By Tracy McCubbin
Why declutter? The answer is easy: Decluttering saves you time and money. It also improves your health and happiness. Being cluttered eats up a lot of time: time looking for your keys, looking for the mail to pay the bills, or trying to find an outfit to wear to work that day.
And think about the real cost of clutter. How about all the clothes in your closet with the tags still on them? Or the pantry items you buy again and again because you can’t find the mustard you bought the last time you went to the store? And let’s talk what you are paying for off-site storage spaces: $100 a month? $150 a month? It’s no wonder everyone is talking about decluttering.
Here are some of my favorite tips to tackle the clutter room by room, and in turn, live a happier and healthier life:
* Tackle Tupperware (or all food storage). Pull it all out and make sure every top has a bottom and every bottom has top. If not — out!
* Spices. Contrary to what my grandmother believed, spices do not last forever; they eventually lose their flavor. Ground spices last 3 to 4 years and leafy spices 1 to 2 years. Here’s a quick tip: Write the year the spice was purchased on the lid.
* Take a look around the room and see what items have homes/places to which they can return. Sometimes a quick returning of things to proper homes will declutter a room in a very short time.
* Magazines. These are the first item to make a room feel cluttered, and they are the last thing to be reread. Be honest about the time and interest you have, and recycle them.
* Start under the bathroom sink. That’s the first place to become a clutter catch-all. Cleaning products you no longer use. Out. Bath toys the kids have outgrown? Out.
* How about sunscreen? It’s designed to last for 3 years, but if it’s older than that, it loses its effectiveness.
* Declutter those nightstands. Nothing gets the day off to a bad start than waking up to a pile of clutter. How many of the books stacked there are you actually going to read?
* We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. Let’s get real about all the clothes spilling out of our closet. Doesn’t fit? Out. Regret buying it and will never wear it? Out!
* Only 25% of Americans can park their cars in their garages. Garages are the biggest offenders of clutter. Start with sports equipment. Broken, worn out, no one plays that sport anymore? Out.
* Boxes of old paperwork? Check with your tax advisor about what you need to keep and shred the rest! If it’s a lot more than your little home shredder can hold, consider calling a mobile shred company.
It is best to divide these projects into manageable time chunks. Remember, Rome didn’t get cluttered in a day, so it’s not going to get uncluttered one.
Tracy McCubbin is a professional organizer and founder of dClutterfly. Her goal: “Making order out of chaos, one pile of clutter at a time.” You can find her at tracymccubbin.com, Twitter, or Instagram.