Clearing out Clutter: Baylor Expert Offers Six Tips to Organize Your Home in Time for the Holidays

Elise King
Elise King, assistant professor of interior design in family and consumer sciences at Baylor University, provides six tips to help you de-clutter your home for the holidays. (Courtesy photo)
Dec. 2, 2016

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WACO, Texas (Dec. 2, 2016) – The holidays are a time for celebration, but it can be hard to feel festive if you’re overwhelmed with clutter.

“Clutter can take away the joy originally associated with something,” said Elise King, assistant professor of interior design in family and consumer sciences at Baylor University. “Most people enjoy Christmas decorations, but over the years we tend to accumulate a lot of them. Sadly, for many, the thought of decorating for Christmas no longer brings feelings of excitement and joy. Instead, we dread going into the attic, dragging out the tree and boxes of ornaments, checking strands of lights, fixing broken bulbs, etc., only to know that we’ll have to put it all back in about a month.”

If this sounds like you, there’s no reason to stress. King offers six tips to help you clear out clutter and keep it out so you don’t have to worry about an untidy home this holiday season.

1. Set attainable goals.

“Don’t try to organize the entire house in one weekend,” King said. “You are much more likely to complete a task, especially one that you’ve probably been avoiding, if you break it into small goals. Don’t try to clean out an entire room over a weekend; instead, focus on the desk one week, the closet the next, and so forth.”

2. Involve the entire family.

“The scale and scope can vary for each family member, but the process will be more enjoyable if everyone is working together,” King said.

3. Reward yourself.

“Plan a fun activity after everyone has completed their task,” King said. “The reward doesn’t have to be big; it can be going out for ice cream, watching a movie or going for a walk.”

4. Consider going paperless.

“It’s not for everyone, but if you prefer PDFs to paper, then you should consider making your organizational workflow more digitally integrated,” King said. “Purchase a scanner to digitize those documents that you can’t throw away but you rarely need to look at, such as appliance manuals, product warranties, health benefit information, etc.”

5. Make organization part of your routine.

“Think of organization like a diet. Consistently eating healthy and exercising is better for you than going on a crash diet,” King said. “For example, instead of tossing your mail on a desk for you to sort through later, change your routine and at least sort your mail into categories before doing something else.”

6. Set yourself up for success.

“Set up systems and develop a structure that integrates organizing and cleaning into your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth or going to the gym,” King said. “If you have difficulty managing your laundry, consider what can be done systematically to improve your process. If you have a large family, can you make a rule that only laundry that is in the laundry room or a central laundry bin will be washed? That way you don’t walk into a teenager’s room and find three weeks’ worth of socks and athletic clothes under the bed.”

Once you’ve sorted through your belongings and determined which to keep and which to clear out, you have a few options. Instead of throwing things away, King suggests donating items to charity or considering whether friends or family could use them. Alternatively, repurposing items is another way to deal with clutter.

“Turn on almost any HGTV show and you’ll find evidence of the repurpose trend,” King said. “Transforming something old into something new can both be fun and meaningful.”

by Kalli Damschen, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Elise King is an assistant professor of interior design in family and consumer sciences. She received an M.A. in architectural history and a Master of Interior Design from the University of Texas at Austin. In her research, King focuses on innovators of design in the 20th century and the intersection between theory and practice.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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