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Video:How to De-Clutter Your Home

with Anne-Marie Barton

Has your home been taken over by piles of paper and general clutter? We have a few tips for taking control of the mess and cutting out clutter altogether.See Transcript

Transcript:How to De-Clutter Your Home

A place for everything and everything in its place. Sounds dreamy, doesn't it? With a little work and a dash of discipline, you can turn this dream into reality. For many of us, reducing clutter and getting organized requires a leap of faith, faith in your family, faith in your potential for change, faith in yourself. I'm here to tell you that you don't have to take baby steps to change your family's habits. Here's an 8-step plan that works.

8 Steps to De-Clutter Your Home

  1. Never touch a piece of paper more than once. This sounds extreme, I know, but it really works. Why not file items immediately before they pile up?
  2. If you haven't worn it in two years, get rid of it. To help family members through this sometimes painful process, remove everything from their closets. Separate the items you think should go, and let them make the final decision, getting started is easier when your belongings are out there for the world to see.
  3. Designate a keepsake drawer or basket. When those special drawings come home from preschool, or that blue ribbon or acceptance letter...put it right into the basket. Periodically, make a fun family event out of unloading the box into the kids' individual bins. They decide what to keep; you get rid of clutter
  4. Assign an art drawer. Rather than having markers, crayons and paints scattered around the house, keep creativity close at hand by keeping all your art supplies within arm's reach.
  5. Be specific about chores. Adherence to weekly chores has a way of fading as the house descends into chaos. A vague request like "clean your room" doesn't always get the response you were hoping for. Simplify things by requesting specific jobs, such as "Do one load of whites," or "Wipe down your desk." Remind kids with a chore list or sticky note on the fridge. Keep tasks varied and direct kids to do the hard stuff first. And, offer a reward for a job well done.
  6. Place an attractive bin at the bottom of the stairs, or, if you have a single-story home, in a public room. Throw in anything that needs to be put away upstairs or in bedrooms, so it doesn't end up littering the house. Empty the box daily. You can also put boxes in every closet and retire outgrown or other giveaway items as you spot them.
  7. Deal with display items. If your collections, craft fair buys or family heirlooms are turning into a tchotchke-fest, do a major purge. First, remove all non-functional items from every surface of your house. Next, lay everything out where you can really see it. Get rid of anything redundant, damaged or just plain unappealing (you'll be surprised by how much of that there is!). Finally, develop a plan, ideally a seasonal one, for displaying cherished items. You'll still get to see everything you love-just not all at once.
  8. Put a lid on newspaper and magazine clutter. Paper media piles up faster than you can say "unwanted catalog." One way to cope is to place all incoming reading material into kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedside racks. The key is to use small containers. That way, they'll fill up fast-in about the time it takes to read them-and you'll be forced to recycle them to make room for new issues.
Changing your life from cluttered to clean does require some effort. Luckily, the payoff is worth it-a neat, orderly house that makes coming home the best part of the day.

I'm Anne-Marie Barton, About Home & Garden.
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