Too much stuff? Whether you’re downsizing or just looking to de-clutter, the task can be overwhelming. Here, expert tips to get you started.

Perhaps you’ve lived in the same house for 30 years, and there are things in the basement that you haven’t laid your eyes on since you moved in. Or, perhaps it’s time to downsize, and your new home will not fit every piece of your 27-year-old son’s kindergarten crafts. Whatever your clutter worries may be, we’ve asked the experts for their tips to help you get clutter-free.

Jill Pollack and Jane Lockhart have given us sage advice to share with you. It might seem overwhelming to get organized but, trust us, it’s worth it in the end. And their steps will make your goals seem attainable, not intimidating.

SCHEDULE TIME: “You don’t just happen to go to the doctor or just happen to have a dinner party. You have to plan it. Same thing with this [organizing]. You really have to have all of your supplies and you have to be ready and thinking about it and ready for the work,” says Pollack. If you happen to get a block of time unexpectedly – make use of it!”

THE FIVE-SECOND RULE: Have a friend or family member ask you if you’re keeping or tossing your items. “If you’re sitting there and thinking ‘Should I or should I not?’ for longer than five seconds,  then you know what the answer is. The answer is – it’s gone. If you can’t decide then it’s gone. You’re going to get rid of hundreds of things. There may be one or two things that you’re annoyed you got rid of but that 498 things you got rid of – you’re going to be so happy,” says Pollack.

With the help of items from Canadian Tire Jane Lockhart turned this kitchen into a clean space. Note the plate shelves used to organize the cabinet as well as the yellow bowls used for storage. They blend, making the counter look less cluttered.

Lockhart recommends putting everything that is the same together. “No. 1  deterrent to not organizing is people don’t know where to start. Just group things together – all the pens go together – it’s that simple. Another example, all the white dishes on one shelf. ”

HAVE THE RIGHT STUFF:  When it comes to storage, Lockhart suggests clear bins for under the bed (bins can easily be found at Canadian Tire). “Then you can see without pulling it all out.” And Pollack says to make sure you’re ready with plenty of garbage bags on hand as well as boxes to differentiate between keeping, tossing and donating.

Pollack also suggests keeping a label maker handy. “It’s brilliant to categorize. That’s why labelling is a huge part of that. Because you’ll think you put things in a certain place. Even in a clear container and you’ll be like ‘Oh, sporting gear’ but if you don’t label it, then you’ll start shoving other stuff in there.” She adds, “The old mantra is that there is a place for everything and everything in its place so when you label it, you create a place for it.” And hooks are key for keeping organized. “A hook is a genius thing. Putting hooks in certain places. A hook for a leash, a key, a coat, a hat.”

COLOUR BLOCK: When it comes to storage, Lockhart uses her knowledge of colours to her advantage.  “The more you can control your colour palette, the bigger a space will look. A good example of how to control the things you want to see versus the things you don’t want to see.” So, look for fruit bowls or storage items for your kitchen that match the colour palette of your kitchen counter. This technique really tricks the eye. Also, “Separate items into different coloured bins. For example, the dark bins are for items that aren’t used as much while the red bins are for items that are used often. It’s a strategic visual cue.”