If you’ve ever had the chance to do a major declutter and organization of your home, you know how it feels. We’ve had clients actually cry in joy when they come home and see everything in it’s place once they’ve gone through the process and see how they can live in peace.
Organizational psychologists (yes, they exist) have noted the negative affect clutter and disorganization can have on your mental wellbeing and even your relationships.
The daily frustrations can drive you up the wall and not only bother yourself but your partner. Do the same silly arguments over misplaced keys sound familiar?!
So where do you start? Here are our Top 10 decluttering resources and tips!
1. Make your storage smaller
Yes you read correctly. Sometimes the worst thing you can have it too much storage space. You’ll only just fill it up. Take a look at anyone who has a garage. Do you think they actually put their car in there? They can’t, because it’s full of stuff.
2. When you shop, make a list
This will help you stop buying junk that you don’t need. Do you really need another set of coffee mugs? If you really feel like buying something for your home, earn it first – get rid of something that would be replaced by what you are buying. Wine glasses are the exception…we break them faster that we can replace them so have an extra set so you’re not caught short!
3. For Kids – One Open Shelf
I stopped subscribing to the idea of rotating toys. Did your kids ever say “Hey Mom, can I play with that 6th set of Polly Pockets that you put away last month?” Chances are, they did not.
Donate duplicates, throw away anything that’s broken or missing pieces and keep the toy repertoire to one large shelf.
We bought a fantastic Ikea Expedit shelf. We also allow one box in the kids rooms for their own stuff. Other than that, they don’t make the cut.
They also have two boxes for books. Much easier for kids to put them away compared to a shelf. Beware of large baskets for toys….it’s too tempting to throw everything in there and they become all mixed up.
4. Love thy Rubbermaid
We live and die by Rubbermaid containers. Do yourself a favour, go to Canadian Tire or Zellers and buy 8-10 large containers of exactly the same style and a Sharpie marker. Mark them as follows:
Sports Gear – Summer
Sports Gear – Winter
Winter/Summer Clothes – one per person
…and if you have kids…
Clothes (to hand down or donate) – divide by age if needed (0-1, 2-4)
You are allowed to have more boxes but only if you really really need them!
5. Clean it up or lose it fast
This may be a bit dramatic but those of you with kids will appreciate this one. We have a very simple rule in our house. If you can’t clean it up, it goes in the garbage.
We have a special ‘garbage bag’ and they know garbage day is once a week so they do have the chance to earn it back with good behavior. If not, I usually hang on to it for a bit and donate it, especially if it’s battery operated item that makes noise. They tend to be more careful with the really cool stuff anyway.
6. Home Files & Mail
If you do not have a home office, get a large file box from Staples and create files for your mail. We have one labeled as follows:
Taxes – one for each person
Kids File – one for each child (current school newsletters, copies of immunization and health cards)
Bills to be paid (if you do it once a month)
To Review (if you can’t deal with it right away)
7. Top and Bottom
Keep a small basket at the top of your stairs and at the bottom. That way if you have things to move from one floor to another you don’t have a pile of junk at the end of both stairs. And don’t forget to tell your family that the reason they exist is to actually pick them up and move them to the next floor to be put away.
8. Drawers and Cupboards
Dump them out, clean, sort. In junk drawers or the kitchen, ziplock everything to keep them contained…pens, batteries, paperclips etc. For clothing drawers…moms, if you still have bras from before you had kids, throw them out and stop kidding yourself. They will never be the same.
Only keep items in your closet that are in season. Then sort by category (pants, tops – dressy vs. casual, sweaters) and then by colour. I always love going on vacation because getting dressed is so much easier. I’m a bit more limited as to what I have to choose from.
10. Prevention is the Best Medicine – The 10 Minute Clean Up
Every night I do a clean up where everything goes back where it belongs, the kitchen is clean, dishwasher is on and closets are somewhat organized. You sleep better, have better mornings and I find I yell a LOT less in the morning.
If you are having major challenges getting motivated and started, and just feel plain overwhelmed, check out these sites for more ideas and small weekly tasks that are completely manageable. Or plan one day to tear the house apart and book a massage as your reward at the end of it (and pray you actually finished in time).
Here are 3 overall guides followed by a some great online resources for specific ideas and projects!
Good luck and may the organizing force be with you!