Clearing Clutter:
Avoid the "Pack Rat" Mentality

Getting rid of clutter will make your life run more smoothly, and have a positive impact on your mental health. Especially with a rough economy, it's easy to get wrapped up in the pack rat mentality. To break out of this frame of mind and get organized, you should:

  • Set aside time to complete the task
  • Gather the necessary tools for the job
  • Enlist help from household members
  • Create a cleaning schedule to maintain your organized space

Getting rid of clutter is not only important for keeping our homes organized and running smoothly; it's also important to our emotional health. You might not see the connection between clearing clutter and your moods, but in truth, having a messy and disorganized home can actually be quite stressful. This is especially true in times of economic turmoil, when more and more people begin to hoard and collect things as a way to counteract the fears that come along with economic instability.

It's important, though, not to let an excessive attachment to material things cloud your judgment when it comes to getting rid of clutter. Here are some simple steps for clearing clutter that can help save you time, hassle, and stress, while at the same time helping you feel more emotionally stable in an uncluttered environment.

To begin, set aside a time when you will have an uninterrupted stretch of time to devote to clearing clutter out of your home. Start by creating a list of the biggest organizing projects in your home that you want to tackle, for example, kids' clothing, your desk top, or the kitchen drawers and cupboards. Start with these areas first, and make a small investment in tools specifically designed to help you organize these areas, a closet organizer for the kids' bedroom, file cabinet for your office, or cupboard and drawer organizers for your kitchen.

Whatever organizing project you are undertaking, start by gathering all of your items and sorting them into three groups: keep, give away, and throw away. You can also have a fourth category if you plan to sell items online, at a yard sale, or one consignment. Once you've determined which items you will be getting rid of, get them out of your living space. This could mean bagging them up and putting them in the garage, or loading them into the car for delivery to the thrift store. But only once you have them out of sight and out of mind can you begin to organize what's left behind.

Once you've gone through the process of getting rid of clutter in each room of your home, you'll need to maintain a clutter free space. Especially if you have children, then you know that clutter accumulates quickly simply because you can't handle the volume of stuff all on your own. This is why it's important to enlist your family members when it comes to getting rid of clutter. Even young kids can get in on the act, as long as you provide age appropriate tasks.

A cleaning schedule is one of the best ways to maintain a clutter free environment. Try creating a schedule that outlines weekly and monthly tasks for clearing clutter from your home, and that divides these tasks evenly among the members of your household. Each family member can be assigned a task ? say taking out garbage, dishes, laundry, and so on. This can help break the monotony of repetitive tasks. For example, you might clean the bathroom every Sunday, and do laundry on Wednesdays. Some tasks can be done monthly, like going through ad circulars, bills, and other paperwork, for example. The important thing to remember is to be proactive in creating a cleaning schedule, and making sure to stick to it.

The key to remaining clutter free is to be proactive about removing unnecessary items from your home. Avoid the temptation to save things that you think you might use someday. If it's been sitting around unused for months, chances are you'll never use it. Avoid buying things just because they're on sale, and don't allow general junk like mail and old newspapers to build up. Finally, share the load with the rest of your household when it comes to clearing clutter. Getting rid of clutter must be a team effort and will only work if you stick with it consistently.

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