One of the benefits of having a regular routine is to help you control the clutter that builds in every room in your home. You know, the piles that form on the kitchen counter. The stacks you have by the back door. When you know your house cleaner is coming, you have motivation to ensure some things are in their proper place. But that doesn’t stop the piles from forming in out-of-way places. Or the clutter that you shove into a closet or drawer a few minutes before guests arrive. What do you do with all of that?

Luckily, there’s an easy way to keep the clutter away.

Make sure everything has a place

There’s a saying, “Everything has a place and everything in its place.” It’s a good rule to live by. If you have a junk drawer, that’s what it becomes. But if you create a space for everything in your home, suddenly you have to deal with it before you put it away. How about an inbox for school papers that have to be looked at and signed? Containers for every member of the family to place things in as they come and go? That way everything that enters your home has to have a decision time associated with it. Where does it go? This will increase your chances of using an item and ensuring it gets to where it’s supposed to go. Even if that means the trash bin.

Avoid the sales

I know, I love a great sale too. But have you ever noticed that you tend to walk away with more when you find a great deal? Do you really need three of something because it’s a great price? In some cases, the answer may be yes. If you use it every day, it may be a great way to save. But if you buy it, make sure you have a proper place for it. And that it cycles in and out of your home on a fairly quick basis.

Don’t buy for your future self

Have you ever purchased something with the thought of “someday?” Don’t worry, we all do it. But that’s how the junk starts piling up. Sure, those summer clearances may seem like a great deal. But will your kids still love the same activities next year? And that dress you’d love to fit in “someday” might never happen. Then all it does is take up valuable space in your closet. Find a dress you love and fits instead.

Try to keep free space in your closets and drawers

If every inch of your space has something in it, you’re more likely to start piling in the corner. You can only stuff so much into your closets and drawers before it starts spilling out. Take on the “in and out” method to keep things in order. When you bring something new in, something old has to go. If, for instance, you buy a new pair of shoes, select an old one to donate or throw away. That way you avoid clutter and give yourself enough space to truly enjoy the things you have.

Have a permanent donation box

Keep a large box near the garage for items you no longer need or use. This also works well for the “in and out” process. Teach every member of the family to use it on a regular basis. Then when the box starts filling up, make a run to your donation station. Doing small amounts can help eliminate the overwhelm that comes from letting things pile up.

The New Year is a perfect time to have a plan to stay on top of the clutter and simplify your life!