Aside from those curious folks who just love organizing, no one actually gets psyched about spending precious free time cleaning out the basement or going through a mammoth-sized stack of bills. But at some point we all have to deal with that dirty seven letter word: clutter. Yuck.
The good news? You don't have to devote an entire weekend to clearing clutter. All you need is 5 minutes a day or even less – doing a little at a time can be just as effective and much less overwhelming than doing it all at once. Get started with these tips inspired by reformed hoarder and editor-in-chief of unclutterer.com, Erin Rooney Doland. Then check out her new book, Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter, for more advice, quizzes, and motivation to help you sort through the mess and figure out once and for all if those pink cowboy boots you had to have when you were 16 really deserve a spot in your sacred space.
1. Think Carefully About Your Collections
Take 30 seconds to think of at least one reason why you're curating a particular item. (And no, "it's a habit" isn't an acceptable answer.) If nothing inspiring comes to mind, the moment has come to cash in on your gang of troll dolls and think of another project that suits your current interests.
2. Change Your Perspective
Sometimes a different viewpoint is all you need to spot the biggest clutter culprit in the room. Lie down on the floor or stand on a chair and see if you find any messy spots you didn't notice before. It may be time to tackle those monsters hiding out under the bed.
3. Be Honest With Yourself
Study your closet and pull out that one article of clothing you bypass every morning. Try it on and look in the mirror or snap a selfie; ask yourself, is this really flattering? Do I feel confident when I wear it? If not, toss the item in a big garbage bag and donate it to charity. Do not feel guilty about giving a dress to someone in need who will happily wear it (even if it was a special gift from grandma).
4. Pick Pillows Wisely
Count the number of decorative pillows on your bed. Have more than three? If so, consider tossing the ones you like least to simplify bed making. This will also help give the illusion of a larger space, which is especially important if your bed takes up most of the room. (#apartmentlife, anyone?)
5. Unstick Those Stickies
You probably have at least two (or 20) sticky notes on your desk or computer monitor that are several months old. Copy info from a particularly important one and put it someplace safe that your dog or kids can't get to, like an address book or app on your smartphone. (We're fans of Evernote.)
6. Reserve a Spot for Those Wear-One-More-Time Clothes
You've worn that pair of jeans a few times, so it's not clean, but it's also not dirty enough to warrant a laundry sesh. Doland calls these in-between clothes "clerty" (not clean, not dirty) and suggests installing a hook on the back of your door or finding a bin so you have an official place for them. After you pull that sweater off the hook and put it on, you know it's headed for the hamper at the day's end.