“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” —Dale Carnegie
The idea of living a simple life with less stuff sounds attractive to many.
But often, they begin to feel overwhelmed,
Learning how to declutter your home and (and as a result, decluttering your life) doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. And the benefits are numerous.
The Benefits of Decluttering Your Life
There are many benefits to owning fewer possessions. Even then, it’s tough to move into action. That is… until the many benefits of getting rid of clutter reveal themselves:
Less to clean. Cleaning is already enough of a chore, but having to clean around things you have zero emotional attachment to (or worse, actively dislike) makes cleaning the house much more stressful.
Less to organize. Finding things suddenly become easier. Things don’t just “disappear” anymore. You can actually move around your home and enjoy the space, instead of moving around things that are in the way.
Less stress. Looking around at the clutter is a nausea-inducing sight once your home becomes cluttered enough. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to look around and see a home you love?
Less debt. Spending less time shopping for material possessions and adding to the clutter means your wallet and bank accounts remain fuller, your credit cards’ statements are lower, and your home doesn’t get filled with costly things you don’t need.
More financial freedom. Most American households live paycheck to paycheck (59% according to a recent survey done by Charles Schwab back in May 2019.) Nearly half of those surveyed carry credit card debt. Decluttering, paired with minimalism, will help you build up savings to keep you protected in case of unexpected emergencies.
More energy for your greatest passions. With less debt, more financial freedom, and
Ok, so now you know the benefits of decluttering your life, but you may be getting tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do you begin?
10 Creative Decluttering Tips
If you’re struggling and need guidance on how to declutter, you’ll need to get creative with your plans. Here are several interesting decluttering tips to get you started on decluttering your home:
- Start with 5 minutes at a time. If you’re new to decluttering, you can slowly build momentum with just five minutes a day.
- Give one item away each day. This would remove 365 items every single year from your home. If you increased this to 2 per day, you would have given away 730 items you no longer needed. Increase this number once it gets too easy.
- Fill an entire trash bag. Get a trash bag and fill it as fast as you can with things you can donate at Goodwill.
- Donate clothes you never wear. To identify them, simply hang all your clothes with hangers in the reverse direction. After wearing an item, face the hanger in the correct direction. Discard the clothes you never touched after a few months.
- Create a decluttering checklist. It’s a lot easier to declutter when you have a visual representation of where you need to get started. You can use our decluttering checklist.
- Take the 12-12-12 challenge. Locate 12 items to throw away, 12 to donate, and 12 to be returned to their proper home.
- View your home as a first-time visitor. It’s easy to “forget” what your home looks like to a new visitor. Enter your home as if you’re visiting the home of a friend. Write down your first impression on how clean and organized the home is and make changes.
- Take before and after photos of a small area. Choose one part of your home, like your kitchen counter, and take a photo of a small area. Quickly clean off the items in the photo and take an after photo. Once you see how your home could look, it becomes easier to start decluttering more of your home.
- Get help from a friend. Have a friend or family member go through your home and suggest a handful of big items to throw away or give to someone else. If you defend the item and want to keep it, your friend has to agree with your reason. If they don’t agree, it’s time to get rid of it.
- Use the Four-Box Method. Get four boxes and label them: trash, give away, keep, or re-locate. Enter any room in your home and place each item into one of the following boxes. Don’t skip a single item, no matter how insignificant you may think it is. This may take days, weeks, or months, but it will help you see how many items you really own and you’ll know exactly what to do with each item.
No matter which decluttering tip you choose to get started – whether it be one of these ten or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step in decluttering your life with excitement behind it.
There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter. Deciding how to declutter your home is up to you.
For more decluttering tips, watch this short video we put together. In it, I provide 10 quick decluttering projects, each completable in just 5 minutes or less:
General FAQ About Decluttering Your Home:
How do I create a decluttering checklist?
Creating a checklist is one of the easiest ways to keep track of what can and still needs to be reduced from your home. We’ve put together a Declutter Your Home Checklist you can use to instantly make a noticeable difference.
Just pick any 5-10 items from the list to start and you will be amazed with how quickly momentum builds up.
Do I need a professional organizer to help me get rid of clutter?
Absolutely not. Getting rid of the clutter in your home can be done by yourself. It can even be a fun family activity when using the decluttering tips found in this article.
How can I declutter quickly? Can it be done in a day?
Removing clutter from our homes and our lives doesn’t need to be rushed or done in a single day. It’s something that can be done over time and may even need to be done on a semi-regular basis. As long as you start the process today, you’re further along than you were yesterday.
Will owning less make my home look empty or boring?
Simple doesn’t mean sparse or boring. The opposite is true. With fewer mess and distractions, your home can become more peaceful. You can view your home as a space for rest and comfort, instead of a source of stress.
What’s the difference between declutter and unclutter?
They’re both interchangeable, though I prefer using “declutter.” The “de-” hints at being complete and permanent. I like to think of decluttering as something that solves the problem forever.
When should I declutter?
This is a personal question. When you find yourself overwhelmed by your possessions and tied down, it usually means you’re ready to start making a change. Note that this feeling is just a broad litmus test. The feeling of overwhelm can be different for everyone.
I have been on this journey for quite a while. Life events have disrupted my progress. But I am, once again, moving forward. This article refreshed my memory and pushed my motivation. Thank you so much! I will be listening and reading more of your insights!
One thing I will mention, is that I do NOT donate to GoodWill. They are a corporation, a company with a board of directors and a CEO. I would rather donate to places that actually give back to the community. Salvation Army, Hospice Thrift Stores, Church Thrift Stores, Homeless Shelters, Shelters for Victims of Abuse, AmVets just to suggest a few. The extra drive is worth it to me because I feel as though it is more personal. Helping a person and not a corporation. Definitely a extra motivator in my purging. ;)
Thanks for sharing.
gib ned says
this is perfect.
Switching to a minimalist way of living is the best decision i’ve ever made in my life!
Denise P. says
Could someone help, I don’t know what to do, really need to declutter BADLY. I’m down in my back and can’t be up very long at a time. I’ve had back surgery several years back. I don’t know where or how to get started, I want to do this so bad but when I think I’m ready to get started I change my mind…HELP..
Teresa Price says
Pick one drawer – one cabinet – then go from there?
Like this morning I started on my journey – I went through the cabinet under my bathroom sink, threw away stuff no longer used and found some things that belonged somewhere else and stored them away ! Took all of about 5 minutes before work.
Hope this helps!
Willene Owens says
Do you live in Dallas. There are some charities and groups that may help.
Anna Fox says
The idea of decluttering has been hyped and promoted for the last five years. However, just like with other things, how and when to start has always been the hardest. It’s great stumbling upon articles like this that makes decluttering sound so interesting given the other benefits it comes with besides decluttering per se.
Yes. Totally agree. Recently stumble on this site and feel so fortunate. Started a bit of declutter every day. :)
I began by decluttering my diet and body, to the tune of 112 pounds lost. In the past four weeks I’ve sent out seven car loads of trash, donated clothing and STUFF! I feel lighter mentally, physically and emotionally. I do have to come to terms with items that belonged to my son, who passed five years ago. That is another process entirely and one that will require much introspection. Thank you for your wonderfully insightful articles.
Ramona, lm sorry to hear of your son’s death. It’s understandable how difficult it must be to let some of his possessions go. My husband passed eleven years ago, and l still haven’t cleaned out his closet. Its just too hard. If you think time will make it any easier, I beg to differ. Memories are reignited and the pain of the loss starts all over again. I understand your sentiments exactly. Also, congratulations on the weight loss! How liberating! Wishing you much love, Stephanie ❤️
That is amazing.
And I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. I can’t begin to imagine.
I need to lose that amount of weight on my body and in junk. Any tips?
Ramona, my husband passed nearly 8 years ago. It takes time to let go. Something that makes it easier is to think 1) if I move, do I want to take all his stuff with me, and 2) would this item be a blessing to some one else if I gave it away or sold it?
Jean Mizer says
Great info! I’m moving from a 7 room house to a 3 room house. Struggling with letting stuff go!
best post, good work
Trying to stick with decluttering because I’m sick of stuff. I’m 68, Getting rid of some is easy, but also struggle with parting some of it, my kids’ books, my deceased mom’s stuff, etc. Main issue is husband’s stuff. He grew up in a very organized uncluttered home, but didn’t inherit that wonderful trait. His clutter is driving me crazy. Unfinished projects, hobby stuff, hunting stuff, etc. I’ve succeeded in having him donate a few things recently, but how do you deal with someone else’s stuff? It’s making me depressed. I want more out of my life.
Hi Chris! Hope the New Year bodes well for you and family. When I read your message, one thing came to mind – that is to suggest that you purely focus on what you CAN do, and leave what you can’t, for now (e.g. dealing with other people’s stuff). Hopefully, when he sees you moving along with your own progress in your de-cluttering projects and becoming a much happier person in the process, he may decide to join you on your journey. God bless!
Tena Bova says
I find that helping guide my husband with his decluttering works amazing. I simply give him one item or area (small) per night to take a white trash bag and pick some items to get rid of. I also do the same each night. We are doing this for the entire month of February and so far he has gotten rid of 3 bags! Give it a try.