Top clutter culprits include: kitchen counters, bookcases and shelves, entry ways, closets and garages.

Living in California has many perks, but storage in homes is not one of them. Most homes don’t have basements, ample closet storage or finished attics. It’s important to use every bit of our homes for optimal storage. Top clutter culprits include: kitchen counters, bookcases and shelves, entry ways, closets and garages. It’s time to toss, sell and donate. Here are some ideas.

1) Conquer one area at a time.

Your clutter didn’t build up in a day and chances are conquering it in one day is not going to happen either. Focus on areas that you can clear in a short time, whether that be a whole room or one drawer. You set the pace and attack at your convenience. By taking small steps, it makes the big job of decluttering your home a more enjoyable process.

2) Get out the trash bags.

Take everything out of your designated space and clean the area. Leave no item untouched, everything must come out and be sorted. It’s amazing how much clutter builds up with daily mail, old recipes, kids’ old homework assignments, old receipts, etc. Separate what to keep, what to donate, a garage sale pile if you do them and toss the rest in your trash bag.

3) Organize. Plan. Buy.

Sure, it’s more fun to start a project by going to the store and looking at all the ways you can store items, but those purchases are based on whim and impulse. Clearing the clutter comes first. Once you know what is staying, make a plan. Buy storage containers according to where items will be stored, what size your space is and what style of container is needed. Having clear visibility to what you’re looking for can save you time and money, too. Many times people buy products they already have but can’t find them in their clutter.

4) Complete the task before moving on.

Now that you’ve divided your clutter mountain, it’s time to conquer it! At this point, you’ve organized your stay pile by putting it back in a cleaned space with proper containers if needed. Now it’s time to get rid of the rest. Give the unwanted good stuff to friends, local charities, sell it online or make an out-of-the-way garage sale pile to add on as you move through the house. It’s important to fully complete this step with your designated area before moving on to the next space so clearing your clutter doesn’t become overwhelming.

5) Know what you like and stick to it.

Clutter often comes in the form of products bought that don’t live up to your expectations and they go back in the cabinet never to be used again. Over time, those unwanted items clutter your space. For example, you’ve been looking for that perfect hand lotion that keeps your dry winter hands soft and smooth, but everything you’ve tried falls short. Now you’ve got five lotions in the cabinet. It’s time to let go! A rule of thumb is: If you haven’t used it in more than a year, it’s time to let go. 

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