How to De-Clutter Your Home 

Why think about how to de-clutter your home? Excessive clutter is not only a cause of stress, but it is also a symptom of something else.

One of the first areas to start with when doing away with your inner Jones is to simplify your home. The best way to start this process is by learning how to de-clutter your home.

Clutter can affect every area of your life. From the time it takes you to do things (writing a grocery list can take an additionally long time if you can’t find a piece of paper to write the list on or a pen that works for 10 minutes). Clutter significantly affects your overall enjoyment of life.

The idea of tackling our clutter once and for all can seems so overwhelming and represents yet another job on our long list of tasks. Isn’t the whole idea of simplifying our lives about making it about less work and busy-ness rather than more?  For many of us, learning how to de-clutter our homes is a must do.  For those who have chosen the minimalist lifestyle, the benefits are well worth it.

Yet, you can learn how to de-clutter your home by devoting only a little bit of time to getting rid of the clutter you do have and maintaining a habit of remaining clutter-free.

If you take a few steps, bit-by-bit, you will have a more pleasant living environment, less stress, and a more efficient existence.

The point of learning how to de-clutter your home is to open up space in your life. It is not to deny you the pleasure and experience of things you really want to keep, but from the burden of having to house, clean and take care of a bunch of stuff you do not need or appreciate. It is liberating to get rid of clutter and mess.

21 Ways to Get Going on How to De-Clutter Your Home

  1. Be ruthless in deciding what to keep and let go. You can't succeed at learning how to de-clutter your home unless you are willing to let stuff go.
  2. Start with 4 boxes. Label them as 1. Throw away. 2. Donate. 3. Decide later (see one year box below as a potential solution to this box). 4. Definitely keep. If you are having a garage sale, label a box for that. If you have stuff you are handing down to your niece from your child’s closet, label it that way. Go through your rooms organizing this way.  This is how you start proceeding with how to de-clutter your home.
  3. Just start and move through your house, bit by bit, shelf by shelf, and room by room. De-clutter every closet, every drawer, each shelf in every room in your house. Don't forget to de-clutter storage areas, coat closets, linen closets, section-by-section of the basement, the attic, your car, your desk, the garage, the laundry room etc.  As you move through with how to de-clutter your home, it will get easier sand easier.
  4. Do the 30-day de-clutter fest. Don’t think you are going to de-clutter your home all at once. Do it for 15 minutes per day. Set a timer for 15 minutes and go wild de-cluttering for that time and then be done until the next day. Alternatively, de-clutter one drawer, shelf, cupboard or part of a room per day. Make a 30-day chart and check off each day you have spent de-cluttering. After 30 days, you will be amazed at how much you have accomplished and how much better, more organized and clutter free your home looks.
  5. Start with the Floor. When de-cluttering a room and you don’t know where to start, start with the floor. Get everything up off the floor and in its proper place or given away.  Learning how to de-clutter your home is easy once you get started by moving things off the floor.
  6. Follow the “one in” then “one out” plan. Every time you buy something, or bring something new into your home, make it a habit to get rid of something. So, if you buy a book, get rid of one and so on.
  7. Make it disappear after a year. For clothes, if you have not worn it in a year, get rid of it. If it is an item (like a juicer) and you have not used it in a year, get rid of it.
  8. For anything you are not sure to get rid of ask these 3 questions: Do I love it? Do I need it? Do I use it? If the answer is no to any of these questions, get rid of it.
  9. If you feel bad about dumping your stuff, donate it or give it away. I once put a “free” ad on our Used Victoria site for all of our old VHS movies (there were a lot) and someone who was very grateful came to my door and took them off my hands.  
  10. Stop bringing in new stuff into your living space. If you just do this, you will already not be making the problem worse. Just stop accumulating stuff. For more on this, see the 30-day rule below.
  11. Let it incubate for 30 days. If you see something that you want to buy, make an appointment in your day timer for 30 days in future. If, in 30 days it is still really important for you to buy that thing, then maybe you really do want it and that is fine. Otherwise, if the time has elapsed and you see it in your calendar and it loses importance, then don’t buy it.
  12. This tip was taught to me by one of the best restaurant servers I ever knew. Never waste a trip! Whenever you walk by a part of your home and you can pick up a glass to go into the dishwasher, a shirt to go into the laundry, a newspaper to add to recycling etc. do it. Do it as you are on your way to the bathroom, on your way to get a glass of water etc. That way you are able to stay on top of your clutter and the tidiness of your home. Thank you Julie.  
  13. The One-Year Box. Take all your items that you unsure about getting rid of (e.g. “I might need this someday put them in a box, seal it and date it for 1 year in the future. When the date comes, and you still didn’t need to open it to get anything, donate the box without opening it. You probably won’t even remember what there was in the box.
  14. Scan your photos to your computers. Remember those old boxes of photos that you have meant to sort and you have not gotten around to it? You can use a company to scan all those photos to your computer. Voila, no more old photos hanging around. One awesome thing you can do is put them on your computer screen saver so the photos can scroll through for your pleasure or that of your company’s or both. That way you can enjoy them rather than having them sit in a box never to be seen and taking up space.
  15. Gift everything. Books you’ve read immediately get recycled among friends or family. If you buy a new gaming system, donate your old one – and all the games.
  16. If you are a reader. Consider buying an electronic reader like a Kobo or Kindle. That way your books will not clog up any shelves, you will not need more bookcases, and you will not need a library in your home. If you still prefer the physical feeling of a book while you are reading it, start going to your local library. I used to regularly pay $15 to $30 for books, and now they are free and also I don’t have to store them in any way when finished.
  17. Recycle your old electronics and electronic paraphernalia. This means get rid of old lap tops, desk tops, electronic photo frames, VCRs, DVD players etc (and the chords that go along with them).
  18. Music and movies to Itunes.There is no need for DVD cases or CD cases anymore. This is the case for your movies, music and your software. Your music and movies can be stored on your computer. Your software can be downloaded. You no longer have to keep that disc “just in case.”
  19. Consider hiring a professional organizer to do the work for you. Then you don't even have to worry about learning how to de-clutter your home.
  20. Get rid of your clothes you are not currently wearing.This means don’t hold on to stuff in the hope they might come back into style (get rid of them). Also, don’t keep clothes that are either too big or too small for you. Accept your size as it is. If you end up losing the weight you hope to, reward yourself with new clothes anyway.
  21. Teach your kids. Whether we plan to or not, everything that we do teaches our kids. Our kids learn their values through us. Teach them the guidelines about reducing consumerism. When you go to the store with them, do not make impulse purchases for them. If they really want something for months, then consider buying it for them. I am not suggesting you create kids who have a scarcity mentality, but that you teach them the values you are trying to live which includes not continuously consuming tons of junk, plastic, and the relentless pursuit of toys. Remember that if you are constantly upgrading your own Iphone, Macbook Air, or big screen television, what it teaches your kids about consumerism.

I even feel clearer, less stressed and happier just writing this! Now to get to the real work …..


Written by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional

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