This is a guest post from Amanda who blogs bout DIY, organizing, modern homemaking, knitting/crocheting, and parenting at The Modern Nest.

Practical ways to beat three common causes of clutter

Today I’m going to discuss tips on how to beat three common causes of clutter we all face in our homes. I’ve chosen sources of clutter that most of us struggle with on a daily basis in the hopes that I can help you manage them better and reduce your stress. Are you ready? Let’s talk about how to beat these three common causes of clutter:

Clutter Cause 1: Mail

Mail tends to be one of the biggest annoyances to people when it comes to clutter. Unlike clutter sources such as clothes (which are useful) or sentimental clutter (which we feel attachment to), almost no one actually wants mail inside their house.

So what do most of us tend to do? Ignore it.

Unfortunately, that’s probably the worst way to deal with it. After all, the mail is going to keep coming and eventually the piles will just get bigger. And as the piles get bigger we’ll want to deal with the mail even less. You see where this is going?

So the first trick to beat mail clutter is to simply stop ignoring the problem. Then follow two steps: minimize the mail coming in that you don’t need (junk mail) and manage the mail that you do need.

Minimizing junk mail as simple as opting out of things like pre-approved credit card offers. In the USA, the FTC recommends Opt-Out prescreen for opting out of credit card pre-approvals and DMA Choice for opting out of direct marketing offers.

Once you reduce the amount of junk mail coming in, you will need to come up with a system for managing the rest of your mail. I recommend using a command center or wall mounted filing system near where the mail clutter tends to build. So if you tend to abandon the mail on your entryway console table, put a system there; if you carry the mail in to the house but toss it on the kitchen counter, find space in the kitchen. This will help you stick to dealing with the mail now rather than later.

Related: How I conquer clutter when it’s emotionally difficult

Clutter Cause 2: Kitchen counters

Kitchen counters, as one of the causes of clutter in our homes, are often used more like cabinets than counters. In other words, most of us over-stuff our cabinets with food, storage containers, etc. and then have no room for items like bigger appliances (toasters, blenders, etc). As a result, big items that we don’t use regularly take over the counters!

How do you get out of this situation? First, make sure you clean out and organize all your cabinets. Decide what can go in each cabinet, and stick to it. Make sure you maximize the space in your cabinets and pantry (I have more tips on that here), and designate at least one cabinet for bulky items that are taking space on your counters. This process will take a few hours, but it’s well worth the time!

Another counter space hog I want to mention real quick is those giant dish racks! These unnecessarily take up a ton of valuable counter space! Simply swap out the large dish rack for a small one that you can store under your sink (or even just rest clean dishes on a dish towel!). Dry the dishes as soon as you’re done washing and then immediately place the dish rack under sink (or hang up the dish towel to dry). Poof! An instant few square feet of counter space reclaimed!

Related: Clean kitchen habits you can adopt today

Clutter Cause 3: Toys

I may be wrong, but nothing makes an otherwise beautiful home feel quite so disheveled as a toy explosion everywhere! The struggle is real, you guys, the struggle is real!

But toy clutter doesn’t need to take over 24/7, even if your kids can tear apart everything in minutes. I like to follow two main strategies for keeping toys under control: purging by size, and “blending.”

When it comes to purging, not all toys are created equal. The “one-in, one-out” rule simply doesn’t work if you’re replacing something like a small book with a large toy truck! Instead, focus on the amount of space you create when you purge toys. Did you purge enough so that new toys fit in the space? If not, keep purging! That’s how you prevent toys from taking over everywhere!

But even with proper toy management, kids like to leave toys scattered around outside of designated play areas. If you struggle with this (or if you don’t have designated play areas), use toy storage that matches the rest of your decor! Even if your kids have a lot of toys, they will feel less in the way if they aren’t in bright red/yellow/blue plastic bins!

That’s my tips on how to beat three common causes of clutter in your home! If you would like the opportunity to get step-by-step organizing help, join our community and get my FREE organizing work book! Simply opt-in below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox!

beating clutter