Keep That Anti-Clutter Momentum Going

— Written By Christine Smith and last updated by Kim Davis

Did you take the clutter challenge last week? Which area did you tackle, your closets or kitchen? If you are like me you found a lot of stuff that needed to be discarded or donated. Don’t stop now, let’s take a look at three other areas of your life that may need some de-cluttering.

The Car or “The Storage Space on Wheels”:  When you invite someone to join you for lunch do you have to clean out the front seat? Is your car cluttered with mail you forgot to take in the house, drink cups, food wrappers, your children’s book bags, etc.? Just imagine being in an accident and all this “stuff” being scattered across the highway. Stop and take the time to throw away the trash, sort the mail and get the kids to pick up their things. Your ride to work will feel more relaxing without all the clutter.

There are important items that should be in your car such as your car’s registration, insurance card and owner’s manual. Optional items include map or GPS, small umbrella, coupons or gift certificates for your favorite restaurant or grocery store (neatly stored in an envelope or wallet). Always have a working flashlight, tool kit and spare tire in your trunk. In the winter you may want to add an ice scraper, small blanket and bag of kitty litter (to use for traction in the snow.)

The Basement or Garage:  This is another area that can be an overwhelming area to tackle. For many of us these areas have become a household catch-all for putting stuff you don’t know what to do with. Take a deep breath and start today to get the clutter under control once and for all. Take inventory and get rid of the junk. Sort the remaining items into groups of similar items. Tackle one area at a time; holiday decorations, seasonal clothes, or maybe books you have been saving for years.

Once you have each area sorted, prune out items that are no longer useful or important enough to save. Put the remaining items into storage bins; be sure to purchase bins that fit your storage needs. Clear storage bins work great because you can see the contents at a glance. You may want to consider putting your bins on shelves especially if you are storing items in a basement just in case the basement floods. By the way, a basement is not the place to store items that can be damaged by moisture like photos, fabrics, or furniture.

The Computer and Email:  Is your email so full that you often just delete messages in order to send an email message? Do you often spend unnecessary time trying to find important documents on your computer? Begin a purge, sort and store process on your computer. Delete old emails; sounds simple but do you do it on a regular basis?

Start by making folders to put various items in. Make folders for the different categories of information you need to store. Financial information, cute emails you want to save, photos, etc. Put all of these folders in a master folder under “My Documents,” this applies whether you have a Mac or a PC.

Go through your inbox and look for newsletters, promotional emails, shopping notifications, etc. and consider unsubscribing. Unsubscribe from as many lists as you can. Another way to cut down is to turn off email notifications from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Making these small changes to de-clutter your life helps you bring order to your home and life; because we live in a world that we can’t control.

Thoughts to ponder: 

If you look at your entire house as one unit of junk, you’ll never do anything because the job is too overwhelming. Take it one drawer at a time. ~ Janet Luhrs

When you have cleared all of your clutter, you can be of greater service to those around you. ~ Michael B. Kitson

Christine Smith is an Extension Agent in the department of Family & Consumer Sciences with N.C. Cooperative Extension, NCSU, Wayne County. Information on other services available can be found online at or call me at 731-1525 for additional information.