De-Cluttering Debunked

Guest blog by Brooke Stone

Look around. Do you have stuff everywhere? Most people do, don't be embarrassed. Look around again, take it all in. Don't you deserve better? Isn't it time to live and work in spaces that support you, instead of inhibit you? Clutter is not just a mess, it stands directly in the way of personal productivity and peace of mind. And don't you deserve to be productive and have peace of mind?! Yes. Yes, you do. 

Now that we are in agreement, lets get one thing straight. Spring cleaning is a handy fad, but living clutter free is for every season and does not require a Container Store holiday to bring into focus. It all begins with understanding you deserve better for yourself, and internalizing the fact that a visually and practically organized space will afford you the calm you need to work or play. 

Ready? Ok. The first step is to de-clutter your cluttered spaces one by one. Star with your desk, or your living room, it doesn’t matter where you start as long as you do start! Begin by organizing all of the clutter into piles of like items. Toys with toys, papers to file with papers to file, etc. Make a separate pile for things that go other places than the place you are organizing. Throw away all of the trash. 

Now, put away the piles of things that actually live in the space you are organizing, file away the papers, and put the things that go other places, in their other places. Rinse and repeat in each area of your home.

The bad news? This can take a while depending on what you are dealing with, but trust me, it's worth it. The good news? You only have to do this once if you can commit to the maintenance plan coming up next. 

Ok, so your house is now (almost) perfectly de-cluttered and organized. Now, all you have to do to remain committed to living clutter free (remember, you are so worth it!) is spare 10 minutes every night before bed and pick up the debris from the day. 

Do one room at a time, just like round one above. I usually start in the room farthest from my bedroom, and work down the hall with collapsing into bed being the prize for this daily diligence. Pick up the things. Put them where they go. It’s pretty simple, but requires a real dedication to those 10 minutes each night. You can do it though. You are very worth it. Waking up and making your coffee in a de-cluttered kitchen is all the thanks you will need, promise. 

Once you commit to this little plan, a crazy thing starts to happen, beside you being able to actually find the things you need. You begin holding others who use or live in your space more accountable. You know those 10 minutes each night could be 5 if your partner or kids learned to pick up after themselves. You start requiring them to do just that, and are setting a great example by modeling clutter free behaviors. 

Sooner or later, your 10 minutes becomes 5 and your clutter becomes a distant (bad) dream. And, just like most things that stick, building commitment to these new habits begins with the simple reminder that you deserve better and can make it happen for yourself.