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We’ve all been there. Suddenly, your neat and tidy house is filled with clutter. Everywhere you look there are papers piled on the counters, your desk is a mess, mail is unopened…how does it all pile up so quickly? With popular reality TV shows featuring people with clutter disorders, and whole industries built around de-cluttering lives, you know too much clutter is a common problem. Luckily, there are lots of solutions. Here are a few tips to help you get organized and clean up your clutter.

1. Pare down. If you have too much stuff, it’s hard to find a place for everything and organization is almost impossible. Do you have too many collections, knick-knacks and gadgets? Start by emptying cabinets, drawers and shelves and clearing your closets and counter spaces. Then group like things together (easier to spot duplicates), keep what you use, get rid of what you don’t.

2. Ask a friend for help. Do you have one really organized friend? A neat freak, perhaps? Or someone who embraces minimalism? Ask them to help you make those tough decisions about what’s worth keeping—before you actually ditch anything. Make a day of it, provide food and drinks, and keep an open mind.

3. Keep counters clear. To be tidy—you need to see your countertops. What items do you use most often? You can leave those on the counter, but stash the rest out of sight. If you cook a lot, put dry ingredients (spices, coffee, tea, etc.) in mason jars or canisters. If you have a lot of counter space, you can leave these decorative containers out. If your kitchen is on the smallish side, put them in a pantry or cabinet. You can also use mason jars to hold paper clips or rubber bands.

4. Manage your mail and other paperwork. To keep paperwork from piling up, designate a spot to stash current bills, permission slips, invitations, and more. Once you’ve organized them, designate 30 minutes a day to sort through your items, and either take action or toss them.

5. Add dividers to your drawers. A drawer with no compartments quickly turns to chaos, so get modular dividers or inserts. Group like-sized items, or dedicate drawers to certain functions.

6. Don’t over-buy. Buying in bulk can save you money, but if you don’t have the storage space, extra food and items just adds to the clutter. Designate a place for items you use and need to replace often, so you can easily keep track and prevent unnecessary purchases.

7. Get label happy. Get a label maker! Easy-to-read labels on all bins and containers means you won’t have to pull everything out when you’re looking for something. You can also use clear containers and jars so you can see at a glance what’s stored where.

8. Rotate your items. Just because you have items displayed on a cabinet, shelf or fireplace mantel, doesn’t mean the next “find” automatically gets added to the collection. Pick a minimum number of items to display, and rotate something out when you add something new.

Rieva Lesonsky is an entrepreneur, best-selling author and self-educated health nut. Follow her @Rieva.

Photo Credit: AG-ChapelHill/iStock/Thinkstock