A home that is not messy can be wonderful. Divya Sridharan surprises herself at how easy it is to find ways and means of keeping living space free of clutter

A conversation with a friend on ‘good house-keeping’ became fuel for further investigation. It felt great to know that I was not the only one trying to solve this age-old conundrum. It also felt great to connect with a fellow ‘hoarder’. In her case, for instance, hoarding entailed the collection of empty glass bottles. While in mine, hoarding found new meaning in the preservation of cloth bags.

Hoarding is our response to that “What if?” question. What if I suddenly find use for this cloth bag? What if I someday make pickles (yeah, right!) that have to be stored in glass bottles? Hoarding so many unwanted things makes it impossible to keep your living space clutter-free!

So, how does one do it? How does one put a system in place, where every chore is allotted credible time? Moreover, how does a previously disorganised person, suddenly appreciate the necessity of being organised?

While for some, it is a matter of obsession (remember Monica Geller, that cleanliness freak in Friends?), for others it is a means to de-stress. There are those who find balance in their lives if their personal surroundings are kept neat. Pride over one’s personal space is another reason. Of course, unless one is self-motivated, the desire for wanting to be organised, perhaps remains futile.

I know of a friend who chooses to spring clean her home every Sunday. But, Sundays can also be those rare occasions to unwind, and de-cluttering may not be your ideal way to do so. Upon careful analysis, both by talking to fellow comrades and searching online, these are some of the solutions I found worth considering?

Zoning out

I divide my home into specific zones – for instance, the kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator, the bed-room, and so on. A schedule is then drawn for the coming week, for the zones that I specifically wish to attack. Every day, one hour is devoted to a selected zone. It’s amazing the amount of clutter I am able to dispose off.

Outdated spices from my kitchen cabinets are thrown away. Leftovers in the fridge are cleared off. Bathroom utilities no longer in use are done away with. If the zones are tackled periodically, they do not get disorganised again so quickly.

How not to hoard

When a friend dug through her woollens for a holiday, she discovered how outdated some of her clothes were. Some of them had remained unused for nearly 15 years. Periodically sorting out your clothes or your over-loaded book shelves is a good idea.

In case of clothes, those which you haven’t used for over a year, discard with ruthlessness.

Books that you are no longer interested in, can be donated to a library.

I know of a voracious reader who periodically sells her books (those she isn’t all that sentimental about) at second hand stores, in order to generate money for new ones. By organising your book shelves, you might find the rare opportunity to return the books you borrowed from your friends.

The idea of a Memory Box is a handy one. Have one or two specific containers to store your memorabilia. Periodically, discard those which you can do without. You might want to do this when your containers get full.

This way, only the most precious memories remain!

Smart ways to de-clutter

To start with, find 10 items in your home that you no longer use and dump them. Assign a specific place where you keep old magazines, newspapers and mails that have been read, and periodically throw them away. A smart thing to do is to open your mail next to a bin, so you get rid of the unnecessary ones immediately. Walk around your home with a large bag, collect say eight things that are not kept in their proper place, and deliver those things to their own zones.

Using the proper tools while de-cluttering also reduces time and energy expended. Keep mops, brooms and other cleaning supplies in one place, so that you don’t have to dash from one room to another when you need them. Wear an apron with lots of pockets which can help in carrying cleaning products from one place to another with ease.

Listen to music while de-cluttering. And, if you find yourself sticking to your schedule, then go ahead and reward yourself. Perhaps a Sunday at the spa or a sumptuous dinner at your favourite restaurant. While the above is not a conclusive list, and you are bound to come up with your own systems, perhaps it’s a good way to get started!