how to: declutter

Today my friend Salena, over from McKay Moments, is here to give us some awesome delutterizing tips.  (Yes... declutterizing is totally a word... I'm claiming it.)  I definitely need to take notes on #4 and #9... hoping to put Salena's how-to tips into action very, very soon...
Hi, everyone! I am very excited to be posting here this week while Julia is away. Julia and I know each other through our husbands, and boy, could I tell some stories about the two of them from way back in church youth group, but that's another story! Anyway, my post is kind of long, but I think you will find some simple and practical tips that you can incorporate into your own family's life just like my family has. Happy decluttering!  - Salena

1. Have a place for everything. Think about where the items are used and how they are related to each other. Remember that not all storage has to be hidden, contrary to my grandmother's belief. After having our son, we added this hanging rack near our door. It's perfect for the diaper bag, my purse, and my husband's keys.

2. Purchase storage that is visually pleasing and can be used in more than one way when possible. You will be more likely to put things where they belong. I personally love this storage ottoman in my living room because it not only goes with our decor, but it's the perfect place for our son's toys and it serves as extra seating when we have guests over.

3. Don't be afraid to have a "junk" drawer or two around the house. We all have those miscellaneous items that we don't know what to do with. A food utensil tray, drawer divider, or old baby food jars can work wonders. Just don't forget to clean out unneeded items from time to time!

4. When making purchases for your home, envision where you are going to put an item before you even buy it. Ask yourself if it is necessary and if it will be used and enjoyed by your family in the long run. This will not only help with keeping your home clutter-free, but it will also help your wallet!

5. Invest in a paper shredder and file cabinet, and create some type of mail station in a convenient location that the whole family can use. Get in the habit of sorting mail as soon as it comes in and set aside one day a week to file and shred papers as needed. Our mail station looks like this. Bills are in the holder to the right, and we have a small whiteboard nearby where we post when bills are due so we don't forget.

6. Don't be afraid to sell or donate items your family no longer needs or uses. There are some great resources out there, depending on where you live. Also, there is nothing wrong with regifting an item as long as it is in good condition and works properly!

7. Never leave a room without putting something away as you go. If you are a parent, begin teaching this even when they are babies. They will love it when they are little, and it will become a habit that you (and their future spouses) will appreciate as they get older.

8. Allow time in your daily schedule for the following- wiping down the kitchen and bathroom countertops, sinks, and toilets, and sweeping the floors. I know it's not a fun task, but if you do it daily, you are spending 10 minutes tops, where as if you let it go, you are spending much longer. Also, it keeps down the germs, and that equals less sick time!

9. Rinse and wash your dishes as soon as possible after every meal. This is personally one of the hardest things for me to do, and I have a dishwasher! However, when my dishes are rinsed and put away, it just makes my whole house feel cleaner.

10. Schedule some time to do some major decluttering at least twice a year. I am a teacher, so Christmas break and summer break work best for me. I make a list of some bigger decluttering projects that I want to tackle (such as cleaning out my son's toy box, organizing and labeling photos, or cleaning out clothes from my closet I haven't worn in a year or more), and I give myself a reasonable timeline for completing these tasks. When I am finished, I treat myself to something nice like a pedicure or a new book for my Kindle (which is another way to help keep down the clutter!)