1. Organizing clutter means adapting spaces to meet your needs. “You have places where things tend to pile up for a reason, so don’t fight it,” Janine Adams, owner of Peace of Mind Organizing in St. Louis, Mo. If you empty your pockets onto the dresser, buy a decorative bowl and put it in that spot. If you unload at the kitchen counter, pick a drawer near the door to store items.
2. Assign every family member a cubby. Whether it’s a plastic container in a closet or a built shelf near an entryway, assigned spaces lets them know where their belongings belong. An inexpensive, space-saving solution: Hang a pocket holder on the back of a door, such as those designed for storing shoes, to keep personal items handy, says Jill Graham, owner of Operation: Organize!, an organization consulting firm in Chandler, Ariz.
3. Handle mail every day. “Immediately recycle or shred the junk mail,” says Adams. File what you need to access in the near future, such as bills, into an accordion-style folder, and store keepsake documents in a labeled filing cabinet.
4. Cut clutter by storing things where you use them. “Think toothbrush. You never misplace it because its home is where you use it,” says Rosemary Chieppo, a professional organizer and author of Clutter, Chaos & the Cure (Kiwi Publishing, 2008).
5. Group like things together. This allows you to keep inventory, so you don’t end up with 67 AA batteries.
6. Put short items in front of tall things. Most people are visual; if they don’t see something, it may as well not exist, cautions Chieppo.
The following websites offer additional clutter tips:
FlyLady.net , who recommends taking 15 minutes each day to cut clutter in an area and focus on zones.
Peter Walsh, organizational expert who offers a free newsletter offering ways to stay organized.