Are you intent on streamlining your apartment? Do you find yourself getting too close to pack rat territory with all the clutter you’ve accumulated? Do the piles of magazines, paperwork, photos, and assorted paraphernalia make it hard for you to find anything, and easy to forget what you already own?
That’s because clutter makes you feel overwhelmed. If you don’t know what you HAVE, you can’t begin to know what you have to work with, which leaves you feeling defeated.
You might be wondering if you’ll really feel more clearheaded and energetic if you get rid of things. Absolutely! If you can get past the “I really should hang onto this because you never know when you’ll need it” syndrome, and aspire to keep only the bare necessities, you will be able to come home to a serene abode every day.
Here are some basic steps you can follow for a serenely clutter-free apartment.
1. Keep office supplies in your office
Don’t feel that you must set up a separate inventory of items in each of your bedrooms or rooms. Treat your entire apartment as if it were one big room when it comes to storing your possessions. This’ll work out just fine if you are in a studio, but you can have that everything-is-within-reach feel even if you reside in a three-bedroom apartment. The idea is to set up possessions where you’re most likely to look for them, and to do so in THAT single space, as opposed to setting up one cabinet or drawer in one room and another one in another area. Why? Simple. This’ll force you to keep less than you otherwise would.
2. Declutter in manageable chunks of time
Don’t have time to declutter? Look at it in manageable chunks. Today, do the living room. Tonight, start on the kitchen if you have a free half hour or so. Tackle the bathroom tomorrow and the hallway closets the day after that. But you absolutely do have the time. And no, you can’t watch TV while you’re decluttering. You have to focus your attention on the process or you’ll make “off” decisions, and eventually be disappointed in the results. But if you concentrate on the task at hand this time around, you may never have to declutter again!
3. Invest in heavy-duty trash bags
Before you attempt the decluttering process, arm yourself with five or six huge and tough garbage bags. Warning: the dollar store bags won’t hold the amount of stuff you plan to dispose. Splurge on a name brand this one time.
4. Keep some mementos—but not all
When you get to the mementos, keep in mind that you will encounter a few items which you positively don’t want to discard. So be it. Move on to the others. However, you might wish to keep in mind the fact that the photos, gifts, and personal possessions that remind you of a certain someone or moment in time create more of an effect when kept to a minimum. See how you feel about limiting your mementos and keepsakes to three per person or event.
5. Donate cast-offs as soon as possible
Donate! Find a worthy charity and see if they’ll pick up from your home the unwanted items. The sooner the better—out of sight, out of mind! You’ll be less likely to sort through the items one last time…just to make sure…
6. Less stuff = less time cleaning
Need motivation? Remind yourself that the less you have in your house, the less you’ll have to clean…and that includes dusting! There are some people who keep knicknacks that don’t mean much to them—only to spend precious time keeping the dust away. Lessen your work load.
7. Use furniture to store what you do keep
Keep or buy furniture that stores stuff. Great pieces to have include storage ottomans, dressers, and night stands. Anything you use regularly that has the added bonus of drawers, storage areas, and hidden shelves is worth space in your home.
8. Maintain the cleanliness
Finally, when you’re done decluttering, promise yourself that you won’t let the dishes pile up after meals, and you won’t bring the mail in only to set it down on a table and walk away. When you go shopping, evaluate your purchases to make sure you’re not buying a duplicate of what you already have, and question if you truly even need the item. Remember that the more things you have, the greater the opportunity for clutter, and the greater the threat to your serenity.