How to Declutter Your Life

How to Stop Drowning in Clutter

Photo Credit: AG-ChapelHill /

Stop Drowning in Clutter With a Few Easy Tips

Most of us don’t realize the extent of our clutter until we start cleaning house and organizing. As we go through paperwork and the variety of things that seem to accumulate in a household, they seem to multiply as we try and sort through it all.

Even if we get rid of some things, it’s never enough because clutter is not just about having too many things, it’s a space problem too. Tackling the root of the problem is the only way to ensure we don’t drown in our clutter or make it worse by hoarding.

Sort Your Clutter

The only way to tackle clutter is to start now — pick a pile and sort through it all. If the pile is material items, sort them into four boxes: keep, sell, donate, toss.

The toss items should be thrown away immediately so they’re out of sight. For the donate items, put them in your car right away and take them down to your favorite thrift shop. Otherwise, you run the risk of the items cluttering up your car.

The sell box is optional, as most people don’t want to be bothered with taking the time to sell something they own. However, if you have any items of value such as electronics, designer purses, antiques, collectibles or furniture, you may want to consider giving it a try.

Auction sites like EBay are great for selling used goods provided they’re in top condition. Craigslist is also useful for selling larger items like furniture and bicycles.

Do a Little Every Day

While you could attempt to get rid of your clutter in one fell swoop, chances are it’s a cumulative process that won’t take just one day to fix. Instead, make it part of your daily to-do list to tackle a pile a day and not contribute to any of the existing clutter.

In the process, you may discover more items you can get rid of or a better way to organize what you have. The important part is ensuring it becomes part of your daily life to deal with your clutter. A little can go a long way if you’re consistent.

Give Everything a Home

Clutter exists because it does not have a permanent place to live. One of the best ways to ensure clutter does not overtake your space is by giving everything a home.

Have a place for everyone’s shoes that’s out of sight. File all paperwork immediately or put it into an organizational tray for sorting later. Get a toy chest for the kids to put all their toys. When everything has a place, it’s also easier to get rid of things that do not fit into these places.
If you start running out of space, it may be time to do a purge. Try not to hold onto things you simply don’t have space for because you might need them in the future.

Be More Selective

In other words, be more selective about what you bring into your home. Next time you are tempted by an impulse buy, take a lap around the store you’re in and really think about whether you need the item.

Will it somehow benefit your life, bring you joy, or make a great gift? If not, you don’t need it. Even if it does fulfill one of these criteria, you still should not buy it — at least not right away.

Give yourself a couple of weeks to consider and do some research to get the best deal. Sometimes by then you will have talked yourself out of the purchase, which is often for the best.

Another way to reduce clutter by being more selective is with the ‘one in, one out’ rule. Whenever you want to buy something, you have to get rid of one item first in order to make room for the new item.

However, this really only works if your items all have a home and you already have an organizational system in place. Otherwise, you may have to employ the ‘one in only if I can get rid of one bag of stuff’ rule to reduce the clutter that has accumulated.

Selectivity is especially essential when it comes to paperwork. While we all adore the things our kids bring home from school, unless it’s the most adorable thing they’ve ever made, we can’t keep it forever.

Kids do projects all the time at school and these items can quickly accumulate into clutter if not tackled immediately. Keep the nicest items in a box or basket and photograph everything else. As for homework and quizzes, only keep the paperwork from that grade, as they may need to refer to something from an earlier quiz for a final exam or test later in the year.

If your home is plagued with clutter, it is possible to get through it all. Take it one pile at a time, one day at a time, and employ a professional if necessary. There are professional organizers out there who can help you mentally detach from items you are unnecessarily holding onto, in addition to employing an organizational system that will work for you and your lifestyle. Chances are once you declutter your physical space, your metal space will benefit as well.