Clutter bugs me. Physical clutter and random items scattered around my house make me feel like my mind is cluttered as well.
The ironic thing is things get messier at home the busier I am and the more things I am working on. This is because I don’t have as much time to tidy up and work on all the little things.
The thing with clutter is that it always starts small when we’re in a hurry and have no time to put something in its right place. All too soon, it balloons into a huge pile of items that can no longer be ignored and instead of taking five minutes to put away, takes five hours, or even five days.
This is not limited to adults. If anything, children’s rooms are worse. Toys, art materials, instruction manuals, socks, books and toy parts seem to have a life of their own.
While most of our home can stay relatively clutter-free for some time after each “decluttering” session, the kids’ rooms seem to be a magnet for it.
For almost a year, I’ve been keeping screen shots of cute DIY projects to contain the random items (hanging clear accessory packs for art materials, wrapped and painted shoe boxes for small items like Legos and doll accessories, etc…); but over the weekend, I realized that having containers was not enough because things would eventually overflow again.
I realized what I needed to do was get started and more important, how to get rid of clutter and prevent it from coming back. Never mind the artsy compartments.
I came across awesome tips that I plan to start applying.
Start with 5 minutes a day
Rather than wait for a day when you have the whole afternoon to clean and sort, start right now with five minutes. Make it a daily habit for you and your child to spend at least five minutes filing, clearing out and putting things where they belong.
You may not see much results or progress, but it’s a start and if you continue it every day, soon, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve cleared out!
Work on one area at a time
We all have this image of a perfect Pottery Barn catalogue-worthy children’s room. But organizing and clearing out a whole room will take time that many of us do not have.
Break down the room or area you want to clean into doable sections. Start with a table top.
When you and your child are done with the table tops, move on to one shelf at a time in a bookshelf. You don’t have to get the whole thing done in one go, just one at a time.
But here’s the catch—whatever space or area you have successfully cleared, must remain clear forever! Okay, fine, not forever, but for as long as you can keep it that way.
Continue expanding that clear area until you are done with the whole room and soon, the house!
Create a 30-day list
I love this one. As I mentioned, the problem with putting things away is the tendency to accumulate new things that end up with no place.
Regardless of how much clever compartments you can make or cabinets you clean out, if you keep bringing home new things, there will never be enough space.
This is especially true for children and their never-ending list of things they “need.” According to www.zenhabits.net, every time you, or your child, think of buying something that is not actually necessary, jot it down on a list and put the date.
Wait one month before you consider buying the item. By then, you will have either forgotten all about it or realized you didn’t need or truly want it.
This will save you not just space but money as well, not to mention teach your children the value of waiting and delineating necessities from frivolous desires.
Use it or lose it
Be ruthless as you clear out shelves, cabinets and closets, and you will no doubt come across items that have never been used or are no longer a necessity.
Whether it be baby gear, books, clothes, toys or household items, if they are no longer useful, put them in a box and give them to friends, family or a charitable institution.
You can also try having a garage sale or putting them up for sale through online websites.
But it is easier said than done to get rid of things especially if you have a sentimental streak.
Try having a separate box where you can put things you are unsure of. When it is full, put it away and put an alarm in your phone calendar to bring it out after six months. If you didn’t look for it throughout those six months then clearly, you don’t need anything in it.
Create a filing system and use it
School announcements, calendar of activities, doctor’s prescriptions, party invitations, art works, certificates, the list just goes on! Put those together with bills, receipts, e-mails, tickets, work files and other documents and you will find yourself faced with a stack of sheets that will cover your whole desk.
Often times, all we really need is a simple filing system. Don’t bother with too many specific folders or fancy systems. Get whatever works for you such as an “inbox/outbox” tray or folders with labels and get started filing necessary documents, receipts, etc. … or putting things in a “To-Do” folder.
Give yourself a deadline for emptying out the “To-Do” folder. The rest can go to your trash can.
For children’s important documents, I bought each child a regular clearbook from the bookstore. I saw my godfather do this for his family. It’s such a simple idea but works so well.
Each child’s clearbook holds all important documents such as NSO copy of the birth certificate, original baptismal certificate, photocopy of passport details and other important papers.