It can be overwhelming when you're surrounded by things you don't want or need — or worse, things that are junk or broken. You arm yourself for clutter combat when you:
• Assess your stuff. If your house were on fire, the things you would instinctively grab probably aren't clutter. Items you keep should be functional, beautiful or loved. Anything else is a clutter suspect.
• Put things in their places. Setting stuff in piles or on counters leads to clutter and confusion. When you have specific places for items, such as keys or wallets, they're not as easily lost.
• Control the kitchen. Kitchens are hot spots for clutter. Proclaim your kitchen the designated food preparation space and banish things that don't have to do with eating. Prune your plastics. Plastic storage items are great, but if there's no lid for the container it's clutter.
• Edit your collections. If you're a collector, limit your displays to only your best-loved items. This goes for knickknacks and books — even cookbooks (unless it's a family heirloom, pitch it if you've yet to attempt a recipe from the pages).
• Scan your closets. Waiting for an outfit to come back in style? Time's up. Even if the fashion returns, it will look dated. You know the rule of thumb: if you haven't worn it in a year, it's time to donate it to charity or give it to a friend.
• Close the museum. Heirloom items are a source of anxiety when it comes to clutter. Repeat this mantra: your home isn't a museum — it's the place where you live. If there are treasured items that stir memories and tell a story, display them. But you're not obligated to keep (and store) everything from previous generations. Pass them on to another family member who might appreciate them, or sell or donate them.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers