You just got rid of your last bag of stuff that didn’t sparky joy à la Marie Kondo, and now your house is a streamlined dream. According to top organizing pros and minimalist gurus, keeping it that way is easier than you might think. Don’t believe us? It’s true. We got the best in the business to offer their favorite simple tips on how to declutter—all you need to do is find an extra five or 10 minutes to make it happen. Keep reading to see them all.
Put your clothes away.
Houzz contributor and organizing professional Patricia Lee says one of the easiest ways to make sure your house has less clutter is to put your clothes away. Hang them up, put them in the dirty clothes, stash the folded stuff in your drawers. It only takes a couple of minutes at the end of the day, yet it allows you to maintain a clean space.
Finish the quick tasks ASAP.
According to Joshua Becker, author of the best-selling The Minimalist Home, clutter is often a result of procrastination—decisions put off or small jobs left unfinished. His simple rule? “If a job can be completed in less than two minutes, do it now. Take the garbage out, scrub the pot, return the remote control, or place your dirty clothes in the hamper. Every time you see a task all the way to completion, a source of clutter is avoided.”
Get the kids involved.
Joni and Kitt from LA-based organizing firm Practically Perfect suggest getting the rest of your family in on the daily action. "Kids are more than capable of completing a few tasks each day to maintain a tidy home. Placing their shoes into a basket by the door, hanging their backpacks and coats on a hook, tossing their dirty laundry into the proper place... When the right systems are set up, it's easy and fun!"
Make a clean sweep.
Think of all those flat surfaces around the house—the desk, the counter, the table. Cheryl Smith, the owner of Consider It Done, a home organization company, emphasizes how important it is to keep these areas clean. Not only are those surfaces magnets for random stuff that doesn't get put away, but when they are clear, it's easier to clean!
Keep a box at the ready.
One super easy way to deal with clutter as it occurs? Keep a box handy for donations. Natalie Wise, author of The Modern Organic Home: 100+ DIY Cleaning Products, Organization Tips, and Household Hacks, says it’ll be easier to actually get stuff out of your house that way because “as you go about your daily tasks, anything you can purge has a spot to go immediately.”
Stash your stuff.
In theory, open-plan shelving sound incredible. In reality, having to keep it looking like it did in your Pinterest dreams is well, hard. Cleaning pro and entrepreneur of Chore Bliss, Jack Prenter, suggests getting a few storage boxes instead. “On a daily basis, take everything that's on the floor and put them back into the storage box. Rather than having to neatly organize things because they are visible, you can throw them in there and hide them away, saving yourself a huge amount of time.”
Ditch the little things.
Kelly Jane McCann, The Organizing Maven, suggests doing a sweep once a week to get rid of the little things. She says “take 10 minutes to move through your space and remove all the items that are past their useful life. It’s what we call the low hanging fruit—it's the no longer useful, the expired, the broken, and the abandoned. Often these items are just plain rubbish, like empty shampoo bottles left on shower ledge, expired grocery flyers, or packaging left over from mail orders. If you don't take action on these items they quickly become clutter.”
Learn how to multitask.
Sarah Giller Nelson, decluttering pro and owner of Less Is More suggests to do two things at once, like clearing out a kitchen drawer while you are waiting for coffee to brew, or de-cluttering the kids' medicine cabinet while you are waiting for the bathtub to fill.
Take care of the packaging.
With Amazon and other online shopping options, organizers are seeing more and more packaging laying around homes. Professional organizer Nonnahs Driskill of Get Organized Already stresses the importance of getting boxes out of the house as soon as possible. “This is a new category of clutter I am finding in every house I visit,” she says. The tradeoff? “Consider the hassle of breaking down your boxes and separating trash from recycling as a trade-off for not having to drive to the store to shop.”
Change the way you buy.
If you want to keep more stuff from coming in, then, according to Denaye Barahona of Simple Families, you need to change the way you buy for the family. “Once you declutter, the only way to stay decluttered is to buy more intentionally,” she says.
Only keep the stuff you use every day on hand.
Another great tip from Simple Families is to make sure anything in your command center/mud room are items that you use every single day. These spots often become literal drop zones for things that go discarded or are left to collect dust, therefore cluttering your space. “Turn it into an active space instead of using it as a storage space,” says Barahona.
Set a timer.
Trying to declutter can be overwhelming. Felice Cohen, author, Professional Organizer and Motivational Speaker suggests giving yourself a set amount of time to tackle a space. “Set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes, half an hour, an hour, depending on your energy, then work in one area. When the timer goes off, stop, you're done. This eliminates the feel of having to do too much at once. What often happens is you're motivated by the progress you've done, so in that case, reset the timer and go again.”