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If you need to get organized, you also need a good strategy, or approach. The best strategies result from thinking about how, when and where things are used, not just where they’re stored. Try these four simple techniques to tame clutter in your own home!

1. Think zones, not rooms. Most of us organize our home by room… dishes in the kitchen, clothes in the bedroom, toiletries in the bathroom. The problem with this 30,000-foot view of our home is that, in reality, each room is a microcosm of activities, not just a single one. Instead, think about the ‘key activities’ that happen in your home… getting dressed, paying bills, packing a suitcase. Then consider how you could create a zone around each activity, with related things kept together, where they’re used.

For example, you could create a dressing zone in your bedroom by keeping makeup, hair dryer, jewelry, scarves, etc. together in one place, or one piece of furniture, with a power bar attached to the back or insider of a dresser. Or you could create a party zone drawer in your china cabinet to store candles, napkins and placemats. Or a beverage zone in your china cabinet to store wine and cocktail supplies together with wine glasses. Or a home office zone drawer to store stamps, stationary and office supplies and recharge portable electronics Creating zones—whether on a shelf or inside a drawer or storage bin saves us time and energy, not to mention money (re-buying things we already own but can’t find!). Zones ensure things are always in their place and placed where they’re used.

2. Open up storage space. One of the quickest ways to make more space inside overstuffed closets and drawers is to move off-season things… or things yu’re not using to an alternate location. That doesn’t have to mean giving them away.  Invest in a portable wardrobe rack (under $30) that you can store in a basement, attic. Or store off-season clothing or shoes in under-bed storage boxes or stackable storage bins.

2. Give yourself time to let go of things. Most of us have a hard time letting go of things; even things we haven’t used in years. After all, we might just need them… or worse, we’ll miss them! The truth is, we probably won’t do either. But still, letting go is difficult. So why not give yourself a buffer – a transition zone. Remove the things you haven’t used or worn in more than 2 years. Take a photo of items with special memories and store them in boxes or large plastic bag. Label the contents and store it someplace out of the way – in a garage, basement or attic. If you still haven’t used or missed the items you’ve stored after a set time limit,  just drop off the box or bag at a good-will store. Or call a charitable organization to pick it up.

4. Decide to help someone else. It’s never been a better time to give things away. Thinking about how much your things will be appreciated by people in need is its own motivation to part with things you’re not using. Making a difference in someone else’s life is one of life’s biggest rewards. It’s also a great lesson to teach kids. Letting go of old or extra toys is easier and even exciting for kids when they realize they’re bringing happiness to another child!