Clearing the Clutter
Clearing the Clutter
Strategies to Find More Space and Peace
by Margarita M. Cossuto
Decluttering the home is a good way to improve overall well-being. Being in a space that is clutter-free can have tremendous emotional and psychological effects. And in the process of focusing on your home, you are also focusing on yourself. Taking time to organize your home and manage the clutter can bring about many positive benefits, such as reducing stress, saving time down the road, and bringing a sense of relaxation and peace. Here are some steps you can take to keep clutter from accumulating in your home and establishing an organizational system that works for you.
Visualize Your Space
First, take a few moments to imagine how you want your space to look and feel. Really take some time to visualize every detail, from the layout of furniture in each room, to the placement and types of items. How does your space look? Is it clutter free? Is it relaxing? Use this exercise to guide you in creating a space in your home that will contribute positively to your well-being. Doing this exercise will not only help you tune into how you feel in each room, but it will also give you a goal to work toward.
Start to Declutter
The first step to accomplishing anything is to just start the process. The key to not getting overwhelmed when organizing is patience. Don’t worry how long it will take you or how messy your space will look along the way. Keep your focus on how great your space will look once you’re done. Simply begin the organizing process by sorting the items you have by category, putting like items together. This step applies to organizing a drawer, closet or any cluttered space. For example, if you’re organizing a closet, start by putting all your pants together. With any items that you’re organizing, you can ask yourself questions that will help direct you while decluttering your home. “If I came across this item now in the store, would I buy it?” “How does this item make me feel?”
As you declutter, you will have to make decisions on your items. Most will fall into one of three categories: keep, toss or donate. Keep items that you use regularly, need, and like and enjoy. Toss items are that damaged beyond repair or expired. Add to this category any items that can be recycled. Donate items that still have life in them but you haven’t used in a long time, and no longer need or like. Keep a donation box in your home that you add to as you go about your days. If while putting away clothes you see a shirt you no longer wear or like, put it in the donation box. If while looking for a pot or pan you see a kitchen gadget you have never used, put the gadget in the box. Ask yourself why you are keeping an item. This question gives you a chance to think about what you use the item for, when you last used it, if you will use it again, and if you still like it.
Keeping a space organized can be one of the most challenging tasks. Busy days lead to busy homes; there never seems to be enough time in a day to get everything done. But there are some simple maintenance tips that can help. Use the Only Handle It Once (OHIO) organizational principle. When dealing with items in your home, only handle or touch the item once so that you can get it off your mind and free up mental energy for more important things. Think about this next time you open postal mail. Sort it immediately into a pile of bills to be paid, papers to shred/recycle, or mail that needs further attention later. Or when cleaning up dishes after dinner – put them into the dishwasher immediately instead of piling everything into the sink. Of course, the OHIO rule doesn’t work for everything, but hopefully, it will prompt you to think next time you’re holding an item.
To avoid clutter from accumulating in your home, establish an organizational system that works for you. Focusing on these steps can help you organize your home the way you want it to look and feel. Keep in mind how great your space will look once you’ve completed your tasks, and how refreshed you and your space will feel!
Margarita M. Cossuto, PhD, is a professional organizer and owner of Living Organized, LLC. She applies her background in psychology to understand the unique needs of her clients in Connecticut and New York. Connect at 203-451-7880 or LivingOrganized.com.