The 20 easiest decluttering tips you'll ever read

Have you considered trying Oprah Winfrey’s clothes hanging experiment? Simply hang all of your clothes in the same direction. After you wear an item, return it to your closet but hang it in the opposite direction. If you haven’t worn an item after six months then sell it or donate it to charity. Too easy!

If you are determined to simplify your life and create space then these 20 decluttering tips will get you on track.

1. Take it a day at a time

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t declutter your entire home in one either. Instead, try getting rid of one item a day. If this is too hard, start with one item a week and work your way up. It could be as easy as throwing out an old Tupperware container you lost the lid of years ago or donating a few books to charity or getting rid of old Christmas decorations.

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Create more space by donating old clothes and books

2. Clear the top shelf

It can be hard to know where to start when decluttering. A simple trick is to choose a single shelf to clear. With bookshelves and display cases remove any dust collectors that don’t need to be on show and rearrange those you’d like to keep to create a whole new look.

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Avoid using a duster to clean, instead opt for a microfibre cloth to make sure you grab all dust particles

3. Clean out your closet

Pull everything out of your wardrobe or chest of drawers one section at a time. Divide clothes into ‘keep’, ‘maybe’ and ‘what was I thinking?’ piles and go from there.

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Organise and display clothes you want and need for the current season

4. The three-month rule

A little time can turn sentimentality into reason, so sort through your ‘maybe’ box every three months and cull any items you can clearly live without.

5. Do your bit for charity

As the old maxim goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Fill a rubbish bag full of unwanted things and drop it in your nearest clothes bin or charity store.

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Head to your local clothing bin to donate your unwanted things (Photo: Versemann/Shutterstock)

6. Hidden storage

Get all those useless things off the floor and into hidden storage. Multifunctional furniture is easy to find. A large storage ottoman or a lounge with built-in features are good options. Alternatively, an old trunk works well as a coffee table and storage area for pillows, blankets and the grandkids toys.

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Make the most of your space by having furniture that have additional storage units
 

7. Make easy money

Turn despair into dollars and sell unwanted items from your closet on eBay. Vintage pieces are particularly lucrative and bring new life to your old clothes while beefing up your bank account. Consider pairing up with a friend and doing a stall at your local flea market. It will be half the hiring cost for the space and more than twice the fun!

8. Tame unruly cords and wires

Wires and gadgets are a common clutter conundrum. Keep gadgets together and out of sight, and store chargers to one area of the room. You can even pick up simple housing units that hide cords safely.

9. Set a timer

Don't waste a whole day cleaning; dedicating too much time to de-cluttering invites procrastination. Instead, set aside 5-10 minutes each day to organise and de-clutter. Set goals for yourself. For example clean the lounge room in nine minutes. Increase the amount of space you need to clear each time you set the timer.

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You’ll be surprised how efficient you can be when the clock is ticking!

10. File it away

Set up a simple, well-labelled filing system to keep your mail, bills, receipts and other miscellaneous papers out of the way. A simple set of expanding pocket folders or heavy-duty filing cabinet are both good choices and the lack of paper around the house will dramatically change the amount of perceived clutter. 

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Create a filing system to help organise your papers and documents 

11. Toy story

Grandchildren have a talent for making the tidiest room messy in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea. Curtail their tripping hazards by keeping toys in one designated area. Allow the kids to have a few favourites out at all times, while the rest will be stored in a tub (or two, depending on your toy situation). 

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Keep the things tidy with a toy box

12. Clear flat surfaces

When you don’t know where to start, simply clear away all the flat surfaces you can see at home. This will open up the room and encourage you to make the rest of the room as spick and span as the countertops and tables.

13. Don’t stop and start

Decluttering is all about momentum. Rather than stopping and starting, and switching between tasks, finish one before moving on to the next. Take the rubbish out straight away, or drop off charity bags the same day. The longer they are lying around the house, the more likely you are to start rummaging through your charity bags and decide you simply can’t live without them after all!

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It may be time consuming to organise your clutter but make sure to finish what you start

14. Cleaning supplies

Streamline your cleaning supplies and designate a single shelf for everything you need. Another good idea is to hang spray bottles on a string of wire for quick and easy access.

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Designate an area for your cleaning supplies

15. The vacuum sealed secret to space

Do you have trouble disposing of old or unworn clothes? If you don’t have the time or the heart to cull your wardrobe then buy a bundle of vacuum-sealed bags and shrink the amount of space superfluous items take up.

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Create more space by using vacuum-sealed bags. Your closet will love you for it!

16. The 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule is that we tend to use 20% of our possessions 80% of the time. Write a list detailing the 80% not commonly used and toss as many of these as possible. The goal should be to achieve a ratio closer to 50/50.

17. Repurpose your shoe organiser

A hanging shoe organiser is useful in the bathroom. Hang it on the back of the door to remove clutter from the vanity and keep everything in one spot.

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You can also use the pockets of your shoe organiser to sort other things as well

18. Indulge in a labelling binge

Grab the label maker or DIY some sticky labels and mark all your storage tubs, boxes and glass containers in the kitchen and laundry. This will make future de-cluttering a breeze, and significantly reduce the amount of time wasted searching for something randomly stored away.

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Go crazy with a label maker to save time looking for things

19. Talk it out

When de-cluttering, ask yourself two questions. First, ‘Do I love this?’ and second, ‘Could I live without this?’ Answering these questions will make it clear which items have overstayed their welcome, and which ones should be displayed or stored.

20. Consider a minimalist interior design

Minimalism is a legitimate design trend growing in popularity around the world, and it doesn’t involve dining on the floor or sleeping in a hammock, unless that’s the kind of thing you’re after. A simple and symmetrical interior design is said to have a calming effect on the brain, leading to a happier home environment.

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When decorating your rooms keep things simple - often less is better than more 

What are your tips for making your home more neat? Join the conversation below.