According to a study conducted a couple years ago by the Department of Energy, 25 percent of people with two-car garages have no room for the car, and 32 percent only have room for one. If you are drowning in “stuff” at your home, the start of a new year is a great time to tackle the clutter!

We’ve gathered some tips to help.

1. Work in short bursts of time. Some experts suggest setting a timer for 10 minutes. If you want to continue working after that, set the time for another 10 minutes. Continue that way for as long as you like. Other experts suggest planning your first sessions to last no more than 30 minutes each so you will not get overwhelmed. When you are done, reward yourself with a special treat!

2. Scale down collections of similar items. Whether it is baskets, tote bags or coffee mugs, we all tend to have at least one item we enjoy collecting. Before too long, these collections can get out of control. As a good starting point on your decluttering adventure, go through those collections of holiday decorations, kitchen storage containers, books or other items that you’ve accumulated through the years. How many do you really need? Are there some you can get rid of?

3. Tackle the easy stuff first. You can start with the junk drawer that has been annoying you, the desk in your home office that stays covered with piles of paper, or a closet you want to reorganize. The goal is to gain a quick win to build your confidence and motivation.

4. Practice maintaining one area before moving on to larger projects. Once you’ve tackled your smaller project—maybe a bathroom counter, a small hall closet or the surface where all of your junk mail tends to pile up—practice keeping that space clean and organized. Some experts suggest the discipline of keeping this space clear will help you as you move on to work on larger areas.

5. Create a system to help you. The website suggests labeling three boxes with “In,” “Out” and “I Don’t Know”—anything in the “out” box gets donated. Seal up the “I Don’t Know” box and if you haven’t needed anything from it in six months, donate it unopened!

6. Commit to remove at least one item per day. Even if you aren’t undertaking a decluttering session that day, find something you can throw away or donate.

7. Handle items only once. This is a good system to help you declutter and to help you maintain clean spaces once you have tackled them. For instance, as you find items you want to keep, immediately determine where their new home will be. Don’t create a pile of them that you will “decide on later.” This only creates more work for you at another time (and more clutter until you make yourself deal with these items). This is a good system to deal with mail also—pay the bills, file the paperwork you need to keep and throw away the junk mail immediately instead of allowing it to pile up.

8. Track your progress. As with trying to build any new habits, it is helpful to keep track of your progress. Can you dedicate 30 minutes each day to decluttering until you are satisfied with the results? Or three days a week for various time periods? Can you find 365 items this year to donate—one per day? Create a goal for yourself and track your progress to help you stay motivated.

Want more help?
NextAvenue offers two great articles full of advice and a helpful checklist:

Decluttering Checklist

The Power of Positive Purging Your Stuff

6 Ways to Deal With Sentimental Items When Decluttering

Could you be a hoarder? Are you living with a hoarder? 

Hoarding disorder occurs in an estimated 2 to 6 percent of the population and often leads to substantial distress and problems functioning. The American Psychiatric Association explains, “People with hoarding disorder excessively save items that others may view as worthless. They have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions, leading to clutter that disrupts their ability to use their living or work spaces.”

Alan Campbell, host of Watching America, recently spoke with two guests on this topic: Elizabeth Nelson, the spokesperson of Children of Hoarders, and Matt Paxton, the founder of Clutter Cleaner and author of The Secret Lives of Hoarders. They both share their experiences working with people who are hoarders.

Listen to the episode.