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How to win the battle against clutter

How to win the battle against clutter
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Clutter happens. It’s a fact of life, especially when we’re tired, rushing around, and have way too many things on our minds. But that doesn’t mean we should resign ourselves to having a cluttered home. The key to getting things under control is tackling clutter hot spots every day so the mess doesn’t become overwhelming. This is definitely one of the organising tips you’ll wish you knew (and abided by) all along.

The good news is that decluttering every day isn’t hard and doesn’t take much time. In fact, these 12 tiny tasks take just a moment and make a big difference. Keep in mind: This isn’t about taking on major chores; it’s about consistently taking care of the little things that pile up. Here’s what professional organisers do to keep their stuff from taking over their lives.

The clothes pile

The clothes pile
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Don’t consider the laundry finished until all the clothes are put away. This is something that Janine Adams, a certified professional organiser, always tells her clients and reminds herself. Whether the clothes have been stranded in the basket after a laundry cycle or tossed in a pile after a last-minute outfit change, they need to be dealt with before you turn in for the night. Otherwise, you’ll leave them there for way too long and end up with a bunch of wrinkled items. Having trouble putting everything away? Adams says that’s a sign it’s probably time to let some of them go.

Hanging up clothes will be a much faster task when you don’t have to untangle empty hangers. Instead of leaving them in your closet, keep them organised on a nearby hanger organiser. This will also motivate you to get to the task at hand, since the hangers are right there, just waiting to be used.

While you’re at it, find out 9 genius ways to organise your closet. 

Leftovers

Leftovers
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Keep your refrigerator clutter-free by using up leftovers before they go bad. Professional organiser Ellen Delap suggests writing out a weekly meal plan that incorporates your leftovers. For example, if you roast chicken on a Monday, plan to use whatever you didn’t eat in a pasta dish on Tuesday. Her pro tip is to keep leftover food front and centre on a dedicated shelf so it’s not forgotten about.

Watch out for these 11 leftovers that can make you sick. 

Shoes by the door

Shoes by the door
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The first thing you want to do when you get home is kick off your shoes. The problem is, so does everyone else, and then suddenly you have an enormous, messy pile cluttering your entryway. That’s why certified professional organiser Kathy Vines, author of Clever Girl’s Guide to Living with Less, suggests designating a special place for everyone’s shoes – ideally, a separate basket for each person in your household. Since a bunch of baskets can form their own sort of clutter, a bench with a built-in spot for baskets is a good option. (If you have a larger family, you can opt for a storage tower that provides additional basket space.) But wait! You’re not done just yet. Vine says you should also give each basket a once-over every day to return extra pairs to the closet. Trust us: With one pair of go-to shoes waiting by the door when you’re in a rush, you’ll be glad to have this system in place.

These are the 20 things professional organisers would never do in their own homes.

The car

The car
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Clutter tends to accumulate when you don’t take care of it right away because you simply get used to it. Don’t make that mistake in your car. Instead, suggests Vines, once you get to your destination, park your car and take any rubbish with you as soon as you exit. Get into the habit and it won’t feel like a chore; it’ll just be something you do without thinking. “It’s a lot easier to keep your car maintained and clean if you’re regularly getting rid of the trash,” Vines says.

To that end, it’s a good idea to keep a small, makeshift rubbish bin, like an empty wipes’ container, right next to you. A clever cup holder attached to the centre console can provide a spot for that, as well as for an actual cup, your phone, hand sanitiser and anything else you want to keep close by.

Here are 15 cleaning secrets only car detailers know. 

Mail

Mail
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The simplest way to manage your mail is to deal with every piece of it as soon as you can. DeLap’s daily five-minute triage prevents unsightly clutter and ensures you don’t miss something important. Designate a “command centre” for your paperwork with a shredder, recycling bag, and a way to categorise mail. She suggests an accordion file for paperwork you need with labels like “to-do,” “to pay,” and “to file.”

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Everyday stuff

Everyday stuff
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Vines has a specific spot to store things she uses every day, like her keys, sunglasses and earbuds. Upon returning home, she places the items right where they belong. “It can be so easy with running around and disrupted routines to lose sight of our most critical items,” she explains. A lidless basket hung from on the wall will do the trick, and if there are multiple people in the house, it’s a good idea to give each of them their own basket. Make sure the baskets don’t become untidy by taking a moment every day to straighten them up, discarding old receipts and anything else that doesn’t belong in there.

The entryway

The entryway
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The floor of your main entryway and nearby chairs can quickly become a dumping ground for coats and bags. DeLap’s solution is to hang a series of decorative or peel-and-stick hooks (for the appropriate weight) to hold coats and bags near the door you use most often. This will go a long way toward keeping the passageway clear. Just make sure to keep the number of coats and bags down to one per person by going over the area once a day. That way you won’t overload the hooks and accidentally make that area an eyesore.

The kitchen benchtop

The kitchen benchtop
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To avoid cluttering up your sink and benchtop, put your dirty dishes right into the dishwasher. This is Adams’ daily routine, which she swears by: Run the dishwasher every night, and empty it every morning. That way, the dishwasher is always available for dirty dishes; plus, no more guessing about whether the dishes in the dishwasher are dirty or clean!

Don’t miss these 30 ways to save space at home.

The daily to-do list

The daily to-do list
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A lengthy to-do list may feel productive when you write it out, but it can soon feel overwhelming and that can lead you to ignore it. A simplified to-do list, on the other hand, can keep you on track. DeLap consults her calendar and writes out her list based on priorities for the day. This short, focused list gives her clear direction. Whether you use a paper calendar or a digital version, get in the habit of checking it daily. And if you use a paper one, DeLap suggests keeping it in the same spot so you always know where to find it.

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