15 Easy and Effective Ways to Keep Clutter at Bay

The best defense is a good offense, right? Stop the mess before it begins with these tried-and-true organization tips.

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March 28, 2019
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Go Storage-Less in the Living Room

Consider this the First Law of Clutter: Excess space attracts excess items. For example, if your coffee table comes equipped with drawers or lower shelves, you'll inevitably fill these spots with books, decorative goods, remote controls, stray toys, etc. It's just the way of the universe. To lower the amount of clutter in your living room, then, choose a coffee table that's simple and streamlined, without any storage.

Stay Within The Tray

On that note, you can always use a serving tray to corral loose items like remotes, video game controllers, coasters and candles. By confining these items to one spot, you'll not only make your living room look more organized, but also create a stylish boundary that clutter's not allowed to pass.

Style Those Flat Surfaces

It's tempting to put bills, magazines and other mail on top of bookshelves and dressers, but impossible to do so if those spaces are already occupied. So we suggest styling any flat surfaces with picture frames or planters. Having these pretty and permanent items in the way will give you no choice but to sort through your documents and put them in their proper places.

Create a Mail-Sorting System

Honestly, the best way to get ahead of your mail is to create a sorting system. Keep it simple, and hang two files on the side of your island: one for bills and cards that need to be addressed, the other for flyers that can be tossed in the trash.

Simplify Your Nightstands

Studies show that we sleep better in distraction-free settings, and yet our nightstands are often overflowing with accessories, books and electronics. To prevent clutter from building up in your bedroom, consider outfitting your space with side tables that only have room for the essentials.

Limit Your Number of Hangers

If your closet's bursting at the seams, try reducing the number of hangers that you have readily available. With limited spots for your clothes, you'll have to prioritize the items you actually wear over the ones that have simply been gathering dust. This technique might also help you be more intentional about future purchases, as you'll have to ask yourself if you're willing to sacrifice a spot for your favorite sweater to a new blouse.

Make a Donation Drop Zone

While you're purging your wardrobe, put a basket or bin in the corner of your bedroom for the sole purpose of collecting donations. This "drop zone" will give you a temporary place for those items you no longer use and, more importantly, remind you to actually take them to your local donation center.

Put Your Accents to Work

Another simple way to combat clutter? Consolidate whenever possible. For example, if you're going to keep decorative baskets and bins around your home, use them to store towels and washcloths in the bathroom or to corral toys in the kids' playroom.

Upgrade to Digital Picture Frames

Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can now showcase hundreds of your favorite family photos in a single digital picture frame. So, instead of weighing down your walls with dozens of images, consider investing in one of these devices. You'll be able to see your favorite faces and lighten the look of your home at the same time.

Draft Erasable Lists

One of the smartest things we ever did at my house was trade our notepad for a dry erase board. Now, instead of leaving grocery lists and to-do lists on our counters, we write everything down on the board, snap a photo for our shopping trip and erase the list when we no longer need it. Chalkboards can help eliminate paper clutter as well.

Put Files Front and Center

While it's important to save bills, receipts and other personal records, it's almost too easy to lose them in a stack on your desk. Our advice? Get a corkboard or metal memo tray and put those papers front and center. The sooner you single them out, the sooner you'll scan and save them to your computer. Don't forget to shred the hard copies after.

Purchase Clear Containers

How many times have you purchased a replacement for your favorite studs or necklace, only to discover that piece of jewelry was actually hidden in the bottom of your trinket tray? A clear container will help you see your entire collection and spare you the stress of unnecessarily duplicating items.

Lift Your Kitchen Utensils

Kitchen utensil holders are convenient, but when they're sitting next to appliances, knife sets and other objects, they make our countertops look messy and leave little room for meal-prep. To save space, lift your utensils up and out of the way. A series of hooks will keep those items close without letting them encroach on your territory.

Make Flowers a Focal Point

Here's a clever trick straight from the professionals: Put a vase full of fresh flowers on your dining room table. Even if the table isn't set, the vase will give the illusion that the space is in use, and so no one will disrupt it with stray items.

Hang Up Your House Keys

Sure, you could toss your keys into a bowl, but loose change and other small items are likely to follow. Instead, invest in a wall mount with hooks; a piece like this will take up very little space but keep your entryway neat and tidy.