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8 Helpful Hacks to Declutter Your Life—Stat!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated, then stop for a second and take a look around your space right now. Is it chic and neat or cluttered and chaotic? Since you clicked through to read this story, we’re going to take a calculated assumption that it’s the latter, which could be part of the reason your life is feeling a little out of control. Having a productive and pretty space can make all the difference to your workflow and overall mood. So it’s time to finally get rid of your clutter once and for all. We've collated all the helpful hacks to show you how.

Start with five minutes a day.

Clearing away the clutter can seem like such a daunting task when there's a mountain of items to remove, and who has the time to do all of it at once? That's why we love Leo Babauta of Zen Habits' five-minute philosophy. This baby-steps approach asks you to take just five minutes from your day, every day, and tackle one thing at a time. You might think five minutes will barely put a dent in the monumental mess, but it's a start and he says it's important to celebrate that. His website has listed 18 five-minute challenges you can start today.

Apply the one in, one out philosophy.

It's amazing how much one person or small family can accumulate over time, without even realizing it. Before you know it, your kitchen drawers are spilling over with random items, old bills, string, rubber bands, kids toys, and who knows what else. Colleen Madsen's (of 365 Less Things) clutter reduction blog came up with the one in, one out rule. So for every item that comes into your home, something else should go out in turn. She writes, "The one in item does not need to match the one out item, although to make a difference it would need to be of a least equal size or, better still, bigger. Although it generally works out that they are similar items because it is usually that you are replacing one item with another." Sounds easier said than done; we say give it a try, you might be surprised.

Take the 12-12-12 challenge.

If you really want to get serious about organizing your home or workspace, Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist asks you to consider his 12-12-12 challenge. This relatively simple task—in theory, at least—asks you to locate "12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home." Becker says he likes to turn this challenge into a fun competition for the whole family. 

Carl Auböck Magazine Stand ($2800)

Learn how to see the clutter.

Sometimes your home or workspace can be what my husband likes to call "aesthetically clean," which really means it just looks the part, but secretly clutter is lurking behind closed cupboards, drawers, and hidden doors. Unclutterer says it can be difficult to “see” the clutter in our spaces. "We sense clutter, but as we move through our regular lives we lose sight of it," writes editor in chief Erin Doland. They have listed several strategies to help you spot the clutter in spaces, such as inviting your friends over for a party. When you know that people will be in your home, it helps you really think about how you want them to feel in that space and what you want them to see.

Anthropologie Abaca Spiral Basket ($148)

Give your closet the Oprah Winfrey treatment.

PHOTO:  Reid Rolls for MyDomaine, design by Benjamin Vandiver

When your home needs a good clear-out, your closet is one of the first places to start, but it's also one of the hardest. Even if we haven't worn something in a while, there's always that what if in the back of your mind, but realistically, if you haven't worn something in the last six months, there's every chance you never will. So to find out which pieces you really don't wear enough to warrant keeping them, we suggest you try out the Oprah Winfrey closet hanger experiment. While she didn't create the genius concept, she certainly made it popular.

Here's how it works. Hang all of your clothes with the hangers turned in the reverse direction. Then once you've worn an item of clothing, put it back in your closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. Do this for six months, after which you will definitely know which clothes you wear often enough to keep, and which ones you can easily get rid of. This experiment isn't just for clothing either. Try applying it to other places in your home, the kids room is another great place to use this.

Clear out your pantry and start from scratch.

There's nothing worse than loose half-opened spice packets, condiment bottles with a lick of sauce left, and flour that hasn't been transferred to a container and subsequently sprays dust everywhere each time you retrieve it. With holidays around the corner, it's time to get organized once and for all. According to organizing and de-cluttering guru Nicole Anzia of Neatnik, that means clearing everything out and starting from scratch. "The best way to restore order is to remove everything, wipe off the shelves, toss expired items and then begin restocking," she told The Washington Post. "Categorize and sort items. Nuts, rice, noodles, dried fruit and other things that come in upright sealable plastic bags can be held together in long rectangular containers. Snacks for kids and lunchbox items should also be grouped together and put in bins to make them easy to find."

Williams-Sonoma Open Kitchen Galvanized Bucket ($20)

Create a toy library.

Just imagine if we were taught declutter-forming habits from an early age? Our homes and workplaces would be incredibly pretty and organized all the time, and we'd probably be more efficient humans too. So you owe it to your children to teach them these habits early on. Enter the toy library. Sort all the toys into labeled bins or storage crates in a designated area of your house. The basic premise is that you can't take new toys out unless you put the same number of toys back into the toy library. This means there will be fewer toys scattered everywhere and more toys inside the bins. It might take some repetition, and a lot of patience to begin with, but inviting them to take on that responsibility of knowing where things go will give your kids a sense of pride. The end result is to make it so habitual that it becomes automatic, then you can enjoy a clutter-free home—well that's the aim at least. 

Serena and Lily Rolling Storage Crates ($88)

Throw away the visual clutter—immediately.

There's nothing more distracting than clutter you can see. For some reason, all those bits and pieces just make a room feel so chaotic. To prevent this from happening, Janet Schiesl of Basic Organization says you should get rid of the things you don't want or need immediately. "Since you won’t be sorry to let those things go, get them out of your house first," she said. That means throwing out unsolicited mail as soon as you take it out of the mailbox because it doesn't deserve to be on your kitchen counter or side table.

What are your top tips for clearing clutter? 

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