10 Ways To Reduce Clutter And Clean Up Your Act.


I am a big believer in clearing out clutter in order to manage my life. Having everything in it’s place and organized allows me to concentrate 100% on the rest of my life; my wife, my work, my friends, my hobbies. If I lived in clutter I would never be able to stop thinking about it and it would hinder every aspect of my life. Where are my keys? Where are the bills? Where did I hide my social security card? Some people really thrive on being “cluttered” but it would drive me crazy; call it OCD or whatever but I could not deal! If you are looking for some ways to get organized and to get your stuff in order, here are 10 things that have helped me to get and stay organize. They also help me save money because I do not have to buy products that I already have but cannot find!

1. Have a place for everything – this means your keys, your wallet, your office supplies, etc. If everything has it’s place, it’s pretty hard to lose anything once you learn where that place is. My files are in the file cabinet, my keys hang by the door, and my wallet goes on the little table in the hall. There is no mad scramble to get out the door as I know where everything is!
2. When you bring one thing home, try to send at least one thing out the door. Buy a new shirt? Try to get rid of an old shirt at the same time. If all you do is bring stuff home and you never purge, you will never be able to beat back clutter.
3. Boxes, boxes, boxes – I am a huge fan of storage in the house. Even if you have tons of crap, having it in boxes makes it look and feel more manageable. However, I don’t pay for storage – I use shoe boxes, shipping boxes, etc. Why not use the free stuff instead of spending money on the plastic versions?
4. Craigslist, Ebay and Amazon are your friends – Sell, sell, sell. Books, CD’s, DVD’s, clothes, televisions, you name it – if you have it, someone else is willing to pay for it.
5. Purge twice a year – Make it a point to spend a day or two twice a year doing nothing but purging. Normally I end up doing this myself, but it would go faster if my wife wanted to play along. But then again, I am the one with the “issue” of being so OCD.
6. Put stuff away in storage until you need it. I am not talking about paid storage, which I do not believe in, but rather your garage or some place like that. Your Christmas supplies do not need to be stored in your closet in the house if you do not have the room for it…it’s going to be 11 months before you need them again!
7. Start small. If you have trouble because you are overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” in your home, try doing just 10 minutes a day of purging. This is the system I have my mom on now – she spends a few minutes each day just doing a single pile or filling up 1 trash bag and taking it downstairs. It makes the process way more manageable and less scary.
8. Unsubscribe from magazines, catalogs, etc. – Catalogs you do no need because you can look at any of those products online on the internet, and magazines are available for free from the library. How many times do you read a single magazine? More than likely only once, so why pay for it and then have it hang around your house? If you can get it from the library, it will only be in your house for 2 weeks…and it’s free!
9. When you buy a product, buy a multi-function version. A coffee maker that both grinds the beans and makes the coffee. A remote control that runs your TV and your stereo. A blender that is also a food processor. By combining these type of goods, you can reduce the amount of “stuff” you have to find a place for.
10. Make lists. I have 1 small notebook that I have with me at all times, so I can jot down notes, story ideas, stuff I need to get done at home, etc. If you write it down when you think of it, you are more likely to follow through on whatever it is. So make lists – like what you will accomplish around the house next Tuesday, reminders to go to Goodwill and drop off your clothes, or just to file away or shred the paper in your inbox. Lists are an immense help to anyone having trouble with clutter.

Hopefully these tips will serve as a boost and incentive to get organized. I know it is not directly related to personal finance, but I believe being organized and clutter-free can only help your finances as you will tend to stay on top of the situation a little better. If you have any additional tips to add, be sure to let me know!

photo by hassan abdel-rahman

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Comments (24)

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  1. Emily says:

    Great post! Twice a year LOL I purge twice a month. I guess I’m OCD too 🙂

  2. david says:

    I had a feeling Emily as I read through your site. Isn’t it great? 🙂

  3. PT says:

    My wife will love this and will most likely be moved to go on a clutter-free weekend rampage.

    Clean house=clean mind, I say!

  4. Mrs Pillars says:

    I had to laugh about this. Just yesterday I bought a four-pack of toothpaste and imagine my dismay when I looked in the medicine cabinet and saw three there already. I’m not entirely a lost cause though. I do love making lists and I do try to put my purging chores into bite-sized pieces.

  5. david says:

    Glad I could help PT!

    And Mrs Pillars, that is pretty funny!

  6. Mrs. Micah says:

    I just cleaned the apartment, which makes me feel so good. But I know I could live with less than we have. I just like being able to access books and I don’t want to get rid of my fabric stash. I’m working on stash-busing, though, which is a way to get rid of it by using it up. 🙂

  7. Debbie M says:

    Here are some hints that help me:

    * Remember that I don’t have to throw things away; I can find a better home for them. Also remember that I don’t have to find a better home; it’s okay to just throw things away.
    * Remember that my house is not a museum; I do not need to own everything cool.
    * Remember that my house is not a storage unit. As one of my friends says, “stores” store things for you. (Also, rental places. And libraries.) So I do not need to save things just because they might one day come in handy. If I get rid of 100 things and have to re-buy 1 of them, I’m still better off than if I had kept it all.
    * Remember that things change, especially me. Things I liked or used in the past are not necessarily things I want today.

    Another good hint I’ve heard is to ask yourself, when considering a specific possession, whether you would take this home from a yard sale today. If not, that’s a clue that you should get rid of it.

    A good technique is to take everything out of a room, a closet, a dresser, or whatever you’re working on, starting with a clean slate. Think what should be in there, what you need and like, and put that in. The rest needs a new home. (This method can make it easier to re-think things, and seeing a place totally empty and clean can remind you how nice it is not to have it all stuffed with things, but just having the things you actually use, easily available.)

    And a new one for me, now that I’m going to try harder to keep all my stuff in good shape: don’t own things that I don’t love or use enough not to mind lovingly dusting and maintaining it on a regular basis.

  8. david says:

    Thanks for the additional tips everyone!

    What is stash-busing Mrs Micah?

  9. LJ says:

    awesome ideas!
    I need to do some de-cluttering. The problem for me is I keep my clutter so neatly organized, nobody knows it’s clutter! 😉

    Take Care


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  11. K says:

    re: # 9 –

    Be careful with that one. We bought a combination TV/VCR several years ago. The VCR part clunked out earlier. To take it to be repaired required taking the FULL unit…not just the VCR obviously. The VCR part continued to have issues. I used to always service our VCRs myself but this one was harder to get into as it was part of a unit. (It was eating tapes constantly.) It also cost more to get serviced than a reg VCR. The TV part still worked great. We finally just gave it away.

  12. david says:

    Very true K – but do they still make VCR’s? 😉

    But yes, something to keep in mind, for sure!

  13. Damsel says:

    I LOVE cleaning out the house and decluttering… I usually do it twice a year, too — Spring Break and right before school starts back in August (I’m a teacher). It seems to be the right time especially to go through clothes – during the spring, I clear out winter clothes that I didn’t wear, and in August I clear out summer clothes I didn’t wear. Also, I go through my son’s room twice a year — right before Christmas and right before his birthday in June!

    I’m a little OCD, too. I can’t work if the space around me is in disarray.

  14. Tom says:

    Another great way I found when it comes to clutter is to throw away that item ASAP if you don’t think you’ll be using in the future. I’ve found myself contemplating so many times when it comes to particular items. It would have been so helpful just to pitch it when I had the chance.

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  22. Ed says:

    These are some good ways, but I think we have to do it more often or we will have stuff up to the roof. We normally have to go from one end of the house to the other about twice a month, either boxing things up, or throwing them away. This never ends if you want to stay organized.

  23. Julie says:

    I am having such a hard time getting a handle
    Of our clutter I feel overwhelmed at timed
    Thanks for the tips

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