Smart Ways to Clear Clutter and Streamline Your Life
Real Simple readers share inspired life-organizing ideas.
Donate Household Stuff Weekly
At least once a week I find 10 things I can donate, give to friends, or throw away. I think better when I am not surrounded by clutter. Our whole family relaxes more when we are not in a pile of toys, newspapers, and magazines. It has taught us all to value a few good things rather than acquiring masses of objects that don't enhance our life.
Megan Shachat, Seattle
Follow the Five-Minute Rule
No one can really save time, since we all get the same amount every day. However, I have found a way to reduce clutter on my desk at work. I call it the five-minute rule. If I can get it done in five minutes or less, I tend to take care of it then rather than place it in my in-basket to do later. This includes mailing that letter, marking a date, opening a room for someone, answering questions, filing one piece of paper, etc. By getting rid of the little things immediately, I can focus on the bigger projects, and the minute details of my job don't bog me down.
Rebecca San, San Gabriel, California
Systemize Your Closet
I reorganized my clothes closet so that all outfits are grouped together. I am not a morning person, and I do not like standing around naked and cold, trying to decide what to wear. I just grab the first outfit on the right side and put it on. At the end of the day, I hang the clothes up on the left side. This way, all my clothes are rotated, so I wear them all and never overwear my favorites.
Susan Shellberg, Tampa
Head Off Junk Mail
I go from the mailbox to the recycling bin and sort my mail right there—junk goes away immediately. And I give each family member a mesh laundry bag for his or her socks. The socks get washed, dried, and returned in the bag.
Brenda Brassard, Scituate, Massachusetts
I installed a small key cabinet behind the front door. Keys are hung there when we come in and picked up when we go out. I also check the weather reports on Sunday, then set out and iron my entire week's wardrobe. Finally, I get everything ready for the next day the night before and place my briefcase or bag near the front door, ready to go.
Amy ODonnell, Houston, Texas
Just Say No
I have three children, a husband, a dog, and a full-time job, and I was volunteering to help out with every activity that came forth. I finally realized that my children were happier to have me at home than out doing things that I thought were for their own good. I gave up everything except the once-a-month PTA meeting. My children are much happier knowing that I will kiss them good-night while they are still awake, instead of while they are asleep.
Michelle Corbett, Mississauga, Ontario
Being self-employed as a hairstylist, I decided not to accept any new clients. I found myself taking just one more cut and working until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. I am now able to go to the kids' practices and make dinner for my husband for a change, and I am able to relax a little more. My family definitely comes first, and it's about time I realized this.
Andrea Arnold, Willows, CA