Becoming a minimalist means living more with less. It’s not easy, so here’s a guide to get you started.

 Five ways you can show the clutter in your life who’s really in charge.

1.  Just get rid of these things—seriously. Why are you keeping them? 

2.  If you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to begin, try starting with one small area that haunts you the most—a section of the kitchen counter, a small table top.

3.  Pick up five things and return them to their proper location. These should be items you’re used to seeing deposited on counters or floors: mail, the dog’s leash, a newspaper section, your daughter’s hair clip, random sports socks. If you don’t have a designated place for them, think about one that would suit, and start using it all the time.

4.  Give yourself the gift of a “Maybe” box that you can put things in for now. Sometimes, even though we know we should get rid of something, we can’t quite let it go. Look at the random selection you’ve kept a few months down the road—chances are it will all go straight to donation.

5.  Be a more conscious shopper so that you’re not filling your decluttered home with more clutter. Whenever you see something you want, add it to an ongoing list with the date you first saw it, and then revisit the list 30 days later. You may find when you check back that the urge to purchase it has gone. And if you do decide to get it, at least you’ve given the item the time and consideration it deserves. 

Living in a cluttered home or trying to work in a cluttered office is an exercise in frustration. Car keys get swallowed up, you can’t locate your important report in time for your meeting, or you replace something you can’t find only to have the original turn up shortly after. Isn’t that the worst? Make sure that never happens again by getting clutter under control… one unpaired sock at a time.