Think of your home as a canvas. The cleaner your canvas is, the easier it is to relax and enjoy the space you live in. Piled-up clutter in your home isn’t just an aesthetic issue, either. Too much clutter in your home has been shown to increase stress, decrease productivity, and even affect your creativity. With “stuff” all around you, it’s hard to focus and your mental health may suffer for it.

If you have a home full of stuff and you’re looking for ways to declutter, here are some of the best tips to get started.

Start Small

For some people, the clutter goes far beyond a few papers on their desk. They may have a garage packed full of boxes and furniture and have no idea where to even begin. If this sounds like you, it helps to start small and tackle each goal as you go.

Consider starting with one small area like a closet or a bedroom, and declutter little by little. Set goals for how long each area should take you. For example, you can dedicate one afternoon to a certain area, and another portion of time to another area.  If you don’t finish you can revisit the task the next day. Working in small achievable chunks of time will feel much more manageable, and you’ll be less likely to give up early on.

Create Designated Areas

One of the biggest causes of clutter is failing to have a designated area for all of your belongings. Instead of organizing your items in a cabinet or drawer, they’re simply spread out all over the place. Create a system that clearly spells out where each item should go.

The more organized you can stay with this system, the more likely you are to keep up with your decluttering. After using something you’ll get into the habit of putting it away, rather than simply throwing it on the nearest surface.

Donate and Recycle

It’s critical that you go through all of your belongings and be honest with yourself about what you actually need. Chances are there are a considerable amount of things that you haven’t used in a while, and you could recycle or donate. Otherwise, if you have items that are of value and you haven’t used in a while, you could make some extra cash and consider selling them. However you decide to get rid of these items, is up to you, but purging is a great place to start to create a clutter-free environment.

Keep Up the Work

Decluttering is not a one-time thing. It’s something that should be maintained and done over and over on a regular basis. If you can manage to devote a little time to decluttering several times a week, then it will be a much more manageable task overall. Whereas if you let things pile up and declutter only once a year, or less, then you’ll find yourself with a major project on your hands.

Remember, keeping your house tidy is an ongoing process that requires commitment and effort. Setting a little time aside to stay committed to a clutter-free house is well worth the benefits that you’ll experience from it.