6 Quick Tips to Control Clutter

many items on a bed

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida  

Most people have at least a little clutter in their lives. Maybe the mail piles up on your kitchen counter before you have a chance to go through it, or you've acquired boxes of family heirlooms you don't know what to do with. Such clutter can make an entire space feel disorganized and be a mental burden for you. However, decluttering doesn't have to be a long and difficult process. In fact, if you follow some basic guidelines you can quickly pare down some of your clutter with ease.

Here are six decluttering tips that can make the process a snap.

Work in Incremental Steps

No one wants decluttering to be a drawn-out process. But you also shouldn't rush it; this can lead to regret if you quickly get rid of things only to miss them later. Plan to work in strategic incremental steps to declutter thoughtfully and efficiently. For instance, declutter an entire room before moving on to the next room. Or declutter an entire collection, such as all of your clothing, before moving on to another category of items.

Handle Objects Only Once

Curb the tendency to put something aside "for now" when you're decluttering. As you sort through your items, intend only to handle them once. Make a decision about whether you want to keep, give away, sell, or trash the item then and there. Have boxes and bags at the ready for the items that will be leaving your home. And put the items you're keeping in their designated spots.

donation box
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Scale Down Collections

Collections of items can easily turn into clutter and make organization difficult. For instance, maybe you love books and are always acquiring new ones to read. Soon you might find your bookcase is overstuffed, and you're resorting to keeping your books in other random spots around your home. Unless you plan to read every single one of those books, it's probably best to get rid of some. Keep the ones that are special to you and you know you'll read again, and consider donating the rest. You could even make a rule with yourself about your particular collection, such as not acquiring more books than the space you have on one bookcase.

Put Items You're Unsure About in a Box

If you really can't decide whether to get rid of or to keep an item, put it aside in a box for six months. If you don't end up opening the box to use the item within that time, you'll know you can get rid of it without regret. This is a great method for people who tend to acquire a lot of reading materials, craft supplies, or other items they have good intentions about using but never end up doing so. Instead of letting those items become clutter, scrutinize their true value to you by testing whether you'll actually use them.

placing items in a basket
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Toss or Donate Items You've Never Used

Even if you think an item is valuable to you, it's really just clutter if you've never used it. For example, maybe at one point, you acquired a nice set of camping gear, but you never ended up going camping. Or you bought a cookbook that looked interesting, but you never made anything from it. Keep the items that fit your actual lifestyle, not a theoretical one. This might mean getting rid of some nice items, but doing so will allow these items to go to a home where they're actually enjoyed. And you'll enjoy the storage space you free up in the process.

Consider Selling Items

Some clutter is meant for the trash or recycling. But other clutter can easily find a new life in another home. You can donate a wide variety of items to various groups. And with a little effort you might be able to sell some of your items to turn decluttering into a profitable experience. In fact, getting money for items you don't want anymore might be the motivation you need to keep decluttering your home. There are many options to sell your items, including consignment shops, yard sales, and various websites.

clothing and accessories to sell via consignment
The Spruce / Letícia Almeida