30 Day Clear Your Clutter Challenge

Imagine the weight
that will be lifted from your shoulders,
  your closets and…
...maybe even your thighs!!

But don’t take my word for it!


1. Clean up the utensil drawer by moving the four or five things you reach for most often to a countertop canister or crock. Take stock of what's left and toss anything superfluous. You'll be pleased when you can slide the drawer open and closed without it jamming.
2. Sort craft supplies into piles of like items—glue and tape together, ribbons and bows—then stash it all in clear plastic bins, says Stephanie Vozza, author of Five Minute Mom's Club (Franklin Green). Stack bins, whether on the top shelf of a linen closet or on an office bookcase. The next time you need a pair of scissors, you'll be able to locate them in seconds. If your boxes aren't clear, label them.
3. Pull cleaning supplies from under the kitchen sink and create space for them in the room they're used in, suggests Vozza. Move shower and toilet cleaners to a bathroom cabinet, the stain stick to a shelf in the laundry room, and wood polish to a dining room cupboard. The benefits are twofold: You'll have more room in your kitchen cabinet, and cleaning products will be close at hand.
4. Clear out visual clutter in the family room: Pull your DVDs off the bookshelves and arrange them in sleek, stackable cases. Either put the boxes back on the shelves—they'll look infinitely neater—or stack them next to the DVD player for easy access.
5. Put an end to cord chaos once and for all. The BlueLounge Cable Box (bluelounge.com, $30) holds even the biggest power strips—plus, it has room for adapters and extra-long cables. Simply drop everything into the container and close the lid.
6. Keep a stash of 10 or so trash bags in the bottom of the kitchen garbage can. After taking out the trash, just grab a fresh bag.
7. Hang a small shoe organizer on the back of your pantry or kitchen cabinet door, suggests Donna Smallin, author of The One-Minute Organizer (Storey). Use it to store measuring spoons and other items that go missing in the back of drawers
8. Outfit the wall next to the back door with a series of hooks hung at different heights for holding stuff your kids would otherwise dump on the floor—like jackets and scarves. 3M Command self- adhesive hooks (amazon.com) come in a variety of finishes and can be pulled down without damaging paint, says Smallin.
9. To keep a few extra towels tidy, fold in half lengthwise and arrange on a floating shelf above the bathroom door frame. Or, if you have the space, neatly arrange rolled-up towels in the vanity or in an oversize basket on the floor.
10.Don't let your shower be taken over by half-empty bottles. "It should be a peaceful place, not a shampoo graveyard," says organizing expert Jill Pollack (jillpollack.net). SimpleHuman's Adjustable Shower Caddy has shelves that slide up and down to accommodate extra-tall bottles, and a rubberized clamp and pivoting suction cup to ensure a secure fit.
11. Leave a woven or canvas hamper on the floor by the door in the entryway so you can toss junk mail as soon as it arrives, offers Stephanie Goldberg Glazer of yourpersonalmanager.com. And follow tips numbers 18 to 21 to stop junk mail at the source.
12. Create a place for storing your kids' special essays or A+ tests before they land in the trash. Medium Flat Rate USPS boxes (free) are the right size and fit neatly in an out-of-the-way cabinet, like one high above the fridge. At the end of the school year, label each, seal, and stack on a basement shelf. "School papers either go in the box or the recycling bin," says Dawn Billesbach of menufortheweek.com, "so I never have to shuffle through stacks of papers."
13. If your kids are in the habit of scattering things all over the house, designate a common spot to stockpile items like MP3 players and textbooks. Laura Brady Saade of giveme10.info leaves "goes back to your bedroom" baskets at the bottom of the stairs. Before the kids are allowed to watch TV or surf the Web at night, their containers need to be emptied and everything put away.
14. Give your wardrobe room to breathe by using ultra-thin hangers that have a velvety coating—it keeps silky shirts, satin-lined blazers, and super-thin strapped dresses from sliding off.
15. Move your various types of flours, sugars, and other baking ingredients from the boxes or bags they come in into clear, stackable airtight canisters, says Target style expert for home and HGTV designer Sabrina Soto (sabrinasoto.com). The goods will be more accessible, less likely to spill, and stay fresh longer if they're neatly stacked.
16. Reduce clutter in the linen closet by keeping a maximum of three sets of sheets per bed. This way you can have one in use, one in the laundry, and one on the shelf. To store sets neatly, says Stacey Platt, author of What's a Disorganized Person to Do? (Artisan), put the flat and fitted sheets and one pillowcase folded inside the second pillowcase. These stackable bundles are easy to find and grab when needed.
17. Don't hide your kids' clothes hamper in the closet; move it to a user-friendly location like the bathroom. Try an open-top version, and, if your kids are sports-minded, Platt suggests installing a basketball hoop on top "so they might feel inspired to aim, shoot, and score."
18. Instead of waiting for your household bills to land in your e-mail inbox and then logging into a bunch of different sites (credit card company, electric company, and so on), Smallin suggests managing all your accounts with Doxo (doxo.com). The free Web service lets you receive, pay, and electronically file all your bills in one place.
19. Stop unwanted catalogs from flooding your mailbox. Register with CatalogChoice (catalogchoice.org)—it's free!—then search for the companies that inundate you most frequently. The site provides all the information you need to opt-out of mailings as well as the customer service phone numbers—which are often hard to locate.
20. Put an end to unsolicited credit card mail offers. Sign on at optoutprescreen.com and your name won't be shared with credit card or insurance companies for five years. As an added bonus, says Goldberg Glazer, there will be less of your personal information floating around.
21. Stop the flood of coupon mailers, magazine offers, insurance promos, sweepstakes entries, and more. For about 70 cents a month, the nonprofit 41pounds.org will keep all of your family members' names off of consumer mailing lists for five years.
22. Prevent "my house is a mess" stress when unexpected guests drop in. Keep an empty container with a lid in every room for quick cleanups. Try a handsome storage ottoman in the living room, a covered basket in the kitchen, and under-the-bed bins in the kids' rooms.
23. Make your mornings more efficient by carving out an area on the counter for breakfast things, suggests Platt. Keep appliances—blender, coffee pot, toaster—clustered in one spot and beside them a basket of coffee-making essentials, like beans, grinder, and sweeteners.
24. No more digging through a bottomless makeup bag: You'll be able to find what you need in a flash if you sort everything into an upright silverware caddy, says Vozza. Put eye pencils in one compartment, lipstick in another, and so on.
25. Weed through holiday decor—a big space guzzler. Toss discolored and half-used candles along with any broken ornaments or mismatched tableware and linens. Donate what you haven't bothered to use in years. (If you don't like it now, you won't miss it!) Divide the remaining decorations among boxes or stackable plastic bins by season.
26. Designate a few bins in the garage for unwanted clothes and items. Lorie Marrero, author of The Clutter Diet (Reason Press), suggests stocking the area with shopping bags for bringing the castoffs to Goodwill. Find the value of your donation for tax purposes at itsdeductible.com.
27. Corral your family's most frequently used information in a binder. Stored in a central location like a kitchen cabinet, it should be the go-to place for phone numbers and addresses, as well as school flyers, sports schedules, home maintenance records, and other easy-to-forget household data.
28. Reorganize your refrigerator: Group like items in transportable containers, suggests Marrero. For example, put the mayo, pickles, and luncheon meat in one bin, salad dressings in another. Try a small lazy Susan in the back of the fridge for hard-to-find condiments.
29. Running out of kitchen drawer space? Stop hoarding plastic supermarket and takeout containers. Unless you regularly put them to good use for leftovers or school lunches, recycle whatever you can and toss the rest. Platt suggests investing in a new set. Get square containers, which take up less space than round, and buy only two sizes, so you don't have to choose from a mess of similarly sized lids.
30. Don't let bulk purchases eat up precious cabinet space. Instead of cramming 12 bottles of water under the kitchen sink, establish a Sam's Shelf or a Costco Corner in your garage or pantry for "back stock," suggests Marrero. Keep only a working supply on hand—five cans of soup instead of a case.
Originally published in the February 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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