Despite living more of our lives online and having fewer physical items such as DVDs or books cluttering up our homes, it is inevitable that, over time, we end up accumulating more items than we would like to own.

If you want to ensure your home is as efficient as a well-oiled machine, you’ll need to go through everything you own, decide whether you truly need to keep it or not, and then find the best possible place for it. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Take action now

Take some time off work or block out a weekend or two and get to it. The reason homes get so cluttered in the first place is because people decide to wait until the time is absolutely right before doing anything about it.

Accept that the problem is not going to get any better by itself and that you are going to have to put in as much time as it needs to turn it all around. An extended period of time is best as trying to do things one shelf or one drawer at a time rarely works. All that happens is that items from one drawer end up getting moved to another.

The ideal technique, if you have the time available, is to empty a room of everything and then put things back one at a time. By ensuring that every item is able to justify its place in your home, you will end up only with the things you truly need.

If this method seems too daunting or you simply don’t have a large block of time available, then assign yourself 5 minutes per day for decluttering. Start in one corner of one room, such as your kitchen, and work your way round methodically. Stick the rule that you can only handle each item or each piece of paper once. That will prevent you from just moving items around from one location to another – unless you plan to keep them.

Ditch the old tech

From mobile phones the size of house bricks to computers with operating systems that are only barely supported, many people are guilty of keeping hold of old devices because they are worried about what information they might contain. More often than not, the devices are so old that the owners are not entirely sure what information they contain, and any personal details are out of date.

The best solution is to take the time to transfer whatever information is one the devices to the hard drive of your computer or to a portable drive. Decluttering experts advise taking action as soon as you make the decision, otherwise the device will simply be shoved to the back of the shelf for a few more years. You can then sell or donate your old machine, safe in the knowledge that all of your precious memories are still with you.

Tame the tools

Whether you have a few craft hobbies, or you like to have a go at some basic home maintenance tasks every now and then, it’s a good idea to have some basic tools around. If they are spread around your home in the odd drawer or closet, it will be much harder to find exactly what you are looking for when you need it most.

You don’t want to be confronted with a leaking pipe under a sink and not know how to get your hands on your wrench. A portable toolbox not only keeps your equipment safe, but it also allows you to bring whatever you need to where it is needed most. Whether you are hanging pictures in the hallway or installing new shelves in a bedroom, everything you need will be within reach. You can review reviews of some of the best portable toolboxes around to help you find the model that suits you best.

Don’t forget your digital clutter

If you had old tech lying around and have now transferred all the old files to your new computer, it’s time to look through everything to ensure you don’t end up repeating the cycle a few years down the line.

The key to successful digital decluttering is to create the right number of categories and assign every item to the right one. Examples might be family photographs, holiday snaps, work photos and so on. The huge advantage of working in a digital space is that you have an unlimited number of categories that you can create, but this can also be the downside and make it hard for you to find anything in the future.

Try to keep the number of categories down to a minimum and if there is anything you are unsure about but don’t want to erase just in case, place it into a “pending disposal” file. If you find you never need to look in it then when you come to transfer all your files to a new computer in a few years’ time, this is one file you can leave behind.

Organize your wardrobe

If you find yourself wearing the same set of outfits again and again, it may be time to take a good like at your wardrobe and see if there is anything you can do without. Keeping clothes for sentimental reasons is all very well, but once you get to the point where you have more clothes than space, something is going to have to give.

When you’re going through things, don’t forget to try everything on before you decide. Especially in the case of items you have not worn for some time, the reason they may have been sent to the back of the line is that they no longer fit the way they used to, either because they have shrunk or because you have changed in size.

You may also find that items you once loved or looked fantastic no longer suit your current style. Trying to sort out which clothes to get rid of without trying things is a huge mistake as the temptation is to hang on to far more items than is practical. The shock of seeing how badly something fits or how out of date it looks is usually enough to sever any emotional ties and make the process of disposal much easier.

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