Ideally, everything in your home should be useful, rewarding or beautiful and should bring you joy in some way. Having a peaceful and lovely environment in which to live is a vital element in achieving happiness and peace of mind. But clutter creeps up on us before we realize it and sweeps away our calm surroundings.

If your living space is too cluttered with things, there are steps you can take to achieve serenity by using intelligent home organization. A lot of people hang onto possessions only because they paid a lot of money for them or because others like them. In the end, you should only keep things that you really need or that make you happy.

One stumbling block for getting rid of things is the expectation that you'll need them at some point. Try putting a few things out of sight in the garage or a spare bedroom for a few weeks, and see if you miss them. As your clothing is laundered, start storing everyday outfits in one empty closet so you can get an idea of which ones you wear the most. Then go through the rest and weed them out ruthlessly.

Sometimes clothing and shoes seem as if they breed in the closet! If you see a piece of clothing that you don't remember buying, it's probably a sign that you have too many things. Start with a clothing try-on day, and separate your clothes into those items that fit well, are too loose and are too tight. Give away everything that doesn't fit and take a good, hard look at what you really want to keep from the rest.

Everything you keep, including your clothing, should give you joy. If you've only worn something once or twice, consider giving it to a women's shelter or non-profit thrift store. Pack heavy winter clothing and barely-there summer wear in shallow plastic organizers to store under your bed off-season. Buy a shoe organizer or rack that will allow all of your shoes to be stored compactly.

A lot of things that end up cluttering the home are outdated, underused, and are kept around in case they might be needed. An inspired home organization plan will help you clear out the old electronics, tools and this-and-that taking up space in your home. Try choosing one closet shelf to be devoted only to the 'just in case' items. You can use a washtub to hold all the little things and any kind of home organization containers that will fit on the shelf; then get rid of what's left.

It's amazing how much space you can free up when you get rid of excess things in your home. Home organization with plenty of free space can help clear your mind, and this is necessary to focus on what really makes you happy. It's true that when we have too many things, we end up spending too much time storing, maintaining, cleaning and organizing them. It's far better to keep only those things that truly give us joy because of their utility, amusement or beauty.