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You probably want to keep your home neat and organized, but it’s easy to let things slide because you’re busy or distracted and later find yourself overwhelmed with clutter. Changing your habits will take some work, but the payoff is worth it.

Get Rid of Things You Don’t Need and Organize the Things You Do
Go through your closets and pare down your wardrobe to pieces that fit and that you wear on a regular basis. Do the same with your kids’ clothes and toys and items in your garage, basement, attic and shed. Have a yard sale or donate unneeded items to charity. Repeat the process at least once a year.

Homes often get cluttered because items don’t have a designated place where they belong. Choose a logical and convenient storage space for everything you decide to keep. Buy shelves, storage containers or wall hooks, if necessary. Make a habit of putting everything in its place when it isn’t being used, and stay on top of family members until they also get in the habit.

Even with an excellent organizational system, you’ll still have some odds and ends that don’t clearly belong in any particular area. Designate one drawer as a junk drawer to store those items, and figure out a way to keep it relatively organized. Don’t put things in the junk drawer simply because you don’t feel like taking the time to put them in their proper places.

Don’t Create New Clutter
It’s easy to accumulate a lot of stuff if you like to browse in stores and online and buy things because they’re on sale or because you might use them “someday.” Work on resisting the urge to make impulse purchases. Before you buy anything, ask yourself if you really need it and if you have space for it. If the answer to either question is no, don’t buy it. Only purchase things that you know you need, will use and have room for.

Mail is a common source of clutter. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by junk mail, advertisements, credit card offers, newspapers, and bills and wind up with a pile of papers and envelopes. Deal with mail as quickly as possible. Discard or shred anything you don’t need, and create a system to organize and manage necessary items. Consider scanning important documents to eliminate boxes or filing cabinets filled with paper.

Tackle Clutter and Keep It From Reappearing
Clutter has a way of creeping up on you, and it’s easy to overlook it until it becomes overwhelming. If your home is cluttered, figure out what you do and don’t need. Then create a system to organize important belongings and documents, and make sure you and your family stick to it so you don’t create more clutter.