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Let’s face it. Americans are overwhelmed by clutter, so much so the Boston Globe reported UCLA-affiliated social scientists found that, “…families are prisoners of their own clutter, so overwhelmed by junk they often can’t park their cars in the garage, and that managing the volume of possessions raises stress hormones.”

With autumn here, the holidays aren’t far behind. And while the holiday season brings joy into hearts and homes across America, it also brings stuff, and lots of it. Since clutter is linked to anxiety and stress, it is important to get your home clutter free and organized this yearbefore the holidays strikeso your home doesn’t become inundated by an influx of items that are heading your way.

Here’s how to clean up and clear out in 3 simple steps:

Start Small:

Renowned tennis player Arthur Ashe once said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” The clutter won’t simply disappear because you don’t feel ready to tackle it. In fact, it will become worse, increasing your anxiety with each passing day. If you feel overwhelmed by taking on such a large project, don’t! There are ways to make clearing things out of your home more manageable, and less over-the-top.

According to Becoming Minimalist, the best way to avoid feeling defeated before you even begin is to start small and “slowly build momentum with just five minutes a day” by taking on just one tiny part of your home. Commit to your 5 minutes a day, and then 10, targeting a specific area. Once you’ve accomplished one small section, you will feel motivated to take on larger projects, clearing out closets and entire rooms in no time!

Remember, while it may not have taken you that long to make a mess, it will take a substantial amount of time to clean it. And that’s okay. Accept that this is a work in progress. When you see sections of your home that need addressing, feel empowered, rather than defeated.

Stay Organized:

American actress Erin Cummins said, “At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. And the sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start being successful. As long as you blame others for the reason you aren’t where you want to be, you will always be a failure.”

Now that your clutter is under control, it’s up to you and your family to keep your home clutter-free. And doing so is a process. You will need to find strategic places within your home to store belongings so that you can maximize daily living space, utilizing bins, under-the-bed storage and simple closet solutions. Most items are readily available at your local Target or Container Store, and can be put together with minimal effort on your part.

While you will be able to find a place to store most items within your home, there are some items—such as sporting equipment or camping supplies—that are genuinely too large to fit in small to medium sized houses. If you are like many other Americans that have chosen to live within a smaller home, consider renting a self storage unit nearby for items that are a challenge to organize. With units available in various sizes and price ranges, finding one  that works with your budget is simple and convenient.

Be Intentional:

Even after the holidays are through, continually look through and revisit items to see if they have a legitimate purpose within your home, donating and discarding items that don’t. A general rule to follow is that if you haven’t used it within 3 months, and don’t anticipate using it within another 3 (with the exception of holiday decor), it no longer needs a place in your home. Get rid of it and don’t look back!

“The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.” Marie Kondo

By clearing small sections at a time, finding a place for everything you own (renting mini-storage for items you need but don’t have the room for), and continuously seeking opportunities to clean up and out, your home will be clutter free for the holidays and beyond.

To the newly organized, clutter-free you!