6 ways to clean up your home life

How to declutter your home, your heart and your mind.

Declutter your closets
My friend Maggie is a hoarder. Her tiny Winnipeg bungalow is filled to the rafters with every homemade card, piece of art and dollar-store gift her children ever gave to her. Now the kids are gone, and Maggie is selling the house. But the prospect of dealing with the massive clutter is overwhelming. She feels paralyzed by inertia. “I'm buried by my debris,” she says tearfully. “It's sabotaging my life.”

If left unchecked, clutter not only poses physical constraints, but it can also pollute mental well-being. Just trying to find an overdue library book among the stacks of papers on the floor can spawn feelings of confusion, guilt and anger. Clearing clutter not only liberates your physical space but also evicts emotional clutter. Rather than being rattled by mountains of mess, you can take on life with clarity and confidence.

Here are six top clutter crimes and ways to cope with them
1. Closet chaos
“My closet was suffocating me,” says Lynn Van Bakel, a children's author and retired teacher in Victoria. “I had kept pants that had become so tight they made me feel hopelessly overweight, dowdy jackets and other things so heavy with memories I felt trapped in the past.” The closet also harboured guilt in the form of things such as a pricey suit Lynn had bought on a whim but never worn. Other clothes were robbing her of any positive self-image.

Together, we emptied her closet and kept just her A-list clothes (those passing the “I-look-and-feel-wonderful” test). She realized she didn't have to keep clothes she didn't like or ones that were uncomfortable. “Although I have much less now, I love each piece,” she says. “I feel unburdened, freer and better about myself.”

The fix
• Respect yourself. Keep clothes that fit properly and make you feel good about yourself. Pass unflattering or out-of-date clothes along to vintage stores, consignment shops or charity.

• Celebrate your size, whatever it is. Swap self-criticism for self-acceptance. Keep just the clothes that make you look and feel great.

• Practise restraint. Shop with intent, not impulse.

• Avoid guilt. Buy less and wear it more often. Your bank account just might flourish, too.

Page 1 of 4 -- Declutter your kitchen cupboards with ease! We show you how on page 2.

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