"Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination." — Christina Scalise.Are you tired of feeling like your stuff has taken over your home? Like no matter how much you clean and organize, the clutter just doesn't seem to go away? If so, you're not alone. Like millions of others across the nation, you've realized it is time to declutter your home.

Annually, Americans spend $1.2 trillion on goods and services they don't need, leading to a build-up of 300,000 items in the average American home. Whether you seek a more minimalistic lifestyle or simply want to tidy up your home, decluttering can do wonders for the mind. Reclaim your space and put an end to clutter!

Start small

No need to overwhelm yourself. Build up momentum by spending 5 to 10 minutes a day decluttering. Then, create small, achievable goals. Start by giving away one item a day. As you get into the declutter groove, make your goals more impactful in terms of the desired result. For instance, if you have a lot of clothes, pack a box a day to donate until only your most-worn items remain.

Millennial man organizing his book collections Kemal Yildirim / Getty Images


Create a checklist

When you have a visual guide for what you need to accomplish, overwhelming tasks become more manageable. To declutter, create a "read-do" checklist, which works like a recipe. You complete one task after another so that you can accomplish a specific outcome. In this case, you may focus on one room or group of items at a time. Today, you may target pots and pans, followed tomorrow by your books.

Cropped shot of an unrecognizable woman checking off boxes on her to-do list LaylaBird / Getty Images


Start with one space

Pick one space in which to begin your decluttering journey. The goal is to spearhead decluttering that space to gain momentum as you tackle the rest of your house. Has your pantry been driving you crazy? Does your junk drawer haunt your thoughts? Has your laundry room spun out of control? Whatever area begs for your attention, focus solely on that space. Choose an area that will provide you with instant gratification.

Young housewife preparing for cleaning clutter at home. Slavica / Getty Images


Set a timeline

Think of your timeline as a plan — where will you start and when. How you set up your plan will depend on what works best for you.

  • Create a map of your home and label clutter hotspots to help you prioritize
  • Grade each space in your home based on the severity of clutter
  • Focus on one room or area at a time
  • Assign completion dates for these areas
  • Plan for extended time slots to tackle areas that will take longer, such as your garage or basement

closeup of a young man carrying a pile of different folded clothes nito100 / Getty Images


Develop a Sorting System

As you go through items, you'll need somewhere to put them. This is why you should develop a strategic sorting system. Feel free to use your own method or try out the popular three-box method. Gather three large boxes or storage bins and sort your items as follows.

  • Keep — These are the items you use in your everyday life. Once this box is full, find a more permanent home for each item. Ideally, these items will have a designated place in a drawer, closet, or cabinet. The goal here is to get organized.
  • Get rid of — These are all the items you will donate, recycle, or throw away. As you begin to collect these items, move them out of your home. Put donations in your car, ready to transport them to their new home.
  • Store — These are items you want to keep but do not necessarily need daily, such as seasonal or sentimental items.

Stack of old clothes to discard (declutter) or keep. Recycle clothes, eco cotton. Andrii Zastrozhnov / Getty Images


Target your clothing

If your closet needs to be decluttered, ask yourself some simple questions as you sift through each item. Do you love it? Do you wear it? Does it fit? As you answer these questions, have a box ready to donate. That will make purging your closet that much easier. If you're feeling overwhelmed, commit to a weekly clutter sweep. If you spend 15 minutes twice a week in your closet, you'll reclaim that valuable space in no time.

Woman folding laundry and clothes on the floor in bedroom, organizing laundry in boxes and baskets. Concept of minimalist lifestyle and japanese t shirt folding system. Konmari method Damian Lugowski / Getty Images


Create new habits

Consciously develop new, more productive habits. When items have a home, it's easier to keep things in order. So, if you take something out, put it back where it belongs. If an area starts to get crowded, minimize that space before it gets out of control. Creating new habits takes time, but if you do it over and over again, one day, it'll just click.

Wardrobe storage system. Clean up clothes with konmari method (Marie Kondo). Clothes neatly folded in bedroom Damian Lugowski / Getty Images


Maximize your space

Have room under the bed? Take advantage of this storage opportunity. Do you have vertical space you're not taking advantage of? Add some shelves to store items that aren't used often, such as seldom-used kitchen appliances. Also, maximize your counter space. Whether it's in the kitchen or bathroom, clearing your cluttered countertops can make a space look much more neat and organized. Find a home for the items that once sat on the counter and, if need be, leverage the sorting system discussed above.

Woman working at home, cleaning the floors, washing the laundry and cleaning up the mess in the closet during quarantine Drazen_ / Getty Images


Say goodbye to paper clutter

Do you have flyers, old magazines, and catalogs hanging around for no reason? It's time to recycle them. Old bills can go through a shredder, and all excess cardboard in your home should go straight into your recycling bin. Paper and cardboard have a tendency to pile up, so if you're looking for a small task, this is a great place to start.

Paper Holder. Chaos. Color Image claudio.arnese / Getty Images


Be realistic

Organizing and decluttering take time. Before you take on too much, be realistic about the time and energy a specific project will take. Don't pull everything out, only to shove it all back into your closet when you need to do something else. You'll be worse off than you were when you started. Life gets in the way — so always tackle projects in small chunks.

A mature woman smiles as she carries boxes of belongings to sort through whilst in lockdown at home. SolStock / Getty Images


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