How to De-Clutter Without Stressing


You’ve probably been thinking about how badly you need to de-clutter your home for a while now. Perhaps you tried, but can’t summon the energy to finish this beast of a project. Maybe you just don’t know where to start. But a systematic approach to de-cluttering can prove to be surprisingly cathartic, as you free yourself from the excess material possessions taking up space in your home or storage unit. Purging what you don’t need allows you to start a fresh, uncluttered home life. Spare yourself headaches with this no-nonsense plan for downsizing, just in time for moving season.

1. Put on some high-energy music, similar to what you would listen to during a workout. This will help you work faster, which is crucial to making instinctive decisions about whether to keep or get rid of certain belongings. It will also help sustain your positive energy level throughout the endeavor.

2. Grab several large garbage bags, a few boxes and a marker. Label half of these “Trash” and the other half “Donate.” Label the boxes “Sell.” Then place at least one of each in every room or section of your home.

3. Carefully plan your attack. Determine in what order you will move through your home, one room at a time and one section of each room at a time. Adhering to this plan is crucial to avoid becoming overwhelmed or frustrated with the project. If you bounce around and try to work too many different spaces at once, there is a good chance you’ll give up entirely. Your best bet is to start with the first room off the front door and move inland. The same applies within each room — move through in a circular spiral, from the perimeter around the walls in toward the center.

4. Commence the de-cluttering. Sift through the contents of every drawer, cabinet and shelf that crosses your path. Assess every sock, fork and CD. Instead of getting distracted by the rediscovery of your old Tamagotchi pet, focus on making quick judgment calls on whether something stays or goes. If it stays, let it be. Don’t try to work cleaning and re-organizing into these de-cluttering plans — save that project for another day.

5. Separate sell-able items. When you come across unwanted belongings that definitely aren’t trash and are probably too high-value to donate, consider selling them. If you think you can get cash for any electronic, clothing or furniture item, place it in one of the designated boxes. When you’re done decluttering, immediately schedule yourself a few hours to post ads online later. Hold yourself accountable to getting this done, or you’ll be left with yet more clutter sitting in a pile by the door.

6. Plan a trip to Goodwill or your charity of choice. The same way you have to mandate yourself to sell unwanted belongings, do the same for donations. Pile your bags into the back of your car as soon as possible, and swing by a local donation bank as soon as you have a minute.

7. Victoriously march to the closest Dumpster and toss in your “Trash”-labeled bags. Set a calendar reminder to repeat the process in exactly one year. You’ll be surprised how many of the items you desperately clung to the previous year end up in the trash the next.

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