De-Cluttering Tips


Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw /

In the past two years, I have twice gone through the process of revisiting everything I own.  As a result, I have learned a couple of things, believe me!

There are many possible incentives to de-clutter.  One of the biggest that most people face is the need to do so for moving purposes.  But there are other reasons, as well, such as a new addition to the family, or another change which affects the dynamics of the family.  It could be death, divorce, a parent needing part-time or full-time care, the desire or need to be able to comfortably entertain because of a change in career, starting a home business — lots of possibilities!  If along the way you get discouraged, just watch an episode of “Hoarders” — may be the boost you need!

The de-cluttering process is tedious, sometimes painful, and can be extremely time-consuming, so don’t expect to accomplish it all in a short time.  Instead, tackle it in small doses.  Decide how much time you have this week, or this day, to devote to the process.  Once you know how much time you can spend on it, choose an area of the home that can be completed in that amount of time, whether it is one room, one closet, or one drawer.  It doesn’t matter how much you get done today — as long as you make progress — and continue to do so!

If there is someone who can help you be objective, include that person in the process as much as possible.  This could be a relative or friend — but choose someone who is basically NOT sentimental about the same things as you!

So here are a few tips (rules?):

  • FIRST, choose a charity that you want to support that takes donations of the type that you will be giving them.  That could mean Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, or whatever charity takes donations to be sold in their thrift store.  Then, on to the process!  But don’t forget that some of your items may be worth selling — so include this option for some things.  Might be nice to get some cash!

On each item:

  • If you have had it for more than a year without fixing it, either fix it right now or accept the fact that you probably never will — get rid of it!

(Exception:  If it is high-enough value to you, whether sentimental or monetary, and you truly only have an hour to spend de-cluttering today, and fixing it would take an hour, decide whether or not it is a high enough priority that you will fix it within a week — but get rid of it after a week if it is still not fixed by then!)

  • If you are not sure whether you need it or not, you probably do NOT.
  • If you no longer want or need it, decide whether to give it away, sell it or trash it.
  • If it doesn’t fit but is not broken or torn, give it away.
  • If it is broken or torn, trash it.
  • If it hasn’t been used in a year, get rid of it.
  • If it is only used seasonally, consider whether it is worth the storage space.

For craft items:

  • If it is an item you use in making crafts, the rules can be loosened a bit, but review each item to determine whether or not you expect to use it within the next year.  A year later, if it has not been used, then you will probably need to get rid of it, so be realistic!
  • You may want to refer to an earlier post I did called “Organization and Storage for Crafters” for some ideas on ways to more effectively use the space you devote to your craft(s).

Be absolutely certain during the process that NOTHING ELSE COMES INTO THE HOUSE unless it is consumable — like food.  That way, you are not filling up the spaces you just created with more stuff that you will later have to deal with in the same manner.  This will also help you learn to curb your impulse-buying habit — which is frequently the cause of our need to de-clutter in the first place!

One thing that helped me while I was de-cluttering was to gather the things up that I was giving away after each session of de-cluttering, and immediately putting them in the car so I would be forced to deliver them to the charity I had chosen for my donations.

There are plenty of things that can still be said about the de-cluttering process, but each of us has our own techniques and priorities.  And there are plenty of benefits of being de-cluttered, but that probably should be another post!

Have fun — well, at least, enjoy the results!


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