As a Professional Organizer, I deal with people’s clutter daily. Over time, I have discovered that most of the clutter found in any given home is things that should have left home but failed to do so. We’ll call it junk. If you are overwhelmed by clutter, show junk its way out.
Although junk includes trash, it also includes anything that does not serve us anymore, regardless of the item’s condition. How long waste stays in the home depends on the routines and procedures we follow (or fail to) in handling our belongings.
Those routines determine how cluttered our environment remains. Thus, consistently following specific practices and learning different habits can remove most clutter and help us maintain the space in much better shape.
Handle The Trash
Have a good-sized trashcan (13 gal.) and a recycling bin in the kitchen. To be functional, these need to be out in the open. Getting matching trashcan and recycling bins (or dual-purpose units) is a good idea. Square or rectangular shapes are best because these save space and configure better to the areas.
Relying on the latest grocery bag hanging on a doorknob to discard your trash or an 8-gal trashcan in a corner to collect recycling might be an economical alternative. Still, it creates more obstacles than benefits and is not conducive to a cleaner kitchen. So instead, invest in good quality tools that make life easier.
Sort The Mail
Have another trashcan and recycle bin set where you sort mail if this place differs from the kitchen. This process goes hand in hand with having an effective mail processing system.
Add Trashcans Everywhere
It is easier to dispose of trash when there is a place to do so while we handle that waste. Therefore, place a trashcan in every room in the home. The amount of actual trash removed from homes while decluttering is astonishing. Garbage goes on the floor, under the bed, on the counter, and everywhere else when we don’t have accessible trashcans. During the weekly cleaning day, take all trash out.
Pay attention to when and how you experience the feeling that something no longer has a place in your life or your home. This feeling could be subtle as an energetic discrepancy in your body or noticeable, like clothing that does not fit. That’s the moment when you need to act. So take that thing out of your space. NOW.
Handle Packages Immediately
When receiving a package, open the box and remove the contents. If keeping it, remove the outer and inner packaging and tags. Take the item to where it is used or stored. Then, trash or recycle all packaging. Do not let those boxes and protective packaging material roll around your home for weeks.
Every Time You Come Home
Every time you come home, especially when you bring bags of any kind, open that bag and remove its contents. Take everything where it belongs. Then, trash, recycle, or fold bags to reuse if desired. This process takes a few minutes, but it is better to employ seven minutes each day than suffer a panic attack when you realize you can’t deal with the clutter.
If anything can go anywhere, then everything will go anywhere. So you want to have control of your environment. Every single day, with consistency, is how you achieve that.
When you decide something is for donation, take it out of the house and place it in your car. Then, place a note on your windshield or seat to remind you to stop by the donation center when you go out next. This practice might sound silly, but it won’t when you see how effective this method is.
Deal with Broken Things
Upon identifying an item that needs repair, put that item in a particular place dedicated to this purpose. Assign a monthly date in your calendar for repairs. Take the basket, bag, or bin with you on that day and take care of them.
Send Stuff Away
If you see something that you should have/could have/would like to send someone, prepare the package at that moment. If this is impossible, place the item where it bothers you enough that you will notice it and remember it. Then, include a reminder in the calendar for later that day to prepare that package. Once the box is ready, please put it in your car immediately to be shipped.
Take It Out NOW!
The point is to TAKE THAT THING OUT OF YOUR SPACE NOW. Some things need to wait. For those, prepare a labeled area in your home to place them. As you put something in that area, calendar the action or reminder to address the issue.
Is the item too big to move, or is the action something cumbersome you cannot handle now? You can always calendar these things. You deal with the issue the moment you decide about it. By placing a reminder or an action in the calendar, these things will be out of your head – clearing your mental clutter as well.
Refrain from entertaining trash, junk, and other people’s treasures in your home. Your home is living space, not storage space or a dump.