5 super simple ways to keep clutter at bay


Organization is my love language. Even if it’s not yours, consider this: Home is the launchpad of our lives, and if yours is suffocating under the weight of stuff and disorder, your energy, brainpower and well-being are suffering the same fate. Even before Marie Kondo hit the scene, research revealed just how life-changing a tidy home can be.

For example, a clutter-filled house has been linked to procrastination and, among those in their fifties, life dissatisfaction. Studies show it spikes stress hormones in working moms and may encourage overeating. Neuroscientists discovered through MRI tests that when there’s too much clutter, your brain has trouble focusing and processing information—which is why it may cause you to feel distracted and unmotivated. And it can ding your memory, trigger anxiety and, at the very least, cause you to waste precious minutes and energy searching for the f#%*! [fill in the blank] that always goes missing.

Recently I’ve been following the (inspiring) decluttering journey of my pal Liz Vaccariello, the editor in chief of Real Simple. A true member of the Fully Charged sunshine squad, she runs a tight and tidy ship at work, but at home, she’s married to a man she (lovingly) refers to as #clutterhusband. Around the time she took the reins of Real Simple, she began taking back her home one small move at a time.

Obviously, there are different degrees of clutter. If you’re more of a “keeper of stuff ” than a KonMari convert, there are professionals who can help (like @theprojectneat or @doneanddonehome).

For the rest of you who, like Liz and me, struggle with just keeping on top of the enormous influx of random-ness that materializes when you stop paying attention, the best thing you can do is declutter daily. Spend five to ten minutes either at the end of the night or first thing in the morning, tidying, putting away or doing whatever you need to start seeing more surfaces again.

Quick clutter fixes

1. Try a tray.

One of the first things Liz did to turn #clutterhusband into #herohusband: Corral all the little stuff that collects in various spots (counters, entry tables).

2. Give everything a home.

[Not having a designated spot for everything] is the leading cause of clutter. Decide where things should live (or make a home for them) and get out the label maker so everyone can drop stuff off where it belongs.

3. Keep a giveaway bag at the ready.

You never know when the urge to purge will strike, and having a home for castaways

makes it effortless. For me, that means a Thredup bag in my closet and a shopping bag for the Salvation Army by the front door.

4. Send stuff to purgatory.

Kids given only four toys to play with stayed occupied and engaged twice as long as kids given sixteen toys, according to one study. It’s also estimated most people wear only 20 percent of their wardrobes most of the time. Pack a bunch of stuff away and every few months, “shop” the box.

5. Outsource.

One reason clutter increases working moms’ stress is because they often feel responsible for staying on top of it. Get everyone in on that sweet declutter action. ([Very] detailed chore charts have worked for us!)

This article has been excerpted from Your Fully Charged Life: A Radically Simple Approach to Having Endless Energy and Filling Every Day with YAY (TarcherPerigee (February 23, 2021).

Want more amazingly helpful tips for Meaghan? Listen to her interview on The Motherly Podcast or order her book!

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