There’s no way around it. No matter how hard you work on cleaning and clearing your home, clutter seems to always creep back in, especially if you have a spouse or kids who may not have the same orderly goals as you.

If you have a home computer and a mailbox, let’s face it, you have unwanted paper clutter coming into your home every day. I call this the ebb and flow of the clutter tide. What goes out inevitably comes back in!

There are a few ways to keep a grip on daily household clutter:

Corral the daily mail into a designated basket on your desk or on a corner of the kitchen counter (no other paperwork should make its home in the kitchen!). Best if you can deal with the mail right as it comes in, sorting it, filing away those items you need and tossing the rest (junk mail) into the recycle bin.

Stop hitting the print button on your computer! We are busier than ever these days and it’s likely you print out documents to ‘read later’ when, in reality, you know that the papers printed will end up on the large paper pile sitting on your desk with a small chance of ever reading them. Better to electronically file things you need to read later, in separate folders right on your computer.

Make sure everything in your house has a home. By establishing a permanent place to keep every household item (and placing it there every time it’s put down) you will not only create order but also save time and frustration by not having to search for anything you need anymore.

Adhere to the ‘One In, One Out’ rule: Every time you purchase something new, get in the habit of throwing out a similar item. If you buy a new pair of sneakers, an old pair must go.

Set up a daily task basket: Make a list of all those pesky tasks that would take just 10 minutes or less to get done but you just can’t seem to get to each day, such as sorting laundry, scrubbing out the microwave oven, folding a basket of clean clothes, balancing your checkbook, polishing the kitchen counters, alphabetizing your cooking spices, etc. With a scissor, cut up the list so that each task is on one strip of paper and toss them into a pretty basket. Starting today, whenever you find yourself on a personal phone call that you know will be at least 10-20 minutes long, reach into the basket and pull out a task to complete while you are chatting on the phone! It’s amazing how much we can get accomplished in the time we usually squander away each day.

Round up toys: If you’ve got kids, you’ve got clutter. Walk around your home for just a few minutes before you leave for work and put any stray toys or kids electronics into a large floor basket. That evening, with help from your kids, make it a ‘tidy time’ task project to get all the toys back to their proper homes.

Designate 10 minutes a day for household tidying up. Whether, right before dinner or right before you go to bed, setting aside a regular pocket of time to straighten up or work on a bigger organizing project can really kick-start your organizing journey! Watch the ripple effect of organization start to take over. When you complete even just one small organizational project, you’ll be energized to continue with the next task and the one after that!

Lisa Lelas is a lifestyle productivity coach, bestselling author and speaker. Join Lisa this weekend for her 14th annual New Year’s Vision Board Breakfast Workshop in Madison. Info at:

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