In dealing with clutter, it's important to remember that personality, environment and work style play a part not only in how clutter accumulates but how it is controlled. As a result, no single solution can be applied to every situation. However, experts stress that it's important to think in terms of "being organized" not "getting organized." In other words, getting things under control is only half the battle; maintenance is the other half [source: National Association of Professional Organizers].
While the clutter spectrum runs from moderate to extreme, basic methods can be employed to get the problem under control. First, identify your goal. Do you want to be able to open the front door or are you just looking for a way to organize the kids' toys? With a goal in mind, give yourself further motivation by visualizing what the space will look like clutter-free.
Whether your goal is to de-clutter a desk or an entire house, tackle one manageable area at a time, such as the top of the desk or one room. Follow these steps for sorting through clutter:
- Find an open place to sort. For some it may be a table or the floor, and for others it may be the front yard.
- Put everything into one of three categories: keep, donate and toss.
- After you see the uncluttered space, re-sort the "keep" pile to determine if there's anything else to eliminate.
[source: Absolutely Organized]
Sorting through clutter requires a lot of self-evaluation. If you're on the fence about which pile something should land in, ask yourself the following questions:
- How long have I lived with it without using it?
- Is keeping it worth making the space?
- Does it fit into my lifestyle today?
For those people who find parting with their treasures a difficult task, donating them to charity can make the process less painful. Knowing that their things are going to a good home makes it easier to say "goodbye."
Professional organizers agree the key to clutter control is to have a place for everything and then to use it. To be effective, the place must be convenient and hold similar items. For example, it's more likely that family members will hang up their coats if the coat closet or hooks are near the door they use to enter the house.
Living within your space also helps to keep clutter under control. Before you acquire new things, consider how you'll use them and where you'll store them. If your sock drawer is overflowing, don't buy new socks until you get rid of some of the old ones.
The methods for clutter control are easier with the proper tools. In the next section, you'll discover tools to help reign in your clutter; and the good news is that some of these things won't take up any space.