How I Found Freedom from Clutter

I am finished with the packrat thing! Actually, I had no choice because for one reason or another, ever since moving into my tiny 300 square foot apartment during college, I have always lived in smaller spaces and had to learn to live with less.  

My apartment was so small that I had to wash my standard-size pan at an angle so it would fit into the sink!

My husband and I have moved up since then, but our space is still pretty small and that’s OK. We’ve learned a lot of tricks about living with less, and we waste no time getting rid of what we don’t need. I’m happy to say that we both love the feeling of freedom that we get by not being burdened with a lot of clutter and stuff. Here are our easiest tricks:

Junk mail goes straight to the recycle bin. We don’t even open junk mail – it goes directly into the recycle bin. That’s because piled up mail is one of the fastest ways that clutter builds. Here’s our rule: The moment I walk in the door at home or my office with the mail, I stand next to a table and open and sort the mail. Junk mail and promotional fliers go straight in the recycle bin, along with the opened envelopes from the real mail, and credit card offers go straight to the shredder. My next step is to immediately file bank statements, and place bills in a temporary bin to be paid. Nothing important gets lost, and I don’t have bits of paper lying around. 

Create a filing system that works for you. Don’t believe what you see advertised. There is no single organizing system that fits all. Everyone has different organizing methods that work and you should play around with methods that work for you. The key is to make your system super easy, so you don’t get bogged down trying to remember where you filed what. In my case, I have a large accordion file at home for filing personal documents, which I purge each year after we file our taxes (keeping only the important tax information we would need if we ever get audited). At work, most of my files are digital (which cuts the clutter on its own), but the paperwork that I do have is kept in a small locked filing cabinet. I don’t keep papers on my desk unless I’m in the middle of working on them.

Clear the kitchen counters. Our kitchen is seriously small! There’s just not enough room to store anything on the counters, and also cook. So I came up with a brilliant solution. I put a bookcase in the kitchen, added a tensioned curtain rod, and hung a curtain panel across the front. Beautiful! All of the storage is covered. I use the bookshelf to store cookbooks and most appliances such as toaster, crockpot, food processor, and KitchenAid. They’re easy to access when I need them, but they’re also not cluttering the countertops, so I have maximum food prep space!

Don’t forget the joy. When my husband and I did a huge purge awhile ago, we were able to get rid of tons of stuff in record time by asking ourselves one key question for every item we weren’t sure about: “Does this item spark joy?” We learned about this from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying UpThe way to use this is very simple – don’t analyze. Just ask the question and go with your gut response. It’s pretty black and white. Get out of your head and into your gut. If you stay in your head you’ll go around in circles, rationalizing and analyzing. And that’s how clutter piles up. So go with your gut!

What are your methods for getting rid of clutter? Please share!

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