Take Control of Clutter

Reclaim Your Space in 5 Simple Steps

If there’s one small positive to living in these uncertain times, it’s the fact that many of us now have an unprecedented amount of time at home on our hands. For some, this naturally leads to a strong desire to clean and organize. Decluttering not only makes a space simply feel better, it makes us feel better too. Cleaning and clearing our space gives us a sense of control over our environment, which is vital in a world where it seems much is out of our control.

But it can be overwhelming to start, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Clutter is a sneaky thing. Before you know it, a couple pieces of mail have turned into a towering pile, your kid's stuffed animals have magically reproduced, and wait, didn't you just clean the garage last month?

If you feel suffocated by 'stuff' and completely overwhelmed at the thought of dealing with it, only for it to creep back into your life as soon as your turn your back, you’re not alone. Check out our five foolproof steps for decluttering your home and start taking back your space.

1: Not So Fast

You might think the first step of decluttering is to buy all the storage bins, boxes, and drawer dividers you think you’ll ever need. Slow down! This step comes later in the process and not without some thoughtful prep ahead of time. First, set yourself up for success before you dig in. Set goals for what you want to achieve, and really visualize how your home will feel when it’s complete. Otherwise, you’ll lose your gusto and be stuck with a half-finished job.

Schedule time in your calendar specifically for decluttering, whether you plan on working for several hours or just 20 minutes a day until you reach your goal. This will keep you accountable and ensure that you get started. After all, like the saying goes, clutter is really just delayed decisions.

Decluttering can be messy, so make sure you have supplies to keep chaos in check, such as large trash bags and boxes for setting aside items you plan to donate.


2: Work in Categories, Not Rooms

Organizing room by room seems like a logical approach, but decluttering expert extraordinaire Marie Kondo advises against it. She's based her entire organizational methodology on the idea of working through categories first.

Rather than starting in one room and only moving on to the next once it's finished, begin instead with a category - clothing for example. This way you won't have to confront a new closet full of clothes each time you move from bedroom to bedroom, because you will have organized the entire category in one fell swoop.

Break large categories (like clothing) down into smaller groups to avoid overwhelming yourself. Coats and jackets, seasonal wear and accessories can each be their own category.

Still not sure where to begin? Start with whatever area bothers you the most. Cluttered bathroom cabinets? Mountains of mismatched shoes? Select one item or area and stick with it until you've cleared the whole category.

 3: Love It, Use It, or Lose It

Once you've settled on where to start, it's time to get real with yourself. As you move through each item, ask, yourself: “Do I love it?” “Do I use it?” If not, you know what to do. Say goodbye. Take to heart William Morris' famous quote: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." 

Everyone knows it can be hardest of all to let go of sentimental items. Professional Organizer Monica Friel recommends taking a picture of the sentimental item and going one step further by writing down its history and significance. This special record of your memories will be much more significant and valuable to you than a pile of things you don't use or have space for.

While you’re sifting through sentimental items, you will no doubt encounter old photos. You’re likely to have at least one box stuffed with loose photos somewhere in a closet or under the bed that you don’t want to get rid of but certainly don’t have time to scrapbook or put into photo albums either. Enter the IRIS photo keeper - 16 BPA-free, acid-free cases capable of holding 100 photos each. Sort, store, and check ‘organize photos’ off your list.

One more tip: wait until you’ve gathered up all the photos that may be scattered throughout the house before sitting down to organize. You may have so many that this could be a separate project all on its own.


4: Shop for Storage

Now that you’ve successfully figured out what to keep and what to set free, it’s time to find the storage products you need. Almost! First analyze your space and ask yourself how you need it to function. What is your goal for the space? Have you envisioned what you want it to look like and how it can best work for you?

For example, do you have more shoes than clothes in your closet? Is your dream garage a streamlined space with a home for every last tool and toy? Create a system that meets your needs, then take measurements to ensure your storage bins and boxes are a perfect fit.

IRIS offers storage solutions for every inch of your home, from ultra-rugged utility totes to stackable shoeboxes designed to store both heels and flats. 

 5: Keep It Up!

Nothing beats the feeling of a freshly decluttered space. You can breathe easier, you feel more energetic and motivated, and you're positive that you'll always keep it in tip-top shape from here on out. Wishful thinking? Not quite. It's entirely possible. The key is to make it part of your everyday life.

Decluttering shouldn’t be a monumental chore you complete just once, or even once-a-year, or once a quarantine. Let’s hope not, anyway. Make a plan and work it into your week. Whether you continue to schedule regular decluttering sessions in your calendar, make rules such as "one in, one out" when it comes to adding new clothes to your closet, or creating a system for mail as soon as you bring it inside, having even a simple plan in place is the best way to conquer clutter once and for all