Unclutter Your Home

Do you have too much clutter in your home? According to organizational expert Donna Otto in her book, Secrets to Getting More Done in Less Time, most house plans designate about 18% of its space for active storage, but due to poor organizational skills, many people use up to 35% of their square footage for storage. We have so much stuff — and keep it in improper places — that we stumble over it, create a fire hazard, and have difficulty finding things.

So how to we take charge of the clutter in our homes? Otto suggests utilizing an easy storage system.

1. Gather the Mess. Your home organization project won’t be completed in one afternoon. So don’t set yourself up for procrastination by telling yourself the project is just too large. Break it up into pieces. Your first step will be to collect the clutter that you either no longer need or want to store. You may find it will take you one Saturday afternoon just to go through the clutter of one room or one closet. Don’t focus on the length of the project, but on thoroughness. Take the time to determine what you need, what you don’t, and what can be put away for later. Otto suggests using three bags or boxes for each room — one for trash, one for charity give-away or a yard sale, and one for storage and put-aways (items that need to returned to their proper place in the house).

2. Create a Storage System. Once you have cleared the clutter and have returned frequently used items to their rightful places, you can begin working on a storage system. Otto’s system involves using identical, plain cardboard boxes (15x12x10), although you may prefer plastic tubs. She then labels them using numbers and letters, with a log describing the contents of each box. For example, the box labeled #10 may include your first daughter’s school memories. If you find she has enough papers, awards and memory books to fill more than one box, begin using the letters (i.e. 10-A and 10-B). The trick is to associate each number with a separate storage subject.

As you are storing your items, create a detailed inventory of each box, either on 3×5 notecards or on the computer. And be sure to note where each box is stored, whether it is the attic, a closet or the garage.

3. Maximizing Your Space. Once you have uncluttered your living space, make the most of arranging items you are not storing. As your budget allows, invest in some organizational hardware. You can find helpful storage bins, shelving units, drawer dividers, garage pegboards and bedroom closet systems at your local home improvement store. Check out a book or magazine on home organization for more space-saving ideas.

While the process may not go as quickly as you hope, consistently spending time managing your clutter will create a more enjoyable living space and will save you time in the future as you search for needed items.

This article is based on the book, Secrets to Getting More Done in Less Time, by Donna Otto.