KILL THE clutter

There’s a reason REALTORS® always advise home sellers to remove all clutter when selling their homes: The difference is remarkable. The clutter-free home often looks like a new one entirely, and homeowners even wonder how their home could look that good.

You don’t have to wait to sell your home to make it look better. Plus, clutter can physically and mentally stress us out. By breaking your decluttering down into five-minute sessions, you can slowly conquer your clutter.

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits offers some ways to start:

Designate a spot for incoming papers, and don’t put them anywhere but that spot until you can sort and file them.

Clear one area and designate it your “no-clutter” zone. There is one rule for that area: Nothing can be placed there that’s not actually in use. Everything must be put way. Once you have that, expand to more areas.

Pick up five things and find places for them. These should be things you actually use, but which don’t have a good spot to live.

Pull everything out of a drawer, evaluate it and sort it into three piles: stuff that really goes in the drawer, stuff that belongs elsewhere and stuff to ditch.

Create a “maybe” box. When you’re organizing, you often know exactly which items you want to keep and which you can trash or donate. But sometimes there are items you can’t trash, and yet you’re not sure what to do with them. Put them in the “maybe” box and pull it out every six months to re-evaluate.

Keep it going: After you’ve decluttered, don’t get tempted to buy new things. Instead, create a 30-day list and put any non-essential items you want to buy on it along with the date. If an item has sat on the list for 30 days and you still want to buy it, you can.