Where Do I Start?

Three quick ways to control the clutter

Is your house cluttered? If you answered "are you kidding?" you're not alone. I have what I call a horizontal filing system--stacks of papers, magazines, photos, lists, and catalogs that cover almost every table and countertop in my house. It's a constant battle, and it's one I wage in minutes stolen between naps, meals, and play. If you're not sure where to start in your home, try one of these quick ways to battle the clutter.

Start with the smallest pile
Sometimes clearing away just one small corner can make you feel like you're regaining control. Bask in the feeling of accomplishment you get by being able to see your kitchen countertop again! And build on each small success--try not to let the clutter creep into spaces you've reclaimed.

Start with the area that bothers you the most
Is that growing mound of newspapers driving you nuts? Are you unsure of what bills need to be paid because they're hiding in a pile of junk mail? Tackling one area that really bothers you can make you feel much better about the clutter that's left.

Start with the room you spend the most time in
The more time you spend in a room, the more likely clutter will gather there too. But the good news is, you'll also have plenty of opportunities for quick attacks on piles of magazines, books, toys, and laundry.

Remember, it doesn't really matter where you start--just start somewhere! And be ruthless! Recycle newspapers daily. Toss out magazines and catalogs you haven't looked at in a month. Put important papers and receipts in one pile and then file them away later. Best yet, don't even let that junk mail in the house--recycle it on your way from the mail box.

Before you know it, those stolen moments can add up to a less cluttered and, more importantly, a more comfortable home.

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Amy Guzules is a technical editor and lives in San Jose, CA with her husband Bill, and daughters Madeline (1997) and Sophie (1999).


dlgrn95's picture

Just looking for new ways to get started dejunking and organizing my whole home. I know using a partner would help but I am stubborn and wish to do it myself. So, here goes another try. DLGRN95

Rooney's picture

there is a fun scavenger hunt to help learn to declutter at www.flylady.net
15 minutes a day. Give it a whirl...has made a HUGE difference in my life. Just do one area/cabinet/drawer a day...
A child enters your home and makes so much noise you can hardly stand it--then departs, leaving the house so quiet you think you'll go mad. -Dr. J.A. Holmes

kalstudent's picture

HELP!!!! I am a full time student and mother of two small children. My husband is in construction and is rarely home to do much of anything. My house is a mess and I spend more time cleaning up a space to do anything than cleaning my house. Any ideas where to start?

lgunnoe's picture

...though my daughters are old enough to help. My hubby travels a bit, but he pitches in when he can.

I'm a firm believer in:
Lower your expectations!
Fix what bothers you the most
Keep your public spaces company-acceptable (as best you can)
Never go anywhere with out taking something that needs put away
Be ruthless about getting rid (completely!)of as much as you can

"...if woman's work is never done, why bother about how much of it [isn't] getting done at any given moment?"
~ Claire Fraser in The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

kalstudent's picture

great tip I use. Take pictures! Any horrible thing you want to get rid of that was a present or some other excuse Take a Picture then give it away or get rid of it. I have the same problem with junk. This is the only way to get it out of my life. Now if I can just get the paper out I would be in heaven

timoneydunlap's picture

I am on day 7 of FlyLady's babysteps and I am already beginning to feel a little bit more undercontrol... go check out her site and then join us FlyBabies in the Forum....

expecting twins, and trying to get control of life before the chaos begins!!

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