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The Small Space Living Guide to Fighting Clutter



Fighting clutter is a constant battle for some. Swapping a little extra square footage for your dream apartment in the city, or opting out of the high-maintenance lifestyle of owning and caring for a single-family home definitely, has its appeals--until your space begins to feel too cramped for your lifestyle.


In truth, your daily life may not be the problem, instead, you may find that excessively accumulated belongings are making you feel claustrophobic. When this realization hits, you will be faced with two options: move to a bigger place (and essentially pay rent for your stuff) or take up the decluttering mantel until your space is manageable once more.


Do the Easy Parts First:


This may seem counter-intuitive, but if you’re struggling to motivate yourself to start with the decluttering processes, ease yourself into it. When most people think of decluttering they mentally gravitate to the worst spot that needs attention--their clothes closet piled high with clutter, the garage filled with boxes of goodness knows what. It’s easy to think about these high-need areas and get overwhelmed at the thought of decluttering. Avoid slowing your momentum by starting with the easy-to-purge objects first and then move on to the hard parts.


Consolidate & Conquer:


‘Divide and conquer’ may be a great wartime strategy, but when it comes to the battle against clutter, you’ll want to do the opposite. Collect like objects together before the true clutter removal begins, this will allow you to survey what you actually have in your possession. If you come to find that you have 35 pens throughout the house, 17 towels and doubles of kitchen gadgets, it will be easy to pair down. Knowing what you own is an important step when attempting to minimize your excess, and it can save you money down the road when you would otherwise be tempted to buy a replacement for an item that was merely tucked away.


Sort Systematically:


When you finally decided to declutter, it’s easy to get caught up in the urge to purge and get lost along the way. This is a mistake that will cost you. Instead of sorting through items willy-nilly, use a system to increase your efficiency and strengthen your resolve. The four box method is the perfect solution for the disorganized declutterer; gather four boxes and label them individually: donate, trash/recycle, keep and put away elsewhere (in a separate room, for instance.) This method instantly increases your organization, ensuring that you’re not coming across the same items repeatedly, and--with the implementation of the “keep” box--it changes your decluttering mentality. No longer are you trying to decide which items to toss, (a difficult task if you are prone to sentimentality) but, instead, you are choosing which items should be kept. This allows you to truly evaluate which items deserve shelf space, and which may not be as important after all.




Removing clutter will certainly give you a breath of fresh air, but only if you keep yourself motivated to finish the process. To do this, incentivize yourself at the end of your decluttering journey. This can be a monetary incentivisation (like a yard sale for extra cash), a mental incentivisation (like picturing your cupboards as orderly as Martha Stewart's) or even an incentive via a reward for yourself (like purchasing that new couch set you’ve had your eye on). Whatever incentive you chose to focus on will keep yourself from wavering when you are sorting through the china given to you by Great Aunt Gale, or the crafting tools that you were keeping for “when you have the time.” Some things will serve another person better than it will serve you (or your closet) so steel your heart; let some items go, and picture your reward at the end.


Renting can come with its share of small spaces, but with the proper decluttering tools in your back pocket, a small space doesn’t have to be an obstacle. Caring for your home and sorting through clutter goes hand-in-hand; clean up will be much more of a breeze, and your landlord will thank you for properly taking care of the rental.


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