Spring is just about here, which means it’s time make things sparkle and shine! Not only does spring cleaning make your home healthier and more beautiful, it helps you keep up on some of those important home tasks that are easy to overlook—like re-grouting tile and replacing air filters, for example. However, there’s another important element to spring cleaning: simplification. While you’re scrubbing and polishing this spring, take time to conquer the clutter while you’re at it.

Here are a few decluttering tips that will make it easier for you to keep your home clean and simplify your life overall:

Make a plan. Decluttering without a plan is certain to end in frustration or failure. The goal of the effort is to get rid of things that no longer serve a purpose in your life, but if you find it hard to get started, these three questions will help you make decisions quickly as you go through your stuff:

  • Do I use (or wear) it and when was the last time?
  • Do I want it (even if I don’t use it)?
  • Does it work (or fit)?

This strategy makes things straightforward. If you have a full cupboard (or two) of coffee mugs, surely there are many that you don’t use or want. If you’ve kept every coat you’ve purchased since 1985, do you still wear or want all of them?

Start with the hiding spots. Think about the spaces in your home where you hide away stuff because it’s easy to ignore. As the hub of the home, kitchens are a natural clutter zone. With so many drawers and cabinets, you might find yourself shoving things in drawers and cabinets or making piles on the counter. When tackling the kitchen (or any of your clutter hiding spots), you’ll first need several boxes labeled “give away,” “recycle,” and store” as well as a few garbage bags. Starting with the drawers, toss anything you don’t want or need and group the “keep” items together. Move next to the cabinets and take the same approach: cabinet by cabinet, throwing away broken items and giving away small appliances or other items you don’t use anymore.

Work on the paper clutter. Piles of paper happen to the best of us, but when they get out of control, taking up space on your kitchen or mud room counter, it’s time to take action. Buy files for your file drawer at the kitchen desk or buy a separate file cabinet. Group papers into categories (Home, Financial, and Medical, for example) and label files. If you have electronic copies of something, shred the paper copies. Recycle junk mail the moment you get it. And if you truly need to keep a copy of something, put it in a file, not a pile.

Have a place for everything. Organization pros have the mantra, “a place for everything, and everything in its place,” which essentially means that it’s easiest to stay organized when your things have a home that they return to after each use. As you declutter a room, take a pad of sticky notes and label where you want things to go and then start moving items to their new designated spaces. Bonus: this strategy makes it easy to spot items with no home—which means they might be easier to part with.

This year, when you’re getting ready for spring cleaning, add decluttering to the list. With fewer unneeded and unwanted things in your life, you’ll feel better and your home will look great. When it comes to stuff, after all, less is more. Give it a try this spring!

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