If decluttering your house is on the agenda this spring, make sure you're using clutter-control strategies that will help you get rid of the junk -- and keep clutter at bay later. Simply making the decision to get rid of something can be a challenge, so go into it with a broader goal in mind. You aren't merely cleaning out old stuff -- you're adopting a new, more minimalist lifestyle. After all, what sense is it to clear your kitchen, closets and garage of clutter only to refill them later?
As you embark on your clutter-cleaning journey, keep an eye out for easy ways to keep clutter in control when you're done. Here are six ideas to help you clear up clutter while you're doing your spring cleaning.
1. Maintain a document inbox. Bills, letters, postcards, receipts, brochures and other types of paper can clutter up your living and workspaces quickly. If your household tends to accumulate piles of paper on kitchen countertops, living room furniture or office chairs, here's one idea: Keep things organized with a real-life "inbox." Make a commitment to stowing all your paper documents in this box and plan to sort through it later when you have more time. (If a box doesn't match your decor, a tiered shelf or office organizer will work just as well.) If you work out of a home office, consider employing two inboxes -- one for domestic paperwork and another for business documents.
2. Install hanging organizers. Whether you need to keep your collection of shoes organized or need a better system for storing tools in the garage, don't overlook the benefits of going vertical. For lighter duty storage, over-the-door organizers will do the trick. They're great for craft supplies, beauty products, hair styling tools and even office stationery. For the garage, choose heavier duty shelves or a peg board system. Getting your stuff off the floor will instantly make your room feel larger. Bringing it up to eye level will help you find it when you need it. Just remember to put it back where it belongs when you're done.
[See: 15 Spring Home Maintenance Tips.]
3. Organize your junk drawers. In your house, you probably have at least one junk drawer filled with miscellaneous stuff (old keys, spare batteries for the garage door opener, expired coupons, et cetera ). Spring cleaning season is a great time to do a deep clean of that drawer (or drawers) and toss out the expired coupons and old keys and find a proper home for the spare batteries.
4. Maintain a donation box. Prepare a tote or cardboard box that's only for holding stuff you intend to donate. As you go about your daily life, or as the seasons change, make sure to put anything that might be donated into this box. Gently used clothing, the spatula you never use or even old electronics might wind up in the donation box. When the box is full, take it to your favorite local charity that accepts secondhand goods. Be sure to get a receipt for your donation -- you're entitled to a tax deduction for the fair market value of goods you donate to a qualified nonprofit.
5. Create inboxes for clutter. If the family room or the kids' playroom tend to fill up with clutter, make cleaning it easy with designated "clutter boxes." Like with paper inboxes, don't worry too much about sorting and filing what goes in -- just clean it off the floor or counter and put it into the box. Organize your clutter boxes or bins once a week by returning things to their proper places, just as you would with a paper inbox. It's not the most elegant solution (that would be keeping things in their places when not in use), but it's convenient, and it keeps your room clean.
6. Create a bulk purchases closet. If you shop the warehouse clubs frequently, that extra stock might be taking up space in your kitchen, your guest room or your living room. Create a designated area in your house for warehouse club and bulk purchases, such as a corner of the garage or an empty hallway closet. Set up your storage space with wire shelving and keep your goods in storage until you're ready to use them. This will keep your clutter out of the way -- and if you keep your shelves organized, you'll never need to guess about what you need to buy, and what you don't. A quick glance before your next visit to the warehouse, and you'll know exactly what you need.
Sabah Karimi is a columnist for the blog Wise Bread, where you can find consumer tips like how to select the best balance transfer credit cards. Her personal finance articles have appeared on Time Magazine, MSN Money, Business Insider, AOL Finance, Yahoo Finance and USA Today. Sabah is the author of Financial Fitness for Freelancers, which helps freelancers learn how to thrive on a irregular income.