Sure, it should be the most Zen-like area of your home, but let’s be honest, the bedroom is typically the messiest. While you already know that piles of dirty laundry don’t spark joy, you may be surprised to learn about some other items that are wreaking havoc in your space. We tapped Sharon Lowenheim, a professional organizer based in New York City, for her biggest bedroom clutter bombs. Here, six things to ban from your bedroom.
1. Decorative Jewelry Boxes
This one surprised us because we thought we were doing a pretty good job by putting all of our jewelry away (leaving our favorite earrings on the top of the dresser is a great way for them to get lost, after all). But Lowenheim says that some jewelry boxes are more hassle than they’re worth, specifically ones where you can’t see what’s inside. “If you have to open a lot of boxes to find the piece of jewelry that you want to wear, you’ll end up wearing the same pieces over and over again.” Instead, try a jewelry box that allows you to see everything at once, increasing your odds of wearing everything you own (we like these clear ones from Amazon). To keep necklaces tangle-free, hang them inside a closet or on a bedroom wall so that you can see them all when you’re getting dressed, she suggests.
2. Everything You Plan on Reading This Year
That towering pile of books next to your bed is an accident waiting to happen, says Lowenheim. “You can’t possibly be reading that many books at one time!” Pick one or two and put the rest away on your bookshelves. And as for the giant stack of magazines in the corner, just admit to yourself that you’re never going to read that year-old copy of The New Yorker (hey, no judgment). Recycle all but the current issues and leave it at that.
3. Exercise Equipment
Working out is the opposite of what you want your bedroom to represent (that would be relaxation and sleep). “Big pieces of equipment—like treadmills, exercise bikes and Pilates Reformers—tend to get draped with clothing and other clutter, so it’s best to keep them out of the bedroom,” Lowenheim advises. As for the smaller stuff (like weights and yoga mats), keep them out of sight until you’re ready to use them.
4. Piles of Clothing
But you knew this one already, right? Whether you live out of your laundry basket or your chair has become a leaning tower of discarded outfits (you know, the ones that aren’t quite clean enough for the closet but also not dirty enough to be washed), heaps of clothing are the ultimate bedroom stressor. Here’s how to fix it: Every evening before hitting the sack, spend just five minutes putting away your clothes. If your closet or drawers are too crowded for you to do this, it’s time to get rid of some stuff. And for those items you want to wear again before laundering, try rehanging them in the closet with the hanger facing the other way so that you know they are in that in-between stage.
5. An office desk
It’s best to keep your desk out of your bedroom, but if you have no other place for your desk, then be sure to keep it neat and tidy. “Looking at a desk piled with paper—bills, receipts, a to-do list—will give you too much anxiety to get to sleep,” says Lowenheim. Put papers in a drawer when you’re done working and close your laptop before going to sleep so that the glow won’t keep you awake.
6. Anything that causes you anxiety
For some people, this could be empty boxes or power cords, while for others it might be unopened mail or an old mattress. “Your bedroom should be a calming and restful place. If walking into your bedroom and seeing something causes you anxiety, you won’t have a restful night’s sleep,” Lowenheim explains.
Here’s a tip we picked up from Gretchen Rubin’s brilliant decluttering book, Outer Order, Inner Calm: Take a photo to evaluate your space. “If you’re having trouble getting started, try taking photos of an area and evaluating what you see. Somehow a photograph helps us see a space with fresh eyes. ... The area may feel very comfortable—but the objective eye of the camera may help a person recognize that it needs to be cleared out.” Genius.