A couple organizing their apartmentSpring is just around the corner, and if you’re like most people, you probably have to do some spring cleaning in the near future. Since apartments are smaller than houses, they can get cluttered and disorganized much faster. Forming a good declutter plan of action is the key to keeping your apartment organized year round.

Check out these 12 tips to declutter your apartment to make sure your spring clean is effective and lasting.

1. Schedule a Declutter Day

You have to schedule appointments for other aspects of your life. Cleaning and organizing your apartment should be no different. If you don’t put a date on the calendar, it can make it easy to procrastinate decluttering and let the mess continue to grow. Make a commitment on the calendar to spend at least one day per month organizing so you can prepare ahead of time by buying supplies, formulating a plan, and ending the procrastination.

2. Get Furniture That Doubles as Storage

Everyone needs more storage, but large plastic storage bins don’t exactly tie a room together. Thankfully, you can find plenty of furniture options these days that are multi-functional. Many furniture pieces (especially ottomans) have the ability to open up and reveal storage spaces perfect for any extra items particular to that room. If it’s a TV room, you could store DVDs and video games; if it’s a bedroom, maybe shoes.

3. Hang Stuff Using Hooks and Pockets

If the extra stuff you have won’t fit in an ottoman or other furniture piece, then it’s time to get creative. Using hooks and pockets that hang from the wall can give you extra storage space you never would have had otherwise. Shoe racks, clothes racks, and hanging closets are all great options for extra storage. Hanging items from pockets and hooks also gives you the chance to show some creativity and make some choices that make your apartment stand out. Hats or purses can double as decorative items for your walls.

4. Don’t Buy New Home Items Until You’re Organized

This tip might be tougher for some of the shopaholics out there. But, if you really want to succeed in your quest for organization, then it’s important that you don’t buy any new home items until you have completely organized your home. The reason this is so important is because when you organize, you need to formulate a plan. Everything needs to have a home at the end of the day, and it can be hard to continue to find a home for everything if new items keep entering the fray. Hold off on buying new things until you have organized everything you already have. Then, once everything has a home, you can easily make a list of what’s missing.

5. Start With What You Can See

When it’s time to start decluttering, it can be overwhelming. You might not even know where to begin, and the process becomes so daunting that you continue to put it off. But decluttering is just like taking on any other task: start with baby steps until you get into a groove. Just start organizing what you can clearly see is a problem, and before you know it, you’ll start to notice other inefficiencies in your home that you would have never noticed before. Just get the ball rolling, and good things will come from it.

6. Every Space Should Serve Its Intended Purpose

Although much of this “declutter your home” checklist has advised you to be creative, there are times when you should stick to the status quo. One of the most important rules of organization is that every space should serve its intended purpose. For example, there should be enough room on a coffee table for you to put down a cup of coffee. A nightstand shouldn’t display much more than a lamp, a book, and maybe a spot to charge your cell phone. Don’t get creative and try to keep your silverware in a large cup on your dining room table if your kitchen has plenty of drawers you can use. Don’t overthink it too much.

7. Use the Three Containers Method

If you have trouble figuring out what is trash and what is worth keeping, you can’t go wrong with the Three Containers method of cleaning. This method is as simple as it is effective. When you go to clean a room, bring three containers with you. One container will be for items you want to keep, one container will be for items you want to donate, and the last container will be for items that can be thrown away. Using this method saves you time and energy when it comes to figuring out what to do with all of your items.

8. Cure “Flat Surface Disease” — Get Three Dimensional

When it’s time to declutter, many people are stopped by the feared “flat surface disease.” Flat surface disease refers to the condition where people just place any and everything onto a flat surface in their home and believe that they will be able to find it again at a moment’s notice. But, when flat surface disease gets out of control, it can quickly turn into every flat surface in your home being covered. If this sounds like you, it’s time to get three dimensional. Use different methods of storage for items (see tip #3), figure out which items are always ending up on flat surfaces, and begin cleaning those spaces regularly as part of your cleaning routine.

9. Every Room Needs a Wastebasket

People really underestimate the value of a wastebasket. If you have a particular room that continually gets disorganized or messy, check to see if you have a wastebasket in there. Odds are that you don’t. When people enter a room with trash, but find that there is no accessible trashcan, they will often be lazy and leave the trash in the room. This leaves an ever-growing mess for you to deal with. Cut out the middleman and make sure every room in your home has a wastebasket that gets emptied regularly.

10. Use It, Love It, or Lose It

At times, everyone has a little bit of a hoarder in them. People become emotionally invested in items that they have no current use for. Many of these items are antiques that serve you no purpose other than a closet-filler. Nostalgia is a dangerous thing for decluttering, so it’s important to really think about the item and its current value to you. If you use it, keep it. If you currently love it and can justify keeping it, then keep it. If it had value to you but has served its purpose, then it’s time for it to go.

Take a Photo of Sentimental Items That Need to Go

Really can’t justify keeping an item but feel bad about letting it go? If you want to keep the memories of an item that needs to be thrown out, just take a picture of it. You can keep a collection of photos for all of your sentimental items so that when you want to take a trip down memory lane, you can browse through a collection of photos that are exponentially smaller than the actual items.

11. Stay Patient

The best way to declutter your home is to practice patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so it’s safe to say your apartment might take a little bit of time. When you have a clear vision of the finished product in your head, it can be frustrating to work hard and not see much in terms of results, but it’s important to stay patient. Organizing your apartment is a journey where true perfection will never be reached. Your goal is to make it a little more organized every day. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction.

12. Don’t Be Afraid to Call the Professionals

If things get out of hand and you truly don’t know where to start, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to call in some professionals. These people make a living off of bringing organization to people’s lives, and a team full of professionals can handle any apartment. Professional organizers can bring a fresh, unbiased perspective to your space and come up with ideas and a plan to get your place looking as good as possible.

Although undergoing the apartment declutter process can be overwhelming, it is manageable. Just take the time to put together a plan of action so that when you’re done, you’ll have an apartment to be proud of. Still looking for an apartment? Contact Real Estate Equities today!