Decluttering 101

Can’t figure out what needs to go? Having trouble letting go of an item? Want to get rid of it but can’t figure out what to do with it? Or have you started decluttering but aren’t sure how to stay decluttered? Here are my principles for getting decluttered and staying that way!

  1. If it’s broken and can’t (or likely won’t) be fixed, get rid of it and don’t replace it.
  2. If it’s bad for you, get rid of it.
  3. Keep your memories in memory books, not in your clutter.
  4. If it’s not yours, give it back or give it the boot.
  5. Do not duplicate!
  6. Ditch hobbies you’ve ignored in the last year or two.
  7. Stop keeping gifts you don’t like just because they were gifts.
  8. Get organized by repurposing your old tupperware.
  9. Reduce your financial account clutter.
  10. Use up any extra consumable items that you have open.
  11. If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it. 
  12. Stop offering to be your friends’ and family’s storage unit. No, no NO you cannot ‘just hang on to this heirloom for a little while’ for them! If they want something stored, direct them to a storage facility. Make it clear to them that a clutter-free, serene home environment is important to your well-being.
  13. Stop asking other people to store stuff for you. People won’t stop asking you to hold onto things for them until you stop asking them to do the same. And get your stuff out of their basements.
  14. If looking at the object brings up bad memories, ditch it. Why would you want to be reminded of something awful?
  15. Start small. Don’t set the bar too high and set yourself up for failure. Set reasonable goals and reward yourself when you reach them (though preferably in a non-material way!)
  16. Don’t keep objects that make you nervous around them. If you’re so terrified of breaking that crystal vase that you keep it hidden in a closet, why not sell it for something you’ll feel comfortable using?
  17. Figure out where you have too many choices available to you and cut back. Do you need 60 earrings to choose from every morning? Or twenty kinds of tea? Or fifteen bras or ties, each in a different color and style?
  18. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come. Throughout your decluttering process, take pictures or notes of the condition of the room, drawer, box etc. Note your accomplishments. When you’re feeling down or overwhelmed, look back on how things used to be and realize how much better off you are now!


…more to come soon! ~joanna, 1/5/12


One thought on “Decluttering 101

  1. This is a wonderful list Joanna! I just joined the Compact (pledging not to buy anything new for 1 year – with a few small exceptions like food) but it’s still easy to acquire stuff. I’ve been trying to declutter and am making great progress, but your list is super-helpful. Thanks!

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