{ HOME }

SPRING CLEANING MADE SIMPLE

Seven steps to clear away clutter

By Nora Byrne

Clutter may be common, but it can also be pernicious. It can lead to chaos, create anxiety and get in the way of your happiness and well-being. Perhaps that explains the rise of Marie Kondo. Preaching the benefits of decluttering, tidying and organizing has made her a household name, propelled her books to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list and even led to a show on Netflix, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.

Spring is the perfect time to clear some clutter of your own. You don’t have to follow the KonMari method if you don’t want to. Here are seven simple steps to get you started.

1. NARROW THE SCOPE.
Decluttering your whole house or apartment may seem daunting, so start small. Pick a single room—such as the kitchen or your closet—or even a particular area in a room, such as your bedside table or your pantry. You could also start with a category, like shoes, kitchen gadgets or makeup.

2. TAKE STOCK.
Gather everything in one place. Make sure you can see all of the items to get a sense of the inventory, so to speak. Whether you’re cleaning out your closet or sorting through your makeup, take everything out and spread it on your bed, the couch or the floor.

3. SORT THROUGH THE ITEMS.
Decide what you want to keep. How you determine that will depend, in part, on the type of clutter you are attempting to clear. Pantry wares and makeup? Consider expiration dates. Clothing? Consider whether it’s ripped, torn or stained, as well as whether or not it still fits you. Kitchen gadgets? Consider their utility and how often you use them. And in general, consider whether you need or use the item, whether it is serving its purpose, and even, yes, whether it “sparks joy” or gives you pleasure.

4. SPARE THE SENTIMENTALITY.
Many of us hold onto things for purely sentimental reasons. A certain amount of that is to be expected. It’s okay to hold onto a family heirloom that you treasure, for instance. But holding onto old textbooks or every Christmas card you’ve ever received can weigh you down. It’s okay to let something go and just treasure the memories. If it helps, you can take a picture and just keep a digital version.

5. SEPARATE INTO PILES.
Create separate piles based on what you want to do with each item. Typical piles would be Keep, Toss and Donate. But you may also want additional piles, such as Sell, Gift or Scan. Place each item into one of those piles.

6. SAY SAYONARA TO THE ITEMS YOU’RE PARTING WITH.
Follow through with your intentions: drop off things you want to donate, throw away or gift others and scan anything you need to, like old photos, letters, ticket stubs and other sentimental items before tossing or shredding the originals.

7. STORE THE ITEMS YOU’RE KEEPING.
Put away anything that you’re keeping. That might mean finding a place to store things that—up until this point—have not had their own dedicated storage spot. It’s easier to stay tidy and organized after you’ve decluttered if you find or create a spot for all of your items.

Clearing away clutter can have profound effects—both physical and psychological. Your space will likely feel bigger, as well as more functional. But you may also feel transformed—more at ease, able to think more clearly, as if a weight has been lifted. Savor those feelings and use them to help motivate you to keep clutter in check going forward.

Shutterstock
Shutterstock
Shutterstock
Shutterstock
Shutterstock
Shutterstock