7 Simple Ways to Reduce Clutter Today

You know you have a problem with clutter, and you're working on it.  When you look at the "before" pictures of your home, it's obvious you've made progress.  That's fantastic, and you should be proud!  Plenty of people would be inspired by your work.

However, you still have a long way to go, and sometimes when you look around at all the clutter that remains, you feel discouraged.  It's hard to keep working, 10 minutes a day, or with tiny tasks here and there, without feeling that you'll never be done.  You fear you'll never have the beautiful, serene, streamlined home you dream of.

You long to make your home look less cluttered today.  Is that even possible?

I'm certainly not going to tell you how to hide clutter.  And this post isn't about doing a radical, super-fast purge.  But I can give you some tips that will make your space look better even if some clutter remains. 

a bit cluttered

Visual noise

Have you heard the term visual noise?  As with loud, continuous, auditory noise, visual noise makes it harder to concentrate or relax.  Your brain struggles to tune out all of the stimuli so you can focus on a person or a task.  It's hard to feel comfortable when you're being assaulted by so much all at once.

It's no wonder you want to declutter!  But there are a lot of extra things that can make your home feel cluttered, some of which you recognize immediately, and others you might not think of in that way.  But those things are still there:

  • too many throw pillows
  • too many plants
  • too many things on the walls
  • too many knickknacks
  • too much furniture
  • piles of laundry
  • items on the refrigerator door
  • baskets full of mail or paperwork
  • crowded bookcases
  • items that haven't been put away
  • donations waiting to be dropped off
  • things you're hoping to sell

...and maybe more!

Maybe you can't do a full and complete declutter right this minute, but you can make your house look better with just a bit of time and effort.  It's not a complete fix, but I guarantee it will make your home more peaceful and you'll love it.

7 quick jobs that make your house look less cluttered

1.  Deal with laundry.

I know, I know, laundry never ends, especially if you have kids.  But have you ever noticed how a basket of clean clothes sitting on a table draws your eye?  And certainly clothes tossed on the bed, over a chair, or on the floor make any space look a mess.

I just folded a big basket of laundry and put it away.  It took me 13 minutes (yes, I timed it).  If my husband had been home to help, it would have taken less than 7 minutes.

Do yourself a favor, and get dirty clothes into a laundry bag or hamper, and put the clean and re-wearable clothes away!

2.  Corral the paper.

Paper enters our homes every day, and if we don't deal with it, we'll drown.  Messy piles of junk mail, bills, schoolwork, and more can take over a countertop or table.  Plus, if there's something that should have been filed or paid or otherwise dealt with, we're going to be frantically looking for it among dozens of other pieces.

Develop systems for handling paper, and practice them every day.  It's a relatively painless way to reduce clutter.

3.  Clear refrigerator doors.

The modern love of tacking everything on the refrigerator doors – schoolwork, art, photos, receipts, recipes, reminders, and the rest – makes the kitchen look cluttered and hyper-busy.  You can't really see any of it, so the art can't be enjoyed and the lists and schedules are unreadable.

  • Put a bulletin board in each child's room for his or her masterpieces.
  • Keep a family calendar, either paper or digital, so appointments and events can be entered in one place.  You will never gain control of your schedule if you can't see how over-booked you are.
  • Simplify meal planning, and stop being a recipe collector.  If you actually prepare all the recipes you clip, create a binder you can keep in a drawer.

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busy kitchen

4.  Clean the counters.

Kitchen and bathroom counters collect bottles, canisters, plants, candles, knickknacks, tools and utensils, small appliances, and more.  They're impossible to clean thoroughly without removing everything, and who does that every day?  Yet these are areas where you prepare food and take care of personal grooming.  You need room to do those things without frustration, and you want to know they're really clean.

So clear everything off, and either donate it, dump it, or find a new home for it in a cupboard or drawer.  Clean each counter.  In the kitchen, replace only items too big for a cupboard that you use every day (like a coffee maker, for example).  In the bathroom, replace just the hand soap dispenser, and possibly a box of facial tissues.  Notice how each room looks calmer and classier.

5.  Remove one piece of furniture.

Maybe you have a chair no one sits in, or a side table that just collects magazines and junk mail.  Maybe you still have a set of TV trays or a curio cabinet that holds things you never look at any more.

If a piece like this is in your home, consider removing it today, and enjoy more space instead.

6.  Rethink artwork and knickknacks.

Most of us collect too many of these things and receive even more as gifts.  There are candles, plants, pillows, vases, photos, figurines, shelves of collectibles, and all kinds of things hung on the walls.

Dusty tchotchkes make the whole room look grubby, and too many things on the walls make the room look small and crowded.  Removing just 10%-20% can make a huge difference.

Take a moment to count your items.  My home is quite uncluttered, yet I have seven items sitting on my living room furniture, not counting lamps and books on the bookshelf.  I have four things hanging on the walls, and one of those is a shelf holding several pieces of blue and white English ironstone.  It wouldn't be unusual for someone to have two or three times as many decorative items (or more) in one room.  If that's you, maybe you can remove one thing from your wall, and two things from your furniture.

7.  Drop off donations.

Do you have boxes of things you've planned to donate taking up space in your living room, bedroom, or entry hall?  Your clutter, still cluttering?  Make time to donate those things today.

Take action.

The great thing about these projects is that they really are quick.  You can easily accomplish all of them in one weekend (how about this weekend?) or in a few 15- to 30-minute sessions throughout one week.

Of course, the first four tasks are not once-and-done, but all of them are good ways to practice staying clutter-free.  Maintenance is an essential skill, and it gets quicker and easier with practice.  Keep up with laundry all the time, handle paper all the time, keep that refrigerator door and your counters clear all the time, and you are going to see a major difference in your home's clutter level, even if you're not yet able to dig into your basement and back closets.

With these seven ideas in mind, which steps can you take today?


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