Gretchen Rubin's book Outer Order, Inner Calm is packed with practical, quick suggestions for clearing clutter and getting organized. Additional tips include:
Beware the "frenzy of the clear."
Just as divers can experience the dangerous "rapture of the deep," people can experience the "frenzy of the clear," when they become so intoxicated by the joy of relinquishment that they start tossing or giving away just about everything.
The frenzy is helpful, because it makes it so easy to let things go, but too much frenzy could lead to mistakes and regret. Stay mindful.
Ask yourself, "Have I worked to eliminate clutter altogether, or am I just managing clutter in a neat way?"
For example, are you just stacking the plastic containers in the kitchen cupboard and closing the cupboard door? Or are you pulling out the containers, sorting them, getting rid of the ones that don't have lids or are just nasty, and giving away the ones that aren't needed?
If you're annoyed by other people's clutter, ask yourself, "Have I truly done everything within my power to clear all of my own clutter?"
Start with yourself!
If you're trying to nudge yourself to clear a space, think about what other use you can make of it.
Could this walk-in closet be a little playroom? Could this storage room be turned into a library, a music room, or a yoga room? Many people find it more satisfying to gain rather than to relinquish.
Face the problem of the quality discard.
Some items are of a quality that's too good for their purpose, like a shipping box that's really, really sturdy, or excellent shoes bags. This is annoying, because what can be done with these things? Remind yourself: if you can't use them, they're clutter, and need to be given away, recycled, or tossed.
Ask necessary questions to get an item out of limbo.
Does your brother want you to return that book you borrowed? Does your friend want your old maternity clothes? Find out.
If something doesn't fit or needs repair, give yourself a time limit and do it.
If you can’t be bothered to make the effort in the next three weeks, you probably don't care.
NOTE: Don't spend money to fix an item that you don't even want to wear.
When clutter is truly clear, we should know everything that’s in our home.
We should know what's on every shelf, in every drawer, in every closet, in every box. There are no mystery areas. If someone says, "Do you own a hammer?" the answer is easy.
Get more tips for creating outer order at home here.