With all of the Marie Kondo chatter and the fresh start of a new year, just about EVERYONE is talking about decluttering. So instead of simply sharing my tips as a Virgo who makes a trip to Goodwill at least once a week to get rid of clutter, I called in Sarah Parisi, the Clutter Curator. She is a holistic home organizer who works with clients who are ready to make a change so that they can devote more time to their families, hobbies, and other activities that create happiness. Here are Sarah’s tips for how to live with less and love it:
Decluttering Tip #1
This is not a one person job. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE should get involved in order to share the workload and instill life skills. Organization is not a natural gift for most so take this time to teach your kids and family the art of organizing.
- Teach and Delegate.
- Make it fun with music and timers to help little ones view cleaning up a “game”.
Decluttering Tip #2
Don’t let clutter come close to your home. This means being mindful while shopping, when leaving a party, and while saying “yes” to friends that are always offloading their clutter on to you.
- After 24 hours, toss the birthday party loot that your child comes home with that they won’t use and most importantly, won’t remember.
- Receive holiday gifts that aren’t your style? Exchange them for something you really want or donate it.
- Don’t keep anything (gifts, mementos, etc.) that make you feel guilty. We have enough stress in our lives, we don’t need things in our homes holding us back.
Decluttering Tip #3
Do a home sweep once a week. Start from one end of your home with a bin to collect anything that belongs elsewhere. As you walk from one space to the next, place items in the correct zone or room. This way everything is in its zone when you start to organize each space, allowing you to see everything that needs to be stored. This also helps when you are making decisions on what stays and what goes.
- Making this a weekly event ensures that it is quick to do
- Delegate a task to everyone in your family
- Do a deeper dive every season, looking through closets and cabinets to remove any clutter that has accumulated. This is an activity to remove unneeded items and to relocate items to their correct space. Organizing each space happens after this process.
Ways to keep your home organized all year long
Photo by Sarah Parisi
Make sure you “reset” this space after using it. Holding yourself accountable is key. Put on some upbeat music, pour yourself your favorite drink and GET IT DONE.
- Place cooking utensils in a drawer rather than on your countertop is one simple way to open up space.
- Store blenders and toasters in a cabinet if they aren’t used daily. I love using my kitchen island to store non-everyday items.
- Keep like items together. Place mugs right above the coffee marking so you don’t have to run in circles to start each morning.
- Work to eat through your pantry and freezer every 3-6 months. Make sure you are only storing food that you enjoy and will eat.
- Organize your pantry like a grocery store to allow you to shop in your own pantry. Placing baking all together, grains and carbs, can goods and snacks in labeled zones makes it easy for the whole family to find items. Also, you can take a quick glance before running to the store to see what you are running low on.
- Open up space by donating food that you no longer like or is not part of your diet. While working with clients we focus on removing any food that is not supporting their overall health. I allow myself a treat here and there but never bring it into my home…that’s my safe space from temptation.
- Use bins for snacks or small loose items that take up extra space in your pantry.
Speciality tools and appliances:
- If you have a slow cooker, Instant pot and rice maker think about where you can downsize. Kitchen real estate is so valuable, make sure you aren’t storing anything that does not hold its weight.
- Items that are used once a year should be stored elsewhere if possible or in the top section of your cabinets. This will open up the usable and easy to reach space in your kitchen.
- Small appliances and tools should be stored in one area of your kitchen. This way all the electronic tools are in one spot easy to find.
Kids school work and artwork:
- Sort through this daily to make sure assignments aren’t forgotten. I suggest using a whiteboard noting key dates and assignment for each kid. This is a great way to take a quick look every morning to make sure nothing is missed.
- Artwork can be hard to let go of for most parents. I suggest having a box to hold each child’s masterpieces and going through it every 6-12 months. The goal is only to hold on to the best of the best so you can highlight these pieces. A great tool many families use is artkive.comto make beautiful art books each year.
- The key is simple, go through it every day. It will take a few short moments and you’ll be avoiding hours of pain.
- Toss flyers and offers that you do not need, leaving you with the few pieces of mail that you actually want to look at.
- Either go through the mail that you need to read at that time or put it to the side to look through before the end of the week.
- Look to see what can be paperless. Ask yourself if you actually review certain bills and make notes on the paper copy, if not change them to paperless and review online.
- Put actionable items in one place with dates marked on them. Some clients find it helpful to add notes in their calendar to make sure key payments are not forgotten.
Photo by Quentin & Co.
Simply put…if you want your kids to be able to put items away make it easy for them. Color coding the legos might be satisfying but trust that your efforts will be short lived.
- Make a bin for cars, small toys, soft toys, art supplies, and other popular items in your space. Keeping it simple so your kids won’t have to think too much as they are learning where items should go.
- Make sure the amount of toys in the play room is manageable for your kids. There are so many studies that speak about kids playing longer and more focused when they have less to choose from.
- Teach your kids to put items away once they are done. This may be painful in the beginning but creating new habits takes time.
Photo by Emily Henderson
An entryway is prime real estate and can give visitors a first impression of your home. Edit it ruthlessly, including season appropriate items and using clear storage systems to manage what can be a chaotic space in your home.
- The key here is to set up a system that will work for your family. Either bins by category (hats, gloves, umbrellas) or a cubby for each family member.
- Make sure there are hooks or bins at a height that is easy for your kids to use.
- Make a clear zone for each person or category and assign a weekly task to each family member to ensure the space is managed.
Photo by Sarah Parisi
This is the holiest of holy spaces in your home. Yet so many of my clients have work, bills, art projects, clothes from high school and so much more filling their space. Since this is where you start and end each day, you need it to be light and clean.
- Removing clutter from surfaces such as bed side tables will change your mood and overall morning and nightly routine.
- Let go of clothes that are out of style, you no longer fit into, or simply never choose to wear. The amount of worth we put on items that don’t serve us is exhausting. It’s just a piece of cloth that can bring someone else happiness since it clearly isn’t bringing you any joy. Tackle closet clutter by organizing by clothing category and color coding if you are really up for the task.
- Reduce the amount of books and magazines on your night stand to only a month’s worth of reading materials. You want to enjoy your reading time and not feel like you are falling behind in your internal goal to read it all.
Remember that living with less is not a fad diet, it is a lifestyle change. It will take some time and you will undoubtedly have some setbacks. Remember the goal is to own less, so you can organize less, which opens up space for all the good stuff life has to offer. Contact Sarah here and learn how to live with less and love it.