When you imagine a peaceful paradise, what do you see? Is it palm trees swaying or a misty morning in a sprawling pine forest? Whatever you envision, the chances are that you’re not seeing piles of stuff in every corner. Clutter keeps your home from being that peaceful paradise — but the good news is that there’s an easy way to win the battle against stuff.

The key is to create an organizational strategy that works for you. That means you’ll actually want to use it — which, in turn, means you won’t give up on it after a few months and end up buried in clutter again.

To make that organizational strategy a reality and turn your home into a relaxing retreat, you’ll need to take these simple steps.

Don’t let mental clutter stop you from getting organized

Sometimes, clutter is just as much about what’s in your head as what’s in your home. Seeing so much stuff can be overwhelming — and if you’re not sure where to start, it’s possible that you’ll never want to start at all. This is part of the reason why clutter quickly gets out of hand: It’s easier to brush it aside than to address what’s going on under the surface.

To successfully organize and declutter your home, you’ll need to deal with mental clutter first. Here are a few things to keep in mind — and a few to get out of your mind while you’re at it.

Make a plan

Your first order of business should be making a plan to help you start organizing. It doesn’t matter which decluttering method you choose or where you prefer to begin — what’s important is that you have a clear path to follow. This helps you know where to start, which steps to take in what order and how to prioritize your rooms. Plus, having a plan means you’ll be able to see — and feel motivated by — your continuing progress.

Get others on board

Let’s face it: If you’re the only one organizing, you won’t make much ground in the battle against stuff — and that’s its own kind of mental clutter.

To be sure you’re actually making progress, it’s important to get others on board. This can be as simple as getting the kids to put their toys away or as intricate as working with your spouse to design decluttering methods that work for both of you. No matter who’s in your house, get them to help — or at least get them to stay out of your way.

Start with the easy stuff

Part of why decluttering the house feels so difficult is the sheer amount of work you expect from a job like this. To make it easier, give yourself permission to start with the easy tasks. Get rid of clothes you don’t wear anymore, toys the dog doesn’t play with, knickknacks you never liked anyway and even furniture that just doesn’t fit in your space. By eliminating this first round of clutter, you’ll feel like you’re making great progress and you’ll have a clearer view of what still needs organizing.

Acknowledge your emotions

Sometimes, clutter sticks around because you’re emotionally attached to it one way or another. To make sure feelings don’t get in the way of your organizing journey, be sure to acknowledge your emotions — but don’t be ruled by them. The key is to find your ideal balance between logic and nostalgia.

For example, a snowglobe from your first family vacation may not serve a purpose, but it’s an important keepsake. On the other hand, a wall-hanging from a friend might stick around just because you feel too guilty to take it down — which means it’s just adding clutter to your space.

Battling stuff

To win the battle against stuff, you’ll need to know how to address different spaces in your home. Here are a few tips that can help turn the tides in your favor.

  • Use the Peter Walsh method.

This one likely won’t work in big spaces, like living rooms or kitchens, but it can be a big help for closets, kids’ play areas and more. According to Forbes, the Peter Walsh method of decluttering starts by removing everything from a certain space. Once the room is empty, start putting items back one at a time. As you do, you’ll notice what stuff you actually want in the room and what feels like clutter.

  • Try the 365-day method.

This method usually takes a year, but if you’d prefer your organizing journey to be a sprint instead of a marathon, you can shorten the timeframe.

Take all the clothing hangers in your closet and turn them in one direction. As you wear clothes, turn the hangers the opposite direction so you know you’ve used them recently. At the end of a year (or however long you want the method to take), you’ll have a visual representation of what you actually wear and what can be donated to free up extra space.

  • Don’t forget the junk drawer.

It can be tempting to take stuff without a home and cram it into the junk drawer — which is why you should challenge yourself to declutter that, too. Chances are, your junk drawer has a lot of clutter that can be reorganized, stored elsewhere or thrown away. You can use a drawer organizer or drawer divider to help win this particular declutter challenge.

  • Consider a garage sale for kids’ toys.

Having a hard time convincing the kids to let go of toys they don’t use anymore? One simple trick is to plan a kids’ garage sale. The little ones may not like the idea of their stuff walking away in a stranger’s hands — but they will be excited to help out if you give them the money from anything they manage to sell.

Designing a more peaceful home

Decluttering isn’t all about getting rid of stuff. It’s also about giving every item a home — that way, you won’t slip back into bad habits. To make your house that perfect paradise, try some of these solutions that will lay the groundwork for a lifetime of organization.

Savvy storage solutions

If you come across something you don’t want to get rid of but don’t really want sitting out, you’ll probably want to shove it into a storage space. However, these areas quickly get overwhelmed when you use them as a cure-all. To keep household items from overflowing from the drawer or spilling out from under the bed, create more storage space throughout your home. For example, you could add shelves to the garage or laundry room, use office or home gym closets for household stuff, buy furniture with built-in storage and more. According to Better Homes & Gardens, you can also consider going vertical with your storage solutions to save space.

When choosing how and where to store your stuff, remember that even the cutest storage solution is no good if you won’t actually use it. Make sure storage fits into your life — not the other way around.

Clever closets

If you have a linen closet or other storage space in your laundry room, mud room, hallways or garage, use it to your advantage. Instead of stuffing them with, well, stuff, use them as a home for items that have a tendency to get lost or end up in the way — for example, keeping shoes in a closet by the front door so they’re not all over the house, or hanging keys in a closet when you come in from the garage. That way, you’ll always know where these things are, because you’ll have to pass them to get out the door.

Choosy children

If you have young kids — or even teenagers — you’ll want to create organization techniques they can be on board with. If it’s too much work, little ones might lose interest, while older kids might just forget — so when it comes to getting kids organized, keep it simple. For example, make sure little hands can reach the drawers they need to use to put their toys away, and give teens the tools they need to organize their own space (so their stuff doesn’t end up in yours).

Helpful habits

To get into good organizing habits, it’s important to pay attention to the little stuff. For example, throw out empty containers in the kitchen and bathroom, get rid of broken items you’re never going to fix and — perhaps most importantly — don’t buy things on impulse. It’s okay to add a knickknack or decoration to your home now and again, but impulse buys can end up as clutter you’ll just have to deal with later.

Limiting future clutter

Once you get your home organized and decluttered, the last thing you want to think about is having to do it all over again. The good news is that there’s one approach that can help out: minimalism.

According to Good Housekeeping, minimalism is the practice of “living with less.” It’s all about simplicity and stress-free living areas — but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Here are a few ways to adapt minimalism to your needs and make this decluttering method a lifestyle.

  • Learn why you have too much stuff in the first place. If you’re guilty of impulse buys, recognizing that habit can help you reach your minimalist goals. Similarly, if you tend to keep things for nostalgic reasons, you could consider adapting to mementoes that don’t gather dust — like pictures stored in a digital file.
  • Don’t take it too far. Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of everything you own. In fact, if you try to take it too far, you’ll burn yourself out — so make minimalism part of your life rather than letting it have total control. Start small — maybe just one room at a time — and see what’s most comfortable for you.
  • Pay attention to what’s meaningful. Avoid items that have no purpose or value beyond aesthetics — no matter how cute they might be. Instead, try decorating with things that are meaningful to you. Remember, “meaningful” is up to your personal definition — so even if something doesn’t feel particularly minimalist, you should hold onto it as long as it actually makes you happy.
  • Have a purpose. Good Housekeeping recommends having a purpose for your minimalist lifestyle. Understand why you’re making these changes — to save money, try a new decluttering method, simplify your life or something else — and use that as motivation to guide you.

Start fresh with Bungalo®

There are a lot of reasons to declutter — but for many people, the journey begins when it’s time to pack everything up and move to a new home. If you’re hoping for a fresh start, make sure organization is one of the first things on your list; after all, there’s no better time to get rid of extra stuff than right before you have to drag it across town or even across the country. Plus, a new home is the perfect opportunity to create and stick to organizational techniques that you’ll actually maintain.

Another thing to keep in mind is the home search itself. If you look for houses with ample storage space, like big kitchen cabinets or plentiful shelves, you won’t end up cramming things in closets or under beds while you’re trying to move in. Also, if you really want to win at your home search, keep in mind that Bungalo Certified houses come with guarantees that your new place is free of issues from electrical to HVAC and beyond — which means you won’t get any nasty surprises when you’re trying to organize your new home.

To get started finding your peaceful paradise, browse Bungalo listings today. This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.

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