Once you’ve successfully decluttered areas of your home or workplace the real challenge begins. If you’re not vigilant clutter will begin to creep back into your life. Use the following ground rules to keep your environment clutter-free:

One-in, one-out policy

When you receive the latest magazine issue, toss out last month’s issue; you buy a new coat, toss out the old coat; you get a new sandwich maker, toss the old one.

Stop things from entering the house

With all new items ask yourself, “Where would this live? Would I actually use this? What do I already own that does what this can do?”

Make it easy to put things away

Have accessible storage containers for kids’ toys, a canvas bag for recycled shopping bags, a wall mounted key rack for house and car keys, a designated box for camping gear, small baskets in the bathroom for personal items.

10 minutes

Set aside 10 minutes each day for dealing with common clutter such as clearing up kids’ toys, magazines, clothes, used batteries, and shopping bags.

Handle it once

When looking through mail decide whether it requires correspondence or can be tossed immediately. The point is to deal with it once only.

Refresh your wardrobe.

At the beginning of a new season, turn all the hangers so they face to the right. After you wear an item, turn its hanger around to face left. Once the season’s over, keep only the clothes on the hangers pointing to the left.

Set up a charity bin.

Every month schedule a trip to the local charity shop to donate unwanted clothes, toys, gifts, and furniture.

Have an annual garage sale.

Let the kids be in charge of this — they are responsible for collecting goods to sell, they do the marketing with flyers and street signs, and they get to keep the money from any sales.

Digitize common items.

Scan needed receipts, bills, and other financial papers, and store them on your computer. Do the same with photos.

Dr Bruce Wells is a happiness expert and a professional speaker. He is the author ofHappiness Anywhere Anytime. Visit his website to participate in the Happiness Challenge.

Take some designs cutes from a clutter-free home that’s stayed clutter-free: