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Life and living: Crush the clutter (part 1)

Living with clutter can heighten your anxiety levels, impair your ability to focus and make you less productive. If you’re struggling with a cluttered environment, make this the year you clean your home from top to bottom—and keep it organized—with our four-part series on crushing clutter.

In this first article, we’ll start with your basement or storage room. To keep things from feeling overwhelming, devote just 15 minutes at a time to each of the following tasks, and before long, you’ll be looking at a beautifully organized basement and a stellar, streamlined storage area. 

1. Break the basement into “buckets”

Organizing an entire basement can seem like such an insurmountable job that you never get started. To make the task feel more doable, think about “buckets” of tasks instead of doing everything all at once. Start, for example, with taking an inventory of which basement contents you can trash, tidy up or donate. Then group those items together for sorting. The next day, sort just five boxes, and then five more the next day, until you have them all done.

2. Isolate a staging area for sorting

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to organize things while standing in the midst of everything, you may want to create a separate area in your home to do the actual sorting. Once you have a staging area for your clutter readily available, it becomes much easier to deal with everything.

3. Create four seasons in your basement

A logical and easy way to keep your basement organized is to divide the storage spaces into seasonal zones. Put holiday décor in the winter zone, gardening implements in the spring zone, grilling tools and pool toys in the summer zone, etc.

4. Keep everything in airtight containers

If your basement is damp, running a dehumidifier can help. However, to truly protect your clothing and other items, you’ll need to keep everything in plastic bins or even vacuum-sealed containers. 

5. Maximize your storage space by thinking vertically

It’s so easy for clutter to create a sprawling mess that creeps across your basement or storage area floor. Instead, use vertical bins and shelves to maximize your storage space and make the most of the room you have.

6. Put priority items up front

If you have to keep digging through things you use only occasionally to get to what you need, then your storage system is not going to work well long-term. As you put items away, think carefully about which items you rarely use and put them toward the back of your storage space. Keep things you use often toward the front in more convenient places. 

7. Make your storage space a place for multi-tasking

If you have limited space and plan to use your basement as a living area, consider multipurpose storage furniture (e.g., storage ottomans, desks with deep drawers, tables with storage underneath). They’re great options for keeping things you need to access frequently out of sight. 

These tips may seem basic, but they truly will help you banish basement clutter if you abide by them over the long term. Another important piece of advice: Stop accumulating things you don’t need after you’ve completed the organizing process. Keeping your home clutter-free is just as much a matter of curtailing what comes into your house. Your bank account will thank you, too!

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