We're living in the most materially-rich society in global history, and, to put it bluntly, we all have too much stuff.
Studies have found the average family has 39 pairs of shoes, 90 DVDs, 139 toys, 212 CDs, and 438 books and magazines.
Plus 75% of families have so much stuff in their garage that there's no room for their cars.
While it can be difficult to let go of possessions with sentimental meaning, collecting so many things that your home becomes disorderly and unmanageable means you need a clear-out – and with National Clear Your Clutter Day (March 19) on the horizon, there's no better time to do it.
With a bit of luck, once you've dug out your stash of unused items, you'll be able to sell, swap, upcycle or recycle some of your belongings for a profit.
Here are 14 ways to get rid of the unnecessary clutter in your home for good.
1. Schedule time to declutter, and keep those declutter appointments. Just 15 minutes a day would set you off on the right track, suggests Cynthia Ewer, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Organised Fast. Better still, schedule larger blocks of time, from two to four hours once or twice a week, for maximum declutter efficiency.
2. Strengthen motivation by putting your declutter appointments in your diary, and sticking to them.
3. Buy a storage trunk, drawers or bookshelves if you think you need extra places to put clutter you just can't bear to get rid of.
4. Zero in on one small, solvable clutter problem. Clear one counter, declutter one shelf, or bring order to a single drawer. Choose an area that bugs you daily.
5. When you feel yourself starting to flag, return to that one clear space, shelf or drawer to remind yourself of your goal and give you the motivation for more decluttering.
6. Use the 'Four-Box Method' to speed up your decision-making and sort your clutter swiftly. Gather three boxes and a large bin, and label the boxes 'Put Away', 'Give Away/Sell' and 'Store'.
When you've sorted items from the area you want to declutter into a box or decided to throw them in the bin, reserve 10 to 15 minutes to empty the boxes. Put things away immediately. Give Away/Sell items should be stored outside the house if possible, in a garage or the car boot to be dropped off at a charity shop.
As each storage box is filled, make a brief inventory of the contents and put the box into a storage area like the loft. Finally, empty the bin quickly to prevent second thoughts.
7. When you can’t decide whether to keep an item or not, don’t waste too much time deliberating. Instead, create a 'Maybe' box for stuff you don’t use right now, but think you may in the future. Store the box out of sight, remind yourself to look in it in six months, and if you don’t need any of the items you can throw out the whole box then.
8. Don't let guilt or obligation make you hold on to things. There are ways you can keep your precious memories but clear out the material objects at the same time - for example, take pictures with gifts that mean something to you but which you don't actually need.
9. If your workspace is cluttered with important paperwork, create electronic copies by scanning them into your computer, and then throw away or file the paperwork.
10. Try the 'one in, one out rule' - whenever you buy something, simply dispose of a comparable object.
11. Remember that just as clutter arises gradually over time, so it must be tackled gradually. Beating clutter requires building new habits, applying new organisational methods, and creating new household routines.
12. Resist the temptation to go all-out in fevered, short-term sorties against clutter. Slow and steady wins the declutter race.
13. Master your own clutter challenges before you get the rest of the family involved.
14. Once you understand the decluttering difficulties and can demonstrate successful decluttering yourself, enlist the rest of the family, and help them using your own new-found organisational expertise.
Let each family member organise their own clutter: children and their toys, adults and their paperwork, teenagers and their clothes. Everyone's different and will like their possessions organised in different ways.
How do you declutter your home? Tell us in the Comments section below.