Things build up. Papers scatter across countertops, toys turn into hazards at your feet and the garage fills up with garden gnomes and power tools. You know what they say—the things you own end up owning you. Take back your living space with these super smart decluttering hacks for your home.

1. Start with your countertops

Go through your papers and bills, one by one. Build a storage box for whatever you keep and organize things into file folders. If you’re throwing away sensitive records, use a paper shredder for safety and ease of mind. Junk mail will be grateful to live out the rest of its life in your recycling.

2. Use the “six months” rule

When you’re getting dressed, take a good look at the clothing in your closet. If you haven’t worn it in over six months, it’s likely you never will again. Whether you pack it away in a Space Saver Wardrobe Box or donate it to a local charity, it’ll clear out valuable space.

3. Do a 15-minute clean-up

Each day, choose a room and grab a small box or plastic bin. Take just 15 minutes to pick up things and tidy the space. Afterwards, you can decide to store or donate whatever you’ve picked up.

4. Visualize the space

Survey the room you’re in and visualize how you’d like it to look. Remove clutter from shelves, end tables, coffee tables and the floor, and have a box waiting for storing or donating things. If you’re storing anything away, don’t forget to seal the boxes up with brown packaging tape to protect what’s inside.

5. Create a maybe box

Here’s where you place the things you’re not quite ready to get rid of. Put it away and re-visit it in six months. See how you feel about it then—you can always place it into more permanent storage.

6. Be ruthless in the garage

Get rid of unused toys, broken tools, and the odds and ends that you don’t know what to do with. You really don’t need manuals and papers for the appliances you don’t own anymore.

7. Switch to electronic billing

This way you’ll reduce the number of bills that pile up on your desk. You can always print them out and file them away later.

8. Reduce your magazine piles

Tear out the articles you like, put them in protective sleeves in a binder, and recycle the rest.

9. Attack your kitchen

Grab another box or two, since your drawers are probably full of extra utensils and appliances. Store away items you only use at certain times of the year, then give away or donate anything else you don’t need. Don’t forget to protect them with a good wrapping in brown packing paper roll material when you store them away.

10. Be prepared

Keep plenty of markers, boxes and brown paper packaging roll materials on hand. This way you’ll always be ready for whenever the next urge to declutter strikes.

Bonus TPC Tip: Peter Walsh (a contributor to says that if you hesitate about what to do with an item once you’ve picked it up, it’s a sign that you don’t need it. Take the opportunity to get rid of it.

With these decluttering hacks and a little determination, no mess will ever intimidate you again. Happy decluttering from The Packaging Company!