or more – chances are that in a week you won’t even realize you tossed it to begin with, or remember that you had it.

8. Lists.

Go ahead and put your refrigerator to good use. Hang shopping lists, to-do lists, grocery lists and more on the front. Every time you’re in the kitchen you’ll be reminded- and hey, maybe it’ll help your memory!

9. Tupperware, Storage, And Labels.

When you’re storing things, try color coding or labeling or better yet, use clear containers so that you can see what’s inside. If you’re going to store things like Christmas decorations, try using red or green tubs; for Halloween use black or orange, etc. This is really easy to do because WalMart offers different colored tubs year round in the appropriate season color for fairly cheap ($6.00-$10.00.) If this isn’t enough for you, grab some masking tape and write the contents onto it. You’ll help yourself out in the long run when you’re not searching through 10 different boxes labeled “Misc.”

10. Aim For Quality.

While it sounds easy enough, quality products can and will run you a pretty penny and these days many people can’t afford it. Try to keep in mind that things of better quality will last longer than those cheaper (and cheaply made) items. Things like clothing, furniture or even cooking items like pots and pans will last longer if you invest in quality products. You’ll spend more money at first but save in the long run when you don’t have to keep replacing those flimsy $5.00 pots and pans you bought at WalMart.

When reorganizing and de-cluttering your life, try not to overwhelm yourself. Becoming organized isn’t an overnight thing and shouldn’t be taken too seriously or too lightly. Take things slowly, do one at a time and you’ll help improve your life and your family’s life over time.

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