10 tips to beat clutter in less than five minutes

I’m happy to have Gretchen Rubin, the fabulous author of The Happiness Project, join us with a guest post today on Unclutterer. There just aren’t enough kind words in the English language to say about her. Welcome, Gretchen!

Having a clutter-filled house can make you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Everywhere you look, you see little chores that should be done. No single task is particularly difficult, but together, they add up to a big headache and a big mess. Pretty quickly, it’s easier just to add to the piles than to try to attack the problem.

Here are ten easy, quick tips that, if followed regularly, will help keep your clutter under control. And none of them takes more than five minutes – if that.

  1. Make your bed each morning.
  2. Throw away the newspaper each night, even if you haven’t read it yet.
  3. Follow the “one-minute rule” – push yourself to do any chore that takes less than one minute. Throw away the junk mail, close the cabinet door, put your dirty socks in the hamper, hang up your wet towel.
  4. Identify an organization or person to whom you can give things you no longer need – it’s much easier to get rid of unneeded stuff if you can envision someone else getting good use from them. Also, figure out a place to store those things until you hand them over. We have a special shelf for books that we’re taking to the Housing Works thrift store. When the shelf is full, we drop off the books.
  5. Pause for a moment before you “store” something. Storing something means you don’t intend to use it much. Other than holiday decorations and seasonal clothes, you should strive to “store” as little as possible.
  6. Beware of freebies. Never accept anything free, unless you’re thrilled with it. A mug, a tote bag, a hand-me-down toy, the lamp from your mother-in-law—if you don’t need it, don’t take it.
  7. Get rid of things if they break. When I went through our apartment, I was astonished by how many things I’d kept even though they didn’t work.
  8. Don’t keep any piece of paper unless you know that you actually need it. I have a friend who, for years, carefully filed away the stubs when she paid her gas bill. “Why?” I asked, mystified. “I have no idea,” she said. Along the same lines, don’t keep anything that would quickly become dated—like travel information. Remember the internet! If you can easily find information online, you don’t need to keep a hard copy.
  9. Hang up your coat.
  10. Before you go to bed, take five minutes to do an “evening tidy-up.” Don’t tackle anything ambitious, but just stack up the magazines, put your shoes away, shove the chairs into place, etc. Just a few minutes of tidying can make your house look a lot better, and it’s a calming thing to do before going to sleep. Plus it makes the morning nicer.

53 Comments for “10 tips to beat clutter in less than five minutes”

  1. posted by Make yourself a minimalist for university in 10 ways. « My Life on the Net on

    [...] has an excellent blog post with ten tips of how to beat clutter in five minutes.  It’s a great start for those students that are only getting used to fending for themselves.  [...]

  2. posted by coco on

    i love this list. we do most of these. i have a suggestion on “making the bed”. i learned this from my sis a few years ago. to keep the bed organized and easy to make skip the top sheet and just have a comforter or blanket. in my boys room, they have a fitted sheet, 2 pillows and only a lightweight comforter. all i have to do is shake it out (dog hair) and lay it on the bed every morning. i do something similar with my bed. my husband and i have separate lightweight blankets, and then a lightweight quilt that goes on top. so i just shake it and lay it on top. the beds are “made” with very little work.

  3. posted by Amy on

    I never realized that my obsession with freebies was a problem, but now that I think of it, I never ever say no to something free, even if it’s something I can’t possibly need…like ferret food. (And no, I have never own a ferret)

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