Ten Easy Anti-Clutter Tactics

Do you feel like you are fighting a constant “STUFF-WAR”?

No matter how much you want to simplify, do you feel like the clutter of life is crowding around you?

Does  the daily task of “picking up” constitute your entire exercise routine?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, this list is for you. Also, please leave some comments with your own tactics because we can ALL use some more strategies for combating clutter.  I am totally preaching to myself on half this list, so if you come over, check up on me!

1. Upon arrival home from a fast food restaurant, immediately throw away all toys obtained in kid’s meal boxes. These toys are useless except as choking hazards for future children and become part of the lowest level of miscellania in your junk drawer. Do not save them for consigning or other purpose. Straight in the trash!

2. Upon arrival home from church, camp, or school, throw away all children’s art that is not exceptional in every way. Unless you are depicted as a skinny, voluptuous saint with a perfectly tidy house, all artwork should be tossed. Do not decorate with it.  Chances are, it is not that good.  You will realize this within a week.  In his/her lifetime, your child may have a few peices rise to the top, but for the most part, CAN IT!

3. One touch laundry. (This applies best to one story homes. Mine is 1000 sq. feet, so it works well.) Don’t keep laundry hampers in rooms. This is just creating another clutter area and “middle stage” pile. Train yourself and your kids to take all dirty laundry directly to the top of the dryer. When there is a basketfull, wash it all together in cold.  When I take the kids clothes off, I toss them out in the hall and then upon exiting the room, I gather the clothes and drop them in the laundry closet on my way past.

4. Every day, EVERY DAY, EvErY dAy, pick one thing in your house to take to Goodwill. Have a bag or box in your trunk or in your garage that you fill.  Then drop it to charity when it gets full.  It could be a book, a shirt, an old mug, a toy your kids won’t miss, a toy your kids will miss but that you are giving away because  the song makes you insane, an extra set of sheets that you never use because you just wash your favorites and put them back on the bed, a pile of random DVDs that your husband was responsible for putting away 3 years ago until he forgot about them  . . . you get the point.  Trust me. You are probably accruing junk at a break neck pace. If you actually get to the place where you have NOTHING that you can give away to Goodwill, then you probably have no clutter. Hooray for lucky you (Tthhppthpthpt!  That was me snidely blowing raspberry at lucky you.)

5. With regard to #4, DON’T have five sub-piles of “in waiting” items that you don’t want. Ie: “pile to consign when I get around to it,” “pile of maternity clothes to give to some person if she decides to have another baby,” “pile for my sister to go through in case maybe she doesn’t have a million piles of her own CRAP.” Just think, Goodwill or trash. Cut out the middle man.

6. When you encounter clothes with the following problems, THROW THEM AWAY or put them in the rag bin.

  • Bleach spot (You aren’t really going to find the perfectly matching color marker.)
  • Stain you have attempted and failed to get out twice (Give it up.)
  • Shrunken because it was supposed to be dry cleaned but you didn’t (No one else wants that mess)
  • Have paint on them (You are saving these to be “paint clothes” when in fact, you will not be able to wear them because they will be crusty by then. You can get some new hideous outfit all painty.)
  • Panties which (men ignore this) are not supposed to be see-though, but are. (Gross.)
  • Have a hole or tear on an area other than the hem (You have not repaired them, and let’s face it, never will.)
  • Requires an explanation longer than a sentence and cannot be worn by you or given to another person (You know . . . the hideous acid washed jeans that you wore to your first day of high school . . . )

7.  Put stuff of value to others (but not to you) on Craig’s List or have you husband do it.  Even in the midst of the impoverished 13 weeks of summer, J earned enough money selling stuff on Craigs List to buy tickets for our family to go Disney on Ice in Oct!!

8.  Go UP! We have added extra shelves way up high in all our closets for storing luggage, extra linens, and items used only periodically.  These shelves are not accessible without a step ladder, but they create space down low for stuff we access much more frequently. This helps declutter the closets, and thereby, the house.

9.  Use one general thing instead of three special things. For example, shampoo! Okay, not that I have the best complexion on the planet–or even in a line-up of people with acne, but a few years ago, my friend told me that basic shampoo can be used for hair, body, and face.  Actually, she gave this whole scientific explanation for why washing your face with shampoo is better for it than soap or cleanser.  Upon research, I found, SHE WAS RIGHT! My skin is just as mediocre after washing it with cheap shampoo as it is with expensive cleanser.  I’m not saying that it is awesome, but JUST AS GOOD is JUST AS GOOD.  Sometimes it is better!  Plus shampoo is cheaper than cleanser.  So instead of body wash, shampoo, and cleanser, I just need shampoo.  That’s it. (Just as good–did I mention?) The same can be true of kitchen gadgets, shoes, pens . . . the list goes on.  Pick ONE general and ditch the other two or more.  And with this in mind . . .

10. Use the Vacation Rental Filter. When you are at the Tar-zsay thinking how these adorable and cheap cups would be perfect for the third sub-purpose of semi-casual afternoon outdoor dining, just DON’T DO IT!!!   Ask yourself, “Would I buy these for a vacation rental house?” No. You wouldn’t–because the vacation rental house only needs the basics.  This sounds silly, but it is true. Here’s the application. Have you ever stayed in a vacation rental? Didn’t you love how there was a simplicity to only having the basics.  I have visions of staying in a rustic cabin with only the basic accoutrements and sitting on the porch watching fireflies, sipping, from a generic mug, coffee that I made in a percolator pot.  (I don’t really love this kind of coffe, but it is part of the vision.)  You want to come there too because they don’t have all the junk that your house has, right?  So if you want less junk, don’t get it in the first place. Start trying to make your house fit the vacation rental vision.

That’s all for now folks! What are your best ANTI-CLUTTER secrets?

This post is part of Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday. Top Ten {Tuesday}

14 thoughts on “Ten Easy Anti-Clutter Tactics

  1. 1) Don’t bring stuff home you’re just going to toss. For example, take the toy out of the McDonald’s bag and tell the cashier to use it in someone else’s happy meal. Or, better yet, order off the dollar menu because it’s usually cheaper and you don’t get all the waste from the “happy meal” bag and toy. Note: Must start this from when child is a young age, so they don’t know what they are missing.

    2) (Goes along with #1) Keep your child’s expectations for tangible items low. Don’t buy them crap “just because”. If they want something and it’s expensive and/or takes up a lot of room, encourage them to develop a lovely personality so that they can make friends with someone who has the coveted object.

    3) Remember that for large items it’s still worth it to list it on Craigslist even if you’re not getting very much for it, because 1) it’s still recycling, rather that setting some big plastic item out by the curb, destined to kill off wildlife while some factory is producing another identical item, and 2) you may not get any money, but at least you’re getting someone to haul it away for free (ever have to rent a uhaul to donate something that is too good to throw out? Like a working freezer that you just don’t have space for in your garage? Waste of time and money. Put in an ad and let some other guy bring his truck and cart it away AND STILL PAY YOU). Tip: don’t list things for free on Craigslist. People think it’s crap if it’s free and don’t want it out of principle. Charge 20 bucks and go down to 5).

    4) Avoid having a junk drawer. If you have one, then you have too much stuff.

  2. TARA SAID EVERYTHING I WAS GOING TO SAY!!!! yes, about the Happy Meals… I NEVER BUY THEM!!!! It’s dollar menu all the way. The ONLY exception I make to this is at Chic-Fil-A (where there is no dollar menu) and where they often have really good stuff that is actually worth something educational. I still have several of those little board books they gave away a while ago, and we still read them!!!

    Oh, and Katrina, where the heck is that Tag-Mah-Goodwill you took a picture of? That is NOT what my local goodwill looks like. 🙂

    one more thing: the part about not listing free stuff on craigslist… if you are genuinely throwing something away, and need the city to come by and pick it up (which all trash collectors will do on a specified day of the month, just call your local trash pick up and request a “special pick up for big junk”), you might as well list is for free on craigslist so that someone could use it before the trash people come… just a thought. But of course this is only if you cannot get the aforementioned 5-20 bucks for it. Hey, I am about as big a fan of craigslist as it gets, so I am all for that option.

    Too bad I don’t have a one story house, because the laundry is my NEMESIS. I have to arrange a special time with my husband where I can put away laundry upstairs so that the kids don’t undo all my progress as I’m doing it…

  3. Yes, as for the dollar menu, I agree, but the husbands and the grandparents buy the Happy Meals, so you have to have a plan. Also party favors fit into the same category as Happy Meals. Maybe I should have said, all toys that are small and pointy and will puncture the soul of your foot if stepped on, causing you to gasp and seethe in your attempt to not swear in front of your children, THOSE TOYS SHOULD BE THROWN AWAY. (Or cast into the lake of fire.)

  4. Love the one about the kid’s artwork! And the vacation rental rule is fabulous, and so true. Every time I stay somewhere like that, I think to myself, “So this is all we really need?”

    Thanks so much for adding me to your blogroll! I’m incredibly honored!

  5. #1. Don’t shop at Wal-Mart. We took a Wal-Mart furlough this year and I’ve been shocked at how much less junk I have now, completely unintentionally. Wal-Mart junk is just so cheap. It jumps in your basket when you aren’t looking. And then you buy it because it is just so cheap that, really, it would actually cost you more time-wise to take it back out of the basket. At Target, however, the junk is maybe a dollar more. It might jump in the basket, but then it’s worth my time to take it back out.

  6. I especially love #4! Regarding laundry, I think it’s unfortunate that laundry chutes aren’t in fashion for home design any more. My parents have one in their house (circa 1977) and it was awesome — especially in a two-level house with a basement laundry room.

  7. love you Katrina! I totally needed to read this. as we are cleaning out our 3 years of stuff — yikes! Is it smart to keep the toys that both kids still play with, even if it might break in the move, or they might be out of it by then. (ie: the silly door that opens and sings songs) 🙂

  8. I have nothing to add, because I think this is sheer, ruthless brilliance. I hate hate hate clutter, and I am always looking at new philosophies to have less of it. My only tip I guess is to make sure my husband is not around when you declutter. He is the worst about “maybe we will need that someday…”. If I just get it out of the house without him noticing, there is only a very small percentage of things that we actually needed someday and no longer had.

  9. My deprived children didn’t get Happy Meals ’cause I took food in the care w/ us. You have to give them SOMETHING to talk to their ‘shrink’ about, after all…

    SO glad to hear of another who doesn’t sort laundry by color. When I told my m-i-l I didn’t sort by color she was speechless. 🙂 When four lived here, and the kiddos were in middle school and doing their OWN laundry, we sorted by owner: Mom, Dad, thing 1, thing 2. Then all of one load went back into the same room. 🙂 There’s just hubby and me now. We sort by his dirty/sweaty/greasy stuff + his socks/underwear, and the good stuff: all of mine and his church clothes.

    Need to start a Goodwill box (actually Salvation Army is on my route, but same thing) and add to it on a regular basis. It is a far far easier thing to add to it regularly than to decide to clean (fill in the blank) all at once.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

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