3 Resources and Tips for De-Cluttering Your Living Space

This guest post was written by Doniree Walker, a blogger, yogini, foodie and freelance writer who I am happy to call a friend!

Three months ago, my boyfriend and I moved from separate places in Boulder, Colorado into a shared apartment in Portland, Oregon. He moved from a 5-bedroom house he shared with two roommates, and I moved from a spacious 2-bedroom apartment I shared with one other roommate. Needless to say, we both had plenty of space. And we both had plenty of things.

Our new apartment is 670-square feet (note: that’s not very big!), so we knew we had to weed out the unnecessary things in order to live in a clutter-free apartment. This involved multiple trips to Goodwill and selling all sorts of things on Craigslist. However, when we arrived, unpacked, and settled in, we realized we still had waaaaay too many things. See?

Thank goodness there are resources for people like me who want so desperately to de-clutter, simplify, and minimize! The easy answer is “own less stuff,” and that’s honestly what I’m trying to work towards, but I still have a way to go. In the meantime, here are a few tips and resources I’ve found for making the most of your apartment living space, and keeping it clean and clutter-free.

  1. Find the motivation. Realize that too much clutter adds to stress. Erin Rooney Doland is the Editor-in-Chief of Unclutterer.com, and in her book, “Unclutter Your Life in One Week” simply states, “Less stuff means less stress!” She’s right. A recent Newsweek article called “I Can’t Think!” explains how information-overload impairs our ability to make decisions. Not even good decisions, but decisions at all. The article focuses mostly on the information available to us in our age of technology, but visual stimulation can be and is just as stressful as thoughts and pieces of information. As we reduce our number of choices (number of shirts, number of coffee mugs, etc.), we increase our ease of making decisions. Clearing clutter out of my life has been a significant first step in the reduction of stress because, let’s face it – I take in enough information as it is between Twitter and blogs and television and music, that if I can keep my living space a clean and zen-like haven, I’m all for that. {editors note: see also Erin’s post here on GenPink: O is for Organizing}
  2. Start simple. Jenny Blake, author and editor of LifeAfterCollege.org, in her recently-released “Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want,” offers not only practical tips for de-cluttering your space, but an exercise in de-cluttering that I promise – not only can you find the time to do it, but you’ll be too motivated to do anything but CLEAN ALL THE THINGS! Through the exercise she asks questions such as, “What is the one area of your house or apartment that feels the most cluttered and/or unorganized?” and then has you consider the factors that contribute to that cluttered state (it’s the closest table to the door, you don’t have enough file folders, etc.). Finally, there’s an action step of actually getting up and doing something about the clutter, and I honestly closed the book at just that point and cleared off two cluttered surfaces in my apartment. The point? Pick one area, set a short time limit, and start there. That’s realistic.
  3. Set a schedule that works for you. Doland’s book includes suggested calendars and schedules for when to clean what and how much time to spend on each task. For me, this varies by week. Some weeks I have an entire afternoon to dedicate to cleaning my apartment, but that’s not always realistic. What is realistic is that I have at least 5 minutes, once or twice a day, that I can take a break from whatever else I’m doing and take care of one area, or one surface. In between nightly TV shows, take 5 minutes to clear off your coffee table. After you’ve had your morning coffee, spend five minutes clearing off your entry-way table so that when you return home, the first thing you see is something organized rather than something cluttered.

There are really two major players in the de-cluttering of your apartment. The first is: own less stuff.  The second is this: until then, make time on a regular basis to pick a zone that needs attention and speed-clean through it. The little steps add up!

What tips would you offer? What works for you?

Doniree Walker is a blogger and freelance writer who works with clients including UMoveFree.com, an Allen, TX apartments relocation & moving resource. She is based in Portland, Oregon and tweets @doniree.

4 thoughts on “3 Resources and Tips for De-Cluttering Your Living Space

  1. I cannot tell you how happy I am to hear that the clutter exercise helped inspire you and spark you to take ACTION! It is such a cool thing to watch the book come to life…you are seriously the most amazing reader/beta tester ever!!!

    Love the rest of this post — now you just need to show us some “After” photos :)

    P.S. I love ALL your photos in your posts…they always add so much color and warmth — they tell such a story :)

  2. Ha, thanks! You’ll love the actual review-review I’m writing for my own blog then :) Except for the “come to life” part, not the pictures. Maybe I should add pictures.

    Also, I’m not kidding about that JUMP UP AND DO SOMETHING part because I actually did! Today, I read (came back to after putting off) the Money section and logged into Mint.com for the first time in over a month. So… thanks for that :)

  3. These are great tips; I’m now inspired :) One thing that helps me a lot is actually getting the “stuff” out of the house immediately. Hopping in the car and taking it to Goodwill, the book drop box, the clothing donation bin, or sending out a Freecycle email gives you almost immediate gratification and the momentum to keep going!

  4. I TOTALLY agree! And then you can physically see space that was once cluttered is now clean and that feeling is soooo nice :)

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