Interior Resolutions: Start the Year Clutter Free

By Desi Creswell, Tastemaker in Residence 


It’s almost time to ring in 2015 which has me thinking about goals and commitments for the coming year. While the results of holiday indulging lead many to a resolution related to losing a few pounds, what if you resolved to start the year off with less stuff? As you declutter your home or organize your office, not only do you get to clean up and create more space, you also clear your mind of all the stress that comes with it. 

Are you ready to get organized but don’t know where to start? In Julie Morgenstern’s article, Creating a Clutter Free S.P.A.C.E, Morgenstern outlines simple guidelines that can be applied to decluttering that make the task manageable, methodical, and rewarding.  The key to succeeding with the S.P.A.C.E formula is to do every one of the steps, and most importantly, to do them in order. Attack and complete one space at a time for the biggest sense of accomplishment and success.  Click here to read more on this organization method.

Sort:  No matter what you are organizing, start by grouping similar items just to see what you have.  Clear a space on the floor, begin in one corner, and circle the room - putting each item into a category.  Resist the urge to focus on throwing things out right away--it’s much easier to decide what to keep and what to toss once you have some perspective on how much you’ve accumulated in each category.  

Purge:  Now, going pile by pile, review the contents, asking yourself: “Do I use this? Do I need this?”  If you answer yes to either question, keep it.  If no, out it goes.   Most of us only use about 20% of everything we own, e.g. we refer back to the same 20% of our files.  Still, purging is the toughest step.  To make it easier, keep the following in mind: 

  • Toss the “no-brainers”:  items that are obviously in such bad shape, and so irrelevant to your current life, that you’d never dream of using them, e.g. dried-up pens, stained, torn or pilled clothing, and rusty safety pins.
  • Adopt-a-charity or friend. Give away items you bought long ago, but have never actually used – no matter how much you spent on them! It’s much easier to part with things if they’re going to a person or organization you care about.                                                                           
  • Focus on the payoff you’ll glean from “lightening your load”:  Space—for the things you really use and love; Time—saved from searching thru all the clutter; Money—that keeping the clutter is costing you; and Satisfaction—by sharing the items you never use with the world. 

Assign a home:  Decide precisely where you’re going to store each category of keepers.  Be specific - which shelf, which drawer, etc. Keep frequency of use, accessibility, and logical sequencing in mind when assigning homes.

Containerize:  Containers allow you to personalize and beautify your system.  By waiting until this stage to go shopping, you’ll be sure to get the exact containers you need.  Make a list, measure the spaces your containers must fit into, and take your tape measure to the store. Label containers to make it easy for you and other staff members to remember what goes where. Purchase containers that you find aesthetically pleasing so you enjoy making use of the items. 

Equalize:  Once your system is in place, design a simple maintenance program.   A well-organized room takes no more than five minutes to clean up at the end of each day no matter how messy it gets.  Schedule annual “Tune-ups” to ensure your system keeps pace with your changing needs, possessions and priorities. 

How do you feel after implementing this decluttering strategy? A little lighter, a sense of accomplishment, or an urge to fill the space back up?