Clean Up Your Room!: 10 inspiring ways to declutter a space

Some people can just walk in the room and start picking up without fanfare.  I can’t do that. I need a fun method.  Make that 10 methods.  I have at least 10 tricks I regularly use to clean up the clutter in my home and life.  Sometimes I’ll use 3 or 4 methods for one clean up.  Other times I’ll stick with one method for a period of time; then switch to another. I combine, revise, and re-create my methods.  These are the ones I’ve found most effective.

1. Square Foot Method :  I use this method when there is a large space full of random clutter. Start in one corner of the room and literally block off one square foot of floor space and clear it, clean it, and organize it. Then move on to the next square foot.

2.Beach Pebble Method: This method reminds me of walking on a pebbly beach and picking up all the red pebbles; then the black ones; white ones, and so on. Likewise in a cluttered room you create categories such as papers, clothing, containers, books etc. Then you choose one category to start with like “clothing”.  Let your eye peruse the room looking only for clothing.  Pick up all the clothing.  Next choose “papers”, perusing the room gathering all the papers.  And so on.  In a large and cluttered room I might block the room off into quadrants and work one quadrant at a time.

3.10 Minute Method: Set the timer for 10 minutes and jump in. When the timer goes off, stop. I usually combine this with another method to make it more interesting.

4.Empty Everything Out Method: Do not try this at home alone.  This is a method I only use when I’ve got an orderly and disciplined person working with me.  It is dramatic and exhilarating to quickly empty a cluttered room of all its contents. However, you have now created a mess somewhere else, right? Many a winter I have used this method (unchaperoned) and brought everything out to our covered deck, where it stayed until July.  Sure I enjoyed my clean room, but at what cost?

5.Donut Hole Method: Climb your way to the middle of the room and clear a circle 2 feet in diameter.  Keep widening the circle until all that’s left are the corners.

6. Roll the Dice Method: I use double dice to give myself maximum freedom.  Let me explain.  Grab a pencil and paper and number 1-12. Survey the room, writing down 12 tasks. Roll the dice and do that number. I add a little freeing spice to this method by allowing myself to choose among 3 tasks. Say I roll a 2 and a 6. I can do task #2, #6, or #8. There’s something about having controlled choice that makes this a favorite. I’ll use this dice method for busy days when I have a lot of things to take care of, especially if I’ve been procrastinating. They all go on the list and I roll the dice.

7. Next Step Method: I use this method when I feel overwhelmed, depressed, or tired. I grab a pad of paper and a pen or sit at the computer. I’ll list all the things I need to do. I’ll break them down into small tasks that I can do in less than 10 minutes. I’ll pick one task and write it down, and write down the next thing I’ll do after the first. Before doing the second task I’ll look at the list and choose what the next thing will be.  This method keeps me focused on completing one thing at a time, eliminating confusion and overwhelm.

8.Multi-Task Method: This method was inspired by an efficiency coach in England, Mark Forster.  He called it doing “Bursts.”I use this  method when I have a variety of things to do and can’t get started. Let’s say I’ve got a tax return to prepare, a room to clean, a letter to write, papers to file, dishes to wash, a presentation to prepare.  I’ll make a list of these tasks down the left side of the page. On top of the page, I’ll create headings : 5 minutes  10 minutes  20 minutes  30 minutes. I’ll start with the first item on the list, tax return.  I’ll spend 5 minutes getting and opening the file. Then stop. I’ll spend the next 5 minutes cleaning the room. The next 5 minutes gathering letter-writing materials; the next 5 filing; then washing dishes; then outlining the presentation. After I’ve given 5 minutes to each thing, I’ll return to the tax return and work for 10 minutes; then 10 minutes cleaning the room, and so on.  Once I’ve gone through the list I’ll return to tax return for 20 minutes and go through them all. Continue in this way until all tasks are completed.

9. Counting Method: In a messy room, choose a number of things to pick up and stop to rest. I like the numbers 25 or 50 for this. We may have a lot of clean laundry strewn about our bedroom. I’ll count 50 items to fold and hang. Then stop or choose another number. This creates rhythm for myself. I’ve found this helpful when feeling blue or anxious about something. Just focus on the number and the item you’re dealing with. This method is best when it’s rote (folding, hanging, gathering, sorting) and not things that require decision-making or thought.

10.Container Method: While in the messy space, with this method you zoom in on a container you want to organize or a shelf, a drawer, a tabletop.  Or a box or bag you want to fill. Then one container at a time, you deal with it.

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2 Responses to “Clean Up Your Room!: 10 inspiring ways to declutter a space”

  • Mary Hammond says:

    Loving your website and info., but very frustrated by not being able to print your posts economically. The Print Friendly button doesn’t work., so I’m having to copy and paste your great posts onto a Pages document, then print it. Tedious! (This is keeping me from working on my “to-do list . . . )

    Looking forward to hearing you Wed. eve. at Tacoma!

  • Viveca Monahan says:

    I’m pleased to say that the Print feature has been added and now printing is simple and easy. Thanks for pointing it out to me and I’m so glad you are enjoying my articles!-Viv

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