It is almost impossible to prevent the accumulation of ‘things’ in our lives…  Year after year, we tend to pile more and more everyday items in to our drawers and cupboards, until they become too full to properly use, and make it impossible to actually find anything!  How many of us have a guest bedroom or study that has become more of a storage room, rather than serving its purpose???

Research shows us that we perform better, are more time and cost efficient when we surround ourselves with a low clutter and well organised space.
The start of the new year is the perfect time for a fresh start, and a chance to finally clear out the clutter from your home.  Below are my top 5 tips on de-cluttering  and getting organised for the year ahead.

1. Clear out the Clutter

The first step to de-cluttering is to go through each room, or cupboard or drawer one at a time and sort everything in to 3 separate piles.  The first pile is things you want to keep, the second pile is the things that you would like to donate and the third is for the things to throw away.    You’ll be surprised at how much ‘stuff’ you actually didn’t even know you had and that is serving absolutely no purpose in your life!  My rule is that if the item has no sentimental value and you haven’t used it in the last 12 months, you probably aren’t ever going to use it, so get rid of it!    There’s significant research that connects low creativity, reduced efficiency and poor mental health with visual and physical clutter in the home and the workplace…  So start clearing out the stuff today; you’ll feel so much happier and more organised in your clutter- free environment.

2. Plan

No home is organised by chance… You need a plan.  A good plan can help you focus on achieving you goals, and establish exactly what tasks need to be completed in order for you to achieve your goals. But how do you start?
For each area of the home needing to be de-cluttered, map out what needs to be attended to, then map out the tasks that need doing to achieve this.  Each task should also include a time frame to enable you to stay on track and not lose interest.   When you’ve completed a step on the plan, stop and reward yourself.  If you have others in the house that can help, be sure to include them on the plan as well to get the job done as efficiently as possible.  Every plan will be different to suit individual needs and time frames, however, it is important to stick to the plan and ultimately remember the main goal.  There are no rights and wrongs, just ensure you allow adequate time to achieve each step, and ensure you involve rewards and incentives after each goal is achieved.  Having a plan will help you remain focused and provides a written document for you to refer to and revisit at any time, to ensure you remain on the right track.

3. Do You Really Need that Purchase?

Once all the hard work is done, and your home or workplace is starting to become a cleaner and clearer environment, it needs to be maintained.  Many people find it challenging to reduce the items they purchase, and to retrain their mind to think: Do I actually really need this?  Am I just buying it because it is on sale?  Do I have room for this at home?  By getting in to the habit of asking yourself these questions each time you make a purchase, you’ll start to re-train your mind, and work towards maintaining your clutter-free environment well in to the future.

4. Storage & Labels

Often, the key to maintaining an organised home (once the clutter is gone) is in appropriate storage systems.  By having designated storage boxes or baskets for everyday items, along with labels to identify where to find and put things back away correctly makes a huge difference to staying organised. One example is to have an acrylic file drawer to sit on the kitchen bench; with each drawer labelled appropriately for bills, school newsletters, receipts etc.  This will not only clear your bench space, but will also make it a lot easier to find any paperwork or documents you’re looking for and need to tend to. Baskets are also great for any room of the home, and can be used for a range of household items – From pegs in the laundry, to makeup, and bathroom items, to keys, wallets, phones, sunglasses etc. All things that we use everyday, but tend to just leave on the bench adding to the feeling of clutter and disorganisation.  Another simple idea is to hang a calendar in the kitchen or somewhere where everyone can see, and write important events and dates down as soon as you know about them…  This way everyone knows when things are happening, and you’ll never forget another birthday again!

5. Take Action!

No matter how much you read or how many great tips you receive, nothing will ever happen if you don’t take action!  If you struggle to find the time, break up each task in to small achievable steps… You’ll be amazed at what you can actually achieve in 15 minutes!  And it will inspire you to keep going at the next chance you get.