There is a counter under here somewhere...
In this day and age we all seem to be trying to remember to be a bit more responsible about our consumerism and what we bring into our home. Sometimes things just manage to creep in without our noticing them until you look around and find surfaces in your home covered in everyone's stuff.
You stand there in your house scratching your head muttering "How did that get in here?". It could've been other family members, or maybe it was you, because you just couldn't say no to whoever it was that decided you should have an item they no longer wanted. Even all the emails we receive and print out seem to clutter up the place.
Some simple things to do:
1. Don't put it down, put it away.
If you want clear surfaces then make sure everything has a home. That includes keys, change, mail and bags. Kids art and homework can become an issue, and if you don't have a home for it then it can take over and you'll find it in every room of your home. Printed mail (either mailbox or printed emails) should also have a home, whether its an in tray on your desk or hall table until it can be paid/dealt with or reading and dealing with it straight away.
Which brings me to:
2. Everything has a home.
If it doesn't have a home then you will be forever moving it from one place to the next until you finally get rid of it or lose it and have to buy another. If you are not sure where to put things then stop and think about why you got it in the first place, and why you still need it. If you are going to keep it then think about where you use it and take it to that room. Is it used a lot or just a few times a year? If you are using it constantly then have it somewhere you can get it out easily and put it back. If you use it rarely then it can be at the back behind the most often used items or in a cupboard on a higher shelf out of the way.
3. Like with Like.
So often I go to people's homes and find things randomly put away and then find another of the same thing in a different part of the house. You should go around and find all the like items and put them together, so that everyone can find them and then put them back together in the right place. Even in the pantry, by putting like with like it makes it easier to see what you have and what you need to get.
4. One in One out.
The one in one out rule works really well for things like clothes, toys, books, stationery. If you have limited space don't go out and buy more storage boxes. You'll crowd yourself out because of the toys your kids have or the clothes/shoes in the house. Look at the things you already have and ask yourself - Do I use/wear this? Do the kids need this many toys/books/clothes? Anything that is not the right size or age appropriate should be donated. At this time when so many have lost so much, giving good items for donation can mean a lot to someone going without. This also teaches kids that they don't have to have so much to be happy and that by donating they are helping others.
4. It's a Work in Progress
Decluttering and organising is a work in progress. You can declutter like a fiend and organise everything to the way you live but a year from now if you haven't done anything else then you may find yourself thinking you need to declutter and organise again. Why? It's because we are always changing and we continue bringing things into our home. We need to change our way of thinking when we shop or accept things from others. Ask yourself:
Do I really need this?
Where would I put it?
Do I have the room for it?
Will I need to get rid of something to make room for this?
We also need to think about the packaging it comes in. How do I get rid of the extras? Is it paper, plastic? Is it recyclable? Can I use it for something?
If someone you know asks if you want something they no longer want and you don't need it then it is ok to say no. If they are offended, then they are being selfish and are just too lazy to get rid of it responsibly. Don't fall into that trap. A simple "No thank you" or "thank you for thinking of me but I don't need it" is all you have to say. We never want to hurt someone's feelings by not taking it, but you are hurting you if you bring it into your home and there is nowhere for it or it is useless to you. If you do want it then take it, but remember you have to find it a home and not just leave it near the door until you decide to do something with it.
If it feels like it is too overwhelming to start, just book yourself into your diary or calendar for 15-20 minutes per day at a time you know you will be around to do the work. I have had clients tell me it gets them motivated to actually start a room. Once you get into the swing of things then it becomes a habit and you will then spend the time every day maintaining your home instead of overhauling it.
Don't just do a drawer here or a cupboard there, pick a room and start in one corner. Work your way around the room until you are back where you started. When it comes to paperwork, put it all in a tray or basket and do that as one of your days once the room is finished. Don't leave the room in the time you have allotted yourself. If you have things that need to be in another room, put them in a basket next to the door and take out when you have finished your time. These can then be taken to their rightful place.
If items belong to people who don't live in your home, make sure you give them back their stuff, your home is not a free storage facility.
No matter how big or small your home is, it's about giving yourself the space you want to really live in, not a dumping ground for stuff.