8 Creative Ways to Clear Clutter

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Does it seem like you're swimming against a never-ending tide of stuff? Here's how to make 2016 your year of living happily clutter-free.

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by the post-holiday excess all around you? Have the past several years of your family’s success with Santa left your closets, garage, attic and office filled to the rafters? If so, it may be time for some creative clutter-busting strategies.

Here are eight ways to kick the new year off right by kicking the clutter habit now:

1. Start with three questions

Let three questions cut through your material clutter by cutting through the mental clutter that often makes it difficult to part with things. With each item you consider, ask yourself:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I use it?
  • Will I ever need it?

If your response to each of these questions is “no,” then it’s much easier to rationalize passing the item along and letting it find a new home. But be ruthlessly honest as you answer each query. Responses that begin with “No, but … ” usually mean that your decluttering is sputtering.

2. Target one area at a time

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff that most of us live with. Deciding to declutter and live happily with less is an achievement in its own right. Instead of diving right in and burning out quickly, focus on one area of your home or office at a time.

Because a little positive reinforcement never hurts, start with the easiest areas first. Declutter a chest of drawers, a hall closet, one kitchen cupboard, or a single drawer in your desk. Then, use that momentum to move on to the next spot.

If it helps, make a list of all the clutter hot spots that need attention and check each one off as you calm the chaos.

3. Get rid of one item per day

If taming the clutter in your environment seems like an impossible task, start slowly. Decide to rid yourself of just a single item per day, but be determined and relentless.

As the weeks and months pass, you’ll begin to notice and enjoy the extra elbow room your efforts have created. Build on your success by accelerating the clutter-busting schedule and letting go of two or three items each day.

4. Adopt a one-in, one-out rule

To achieve and maintain a clutter-free home or office, adopt a zero accumulation habit. For every new item that comes into your space, make sure one item goes. Donate or sell usable items and toss what’s left.

For a more aggressive take on the same idea, try a one-in, two-out rule and watch those prodigious piles and cramped closets slowly disappear.

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