10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” —Dale Carnegie

The idea of living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuff sounds attractive to many. They have considered the benefits of owning fewer possessions: less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more money and energy for their greatest passions. They are ready to declutter but some get quickly tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do I begin?

Many begin to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated around the idea of decluttering their homes. That’s too bad. The decluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. In fact, there are a variety of people who have come up with some pretty fun, creative ways to get started.

Consider this list of 10 creative ways to declutter your home:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes. Leo Babauta at Zen Habits recommends 18 different 5-minute decluttering tips. Pick one today that sounds appealing. Or better yet, pick a random number 1-18, read the specific tip, and commit 5 minutes to completing it.

2. Give away one item each day. Colleen Madsen at 365 Less Things gives away one item each day. Over the past several years, she has experienced quite a transformation simply reducing her stuff one day at a time.

3. Fill one trash bag. Early in our journey towards simplicity, one of my favorite decluttering techniques was to grab a simple large trash bag and see how quickly I could fill it. While much of what I collected was trash, this could also be used to fill a bag for Goodwill.

4. Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. This experiment could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home (cleaners, toys, linens, tools, hobbies and craft items).

5. Make a list. Dana Byers recommends creating a list of places/areas in your home to declutter beginning with the easiest… which doesn’t sound all that creative until she adds this note, “When you’re done with one area, STOP.” This list could be made as easy or difficult as you desire based upon what areas of your home make up the list (drawers/closets/rooms). And could easily fit into any schedule.

6. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house. On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my wife and I… and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.

7. Change your perspective. Unclutterer offers a powerful approach to decluttering when they offer a number of strategies to help you change your perspective and begin to notice some clutter you may have missed. Among their ideas: take photos of your house, invite over a toddler, or ask the boss to meet in your office. With all of the examples, the hope is to cause you to see your home in a new light.

8. Experiment with numbers. For example, Courtney Carver invented Project 333 to challenge people to wear only 33 articles of clothing for 3 months. If 33 articles of clothing seems too little, adjust the rules as you need by picking a new number. The important thing is to challenge yourself to live with less and see what you learn from the experiment.

9. Use your imagination. Psychology Today recommends using your imagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove. Try asking yourself unique questions like, “If I was just buying this now, how much would I pay?” These creative techniques may prove to be very helpful for some with difficulties removing unneeded clutter.

10.The Four-Box Method. As we first set out on our journey to minimalism, this was the technique most often used in our home. As I set out to declutter an area, I brought four boxes: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Each item in every room was placed into one of the four categories. No item was passed over. Each was considered individually. Some projects took an hour… others took days or weeks. But the technique and principles remained the same.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these ten or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter. How you remove it is up to you.

***

Special thanks to each of you who have purchased a copy of Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life. This past week, it debuted as the #1 Self-Help book on Amazon. 

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hello there! This article could not be written any better!
    Looking at this post reminds me of my previous
    roommate! He always kept talking about this. I will
    forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have
    a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    This article just reminded me of Gifteng (www.gifteng.com) a site focused on its community members giving and receiving free stuff they/others don’t want. Perfect place to use for decluttering. Thanks, it’s a great article!

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  6. says

    This is so fun!
    I’ve been blogging just for the fun, inspired by your site and a few others. I love your light hearted posts and then those like todays’ that give depth. Several times I refer to your site from my site. And then today, up pops a ping from some anonymous person connecting your site to my site. I love tracking your progress and the inspirations that come, or the memory jogs. “That’s right, I remember that stage of decluttering!!” Keep writing . . . you inspire so many of us to stay focused.

    Anne (www.minimalisthomeschooler.com)

  7. Michelle says

    Always such quality advice here- thanks for that. Any word for those of us who feel like minimizing and de-cluttering are actually stealing time? I find myself constantly looking for “one more thing” to clear out. We are by no means hoarders and I often wonder how I can still have stuff to part with (I guess 3 kids, homeschool, families who pass stuff down…)!! I am actually making myself take a break from it because I get too caught up and I want to actually value what I am trying to create in our home. Thanks!

  8. says

    This is a nice tips for those who wants to have an organised things at home. I am a working mom with two kids, I don’t have any maid or helper to do daily chores at home, now I found this kind of blog I’ll try to take down notes an follow this rules.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Twana

  9. says

    Putting “trash” and “throw it away” first is a bit upsetting. Donating should be first and then recycling. Then hopefully there’s very little left to put into a landfill.

    • lisa says

      @ Caroline, for some people they really have too much stuff and limited resources. Donating and recycling take time, transportation, and energy some do not have.

  10. says

    Great tips. I have been using the tip of throwing one item out a day. What I have found interesting are a few things. 1) I don’t miss the things I throw out and sometimes cannot even remember what they were. 2) cleaning up has become quicker 3) it gets easier too move things on as the year goes on and 4) there is a joy giving items to people who need them and you are also happy offloading them.

  11. says

    Great tips!
    If I could just add one more…..

    Place toss baskets in areas that have the most clutter to encourage family members to toss unwanted items DAILY; then empty those baskets each time they get full…..toss, sell, donate, etc.

  12. says

    Joshua, thank you so much for these simple yet powerful suggestions.
    I live in Denmark, I never watch Oprah and I don’t know anything about feng shui or decluttering, we just call it a mess, though some of us think of it as an organized mess. I feel that exact way, although I have piles of crap, I still know where every little thing is placed, like, to the left of the screwdrivers, behind the black box and under the bag of rubber bands :) though this makes perfectly sense to me, people seem confused when they come to my home and my children do not share my brilliant sense of overview and/or memory. They tend to loose their things quickly and not to care for things for very long and I think it all comes down to my being a mess. It seems I have a lot to work on, and since I read this blog – and due to the fact that we danes are considered the happiest people on earth – I shall do so with a smile.

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. How to declutter your home | | February 19, 2014
  2. Minimalism | Daniel Lugn | April 12, 2014

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