If you do not have a nightstand, first: get a night stand. It is one of the most useful pieces of furniture you will own, and it takes up so little room. Even owning a very small, narrow night table will improve the organization and functionality of your bedroom. On the nightstand, place a lamp, and your alarm clock or smartphone that wakes you up each morning.
Simply having those two things there will improve your bedtime routine.
(If you already have this setup and think, imagine having to get out of bed and turn the light off, then get back in when you are ready to go to sleep. Ugh.)
On top of that, a nightstand can help you keep your bedroom clutter-free.
1. Toss or Keep?
First, do the usual toss or keep for any items you no longer want, use or love. It's time to Kondo your nightstand. Take everything off of your nightstand (or 'night table', if you prefer) and out of its drawers or shelves and create piles:
Move to its proper storage place
Trash or recycle the toss pile (see: What to Toss or Keep, set the keep pile aside, and then deal with the third pile.
There is problem a lot of items in that third pile because the nightstand is a true breeding ground of clutter. It's often the only extra storage in a bedroom (since you keep clothes in your closet, dresser or bureau), so people tend to through random odds and ends into the nightstand because there is simply no place else for it.
That's fine, to an extent, but it means you need to go through and declutter this space regularly and have very strict parameters about what is displayed on the top of your nightstand.
Because anything on the top of the nightstand if the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you see before you go to sleep.
2. Store Your Keepers
So... anything that can be moved into a drawer, should be moved into a drawer. This is where you deal with your Keep Pile.
If you are worried about drawer clutter, or your nightstand drawer becoming a junk drawer (and hey, if properly organized, a junk drawer isn't so bad) , then invest in some drawer dividers. If you have always thought that drawer dividers were a waste, start using them and you'll see their purpose. They make everything easier to find and they make a pile of "stuff" looks really neat and tidy.
3. Keep the Nightstand Clear
Now place anything you use every single night before you go to sleep and anything you reach for as soon as you wake up on the nightstand.
The extra added benefit of decluttering the top of the nightstand is that you no longer have to look for these items the first thing in the morning. Really think about what you want on the top of the nightstand. If you keep a stack of books that you are not reading as decor, remember that every night and every morning you will be reminded of how many books you are not reading. If this what you want? Instead keep only the book you are currently reading on your nightstand. Do you use tissues often?
Keep a box of tissues, but clear the used ones off your nightstand daily.
4. Finally, Add Storage Solutions
A small, decorative tray to hold your watch, eyeglasses, and earrings if chic and practical. In general here are the three things that need to be on every nightstand:
Small tray for glasses,watches, etc.,
A box of tissues; and,
A small lamp.
Then add in your own touches. If you use your smartphone as an alarm clock, you may not need an alarm clock. Maybe you use a white noise machine or an essential oil diffuser. Just make sure all of the cords and plugs aren't creating a cluttered look by fastening them to a leg of the nightstand.
5. Maintain It by Decluttering Regularly
Have everything you need handy, and make it as attractive as possible. Don't add in a lot of extraneous stuff! If you like to have candles in your bedroom, keep one out and store the rest.
If you like to have a glass of water near your bed, remove the glass daily so it is not sitting there just collecting dust. You only need one glass.
If you do lack storage space in your bedroom, choose a nightstand with a lot of drawers and use those for storage, but have a very defined idea of what is going into each drawer to avoid clutter.