Clutter before and after

Table of Contents

Ever felt that your home is overwhelmed with boxes of mementos and unused stuff?

It’s probably time to declutter!

We asked 14 experts “How to declutter your home for simple living?”

See their amazing tips below!

Sophie Kaemmerle

Neighborhood and Home Improvement/Decorating/Organization Expert

Makeover your schedule and important papers

Do you find school homework lying on the table, schedules on your phone but nowhere else, and sports forms hidden under piles on the counter?

Set up a command center in the busiest spot in your home (typically the kitchen).

Include a whiteboard calendar, a wall file for important bills and papers, and a cork board for attaching important papers that need immediate attention.

Use a different colored whiteboard pen for each member of the family to help keep the schedule organized.

Each day as you go through backpacks and bags, check for papers and dispose of any that you do not need to keep right away in order to avoid piles on the counter.

Read related article: 19 Best Books on Minimalism and Simple Living

Organize your kitchen cabinets to save time and money

You may already know that an organized kitchen saves you time when cooking, but did you know that it also saves you money?

When your kitchen cabinets and fridge are clean and organized, you know exactly what ingredients you have on hand and don’t overbuy the same things.

Also, a messy kitchen doesn’t beg for home cooked dinners. A kitchen that is unrelaxing and cluttered screams “take out.”

Over time eating out gets costly. So decluttering literally saves you money and actually pays.

Get your bathrooms in top shape with a little organization

Bathrooms are typically the smallest rooms in the home yet can easily be the messiest.

The smaller space requires the ultimate organization and decluttering to stay neat.

Regularly check your medicine cabinet for expired items. Pitch anything that has passed its best by date so it’s not taking up important space.

Keep items you don’t use regularly separate from items you use daily.

Install a shelf above the bathroom door to create extra storage. It’s perfect for stashing extra towels, toilet paper, and bath products.

Invest in divided drawer organizers and under counter baskets to store all your bathroom items from towels to make-up and shaving items. It helps give everything a home.

Invest time and energy in your hardworking garage

If your garage is like most, it becomes the household catch-all for everything and anything.

That combined with the hardworking needs of a garage—storage, tools, bikes, lawn/gardening supplies—it can become an unorganized land mine quickly.

Now’s the time to get it organized and keep it organized.

The first big step in garage organization is to purge like you mean business. Once you’ve gone through one big clean-up—do it again—toss like your life depends on it.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do I need this for something?

Can it be easily and inexpensively replaced if necessary?

Do I really want to store this again?

Once the exercise of purging is done, you’re ready for step 2.

Since the garage is responsible for so much, create areas for storage. One area could be for bikes and outdoor equipment, another for gardening/yard supplies, and another for tools.

The garage is ideal for vertical storage units, especially due to the fact many items stored in the garage aren’t used very often and need to be accessed.

Keep everything possible in large storage bins that are properly labeled. If you’re feeling ambitious, paint the walls and floors. You’ll find you’re more interested in taking better care of the garage.

Set up a system for toss, donate, save

As you venture into each area of your home that needs organization and decluttering, set up three big storage bins.

Label the bins with toss, donate and save.

The idea is to declutter and purge before trying to organize the space.

One big mistake people make is attempting to store everything without getting rid of anything.

Look at the stuff you’ve collected and really think about how much you need or love each item.

If you haven’t used it in years, if something doesn’t fit or has something wrong with it or it has an expiration date that’s passed, place it in a bin to toss or donate.

Now’s the time to minimize clutter and only save what you genuinely need and use. If you’re torn about tossing something, put it in a storage bin temporarily and if after 3-6 months you don’t miss it, it’s time to toss or donate.

Marty Basher

Home Organization Expert, Modular Closets

Organized and decluttered closets are one sure-fire way to a more organized life

You will save time and energy not having to painstakingly piece outfits together every morning or searching for that other mitten, soccer shin pad, or you name it. Plus your mind will feel decluttered knowing that behind your closet and cabinet doors, everything is laid out exactly as you need it to be.

Related: How to Be More Organized (30 Experts Share Their Best Tips)

Here are a few ways to accomplish getting your closets into shape:

#1 A hanging shoe organizer is not just for shoes!

Attach a clear shoe organizer with pockets to the back of your clothes or linen closet. Use it to store all the stuff that gets lost in most closets.

For clothes closets, use it to store socks, gloves, swimsuits, scarves, and more. For the linen closet, store cleaning products, lost socks, a roll of garbage bags, sponges and scrub brushes.

#2 With just a few minutes of your time, your clothes closet can be organized and coded to make getting dressed a breeze—it doesn’t matter whether your closet is big or small.

Start by categorizing all the shirts. Once pulled together, file them by short sleeved and long sleeved, then match up by color.

Next, do the same with pants and skirts.

Now, when it’s time to get dressed, you can simply look for a shirt by sleeve length and color. Then you can quickly pair it with a skirt or pants of choice.

No more sorting through racks of clothes looking for a missing item stuck between two totally unrelated things.

#3 If you’re dealing with a small closet, think outside the box and create more space by building up and down.

Add storage cubes on top of a shelf. Add a second hanging bar if you need more space to hang clothes.

Storage bins fit nicely under hanging clothes rods to store off-season clothes.

#4 One of the easiest ways to store belts and scarves is by hanging them from simple plastic shower curtain rings.

They’re inexpensive, come in big packs and perfectly hold those items that may not have another place to go. Simply snap the ring into place on your closet rod and you’re ready to go!

Michelle Hale

Professional Organizer | Co-founder, Henry & Higby

File Dividers:

Don’t just relegate this organizational tool to the office as they can be used throughout the house. Use them to store cookie sheets in your kitchen or even clutches and small handbags in your closet.

Decluttering:

To achieve and maintain a tidy small space, you need to start by decluttering it and then finding a home for everything that is staying in it.

When starting the decluttering process, you can start with the categories below which are items that often tend to gather in homes and can often be removed without an issue:

  • Magazines: Outside of some sentimental exceptions, getting rid of old magazines will clear up a lot of space in your home. If you have some attachments to the content – whether for work or for pleasure – take a few moments to go through each issue and cut out the article and/or images that you would like to reference down the road.
  • Books: Clear your cluttered bookshelves by getting donating books that you have already read or no longer need.
  • Linens: You really only need one extra set of linens per bed so clear out your linen closet of any extra sets or single pieces whether they are fitted sheets, top sheets or pillowcases.
  • Cords/Chargers: Gather all of your old electronics, cords, and chargers and take a hard look at what you actually still use and what can be donated to local charities.
  • Take-out Items: Throw out the plastic containers, utensils and sauce packets that come with food deliveries. Even if you reuse them for leftovers or lunches, there are probably a lot of extras in your home.
  • Plastic & Reusable Bags: Most people have a bag full of plastic shopping bags at home. Unless you use them regularly as garbage bags, you can probably declutter your kitchen by getting rid of at least some of them. This can also apply to “reusable” bags which most stores seem to offer now. A collection of ten reusable bags or totes is typically enough for the average household.
  • Paperwork: This will require a bit of work as you will need to sort everything before it is tossed but going through your paperwork is a good idea to help clear the clutter. Outside of important paperwork needed for taxes, insurance or family, most of it can be shredded.

Annie Draddy

Professional Organizer | Co-founder, Henry & Higby

Be Ruthless: If you are living in s small space, you need to be ruthless about the belongings that you keep and the new items that you bring into your home.

Every item should have a purpose and be something that you use or really love.

High Shelves: Maximize storage in small apartments by adding a shelf above doorways or high up in your closet if the ceilings are tall to store extra items like paper goods, luggage or seasonal items. (See attached photo for an example.)

Double Duty: Every piece of furniture in a small apartment should do double duty.

This means that the square-cube that your friends sit on when they visit doubles as storage for your craft supplies or that your coffee table ottoman also store off-season clothing.

Visual Space: Create and maintain a visually tidy apartment by getting items off of the floor.

From nightstands and lamps to even bikes or scooters, mounting furniture pieces and fixtures to the walls will help create more visual space as well as actual floor space.

Felice Cohen

Professional Organizer | Author, 90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (…or More)

The first step in decluttering your home for simple living begins with a simple question: What do you want your home to look like?

Think about this and picture it clutter-free.

No piles on the kitchen counter?

The dining room table not covered with stuff?

Closets you can open without the fear of something falling on your head?

The trick is to hold onto this image and remind yourself of your end goal as you begin to declutter, because along the way you are going to get overwhelmed. It happens.

As for the declutter process, here are a few simple tips to get you started:

#1 Put out one box for Donate and one for Trash, then give yourself a goal of putting 5 things in each box every day. (If you want to add more, go for it)

#2 Roll a pair of dice. Whatever number you get, that’s as many items as you need to donate/toss. (Kids love this)

#3 Set the timer on your phone for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, whatever your energy level is.

Then begin to work in one area, your sock drawer, T-shirts, Tupperware, etc. When the buzzer goes off, stop. You’re done. Unless you want to keep going.

These tricks remove the pressure of thinking you have to do everything all at once.

By breaking it down, by making it a game, it feels less overwhelming.

Nancy Haworth

Professional Organizer | Owner, On Task Organizing, LLC

Here are some of my suggestions on how to declutter your home for simple living:

#1 Take an inventory of your home by walking through it and making a list of items that can be sold, donated or consigned.

#2 Begin decluttering in the room that is your highest priority, the one space that bothers you the most.

#3 Sort through your home room by room, focusing on one box, shelf, drawer at a time.

#4 Gather similar items together, such as all sweaters or all skirts in one place. This will help you see how much you own, and make it easier to keep only your favorites and declutter the rest.

#5 When looking at each item, ask yourself when you last used it, and if or when you will use it again. If you haven’t used it in over a year, it usually means it can go.

#6 Save sorting through sentimental items such as greeting cards and photographs for last. These are the items that take the longest time to sort through.

#7 When decluttering, make one of these choices for each of your belongings: Keep, give away to friends or family, sell or consign, donate to charity, recycle or toss.

#8 Tackle the decluttering process in short bursts of time, after about 3 or 4 hours you may feel decision fatigue and will need to take a break.

Christina Giaquinto

Organizing Expert |Life Coach

Whether you live in a tiny apartment or a huge mansion, your home is a sacred place.

It holds your loved ones and encompasses endless memories, dinners, laughter, pizza nights, and love.

It is important to remember the meaning of your home and how special it is because it will act as a motivator when decluttering your home.

At the core of decluttering, you are getting rid of anything that no longer serves you

Your home should be filled with things you find useful and need, things that have meaning to you, and things that add beauty/ decor to the home.

Clothes, a spatula, dishes etc are purposeful. Photo frames and family heirlooms are meaningful. Art, knick-knacks, and furniture add beauty and decor to the home.

Simplicity in the home means you are conscious of what you have in your home and what you bring in your home.

If you are aware of what is inside your home, it will help you spend and buy less when you are out.

We convince ourselves we need more, but if you remember what the meaning of a home is at its core, you realize you really don’t need all that “fluff.”

The people, photos, memories, dinners together, hugs, laughter, and game nights are enough.

It is also important to remember you can add to your home as time goes on.

For example, with the holidays approaching I encourage my clients to only buy 1 -2 decorations at a store if they absolutely love them.

If you don’t see anything you love, don’t buy anything this holiday season. I add holiday decor to my home over the years – little by little.

Be conscious of what you are buying, and find joy in adding a little over the years.

If you buy every holiday decoration in site every single year, your home will be filled with an excessive amount of clutter. This applies to all other categories as well.

Decluttering your home may not come as easy to everyone, but it can be learned because it is a habit.

I naturally declutter and organize every day because it is a system and habit in my life.

If you begin to learn how to declutter and organize your home, I believe you will fall in love with the airy, light feeling your home exudes and find joy in keeping your home decluttered.

In your heart, you know if you need something or not. You have to be honest with yourself, and declutter anything that no longer serves you or your home.

Tips

Where to Start:

I always have my clients write down EVERYTHING they want to organize so it’s out of their mind and on paper, but then we compartmentalize it and start small.

Which area/room bothers you the most? This is a great place to start.

Worst Phrases You Can Ever Say:

As soon as you hear yourself saying, “I’ll put it here for now,” you need to STOP.

The 2 minutes it takes to put your things away has a direct effect not only on having a clean space but your overall well being.

You say, “I will put it here for now” over 15 items, and your sub-conscience knows that you didn’t put it away. That is mental energy you are taking up.

Think about how good you feel when you put it away. It feels like you checked something off your list.

Christina’s 8 Minute Rule * Perfect for the bedroom

A great rule that I swear by is my 8-minute rule.

Everyone that has ever tried this rule loves it.

I usually suggest my clients use this rule for their bedroom. Set a timer for 8 minutes, and put things away every day.

I like doing this before I go to bed. It puts my mind at ease and completes my day, but you can do it at any time that is right for you!

Whatever you can put away in 8 minutes is terrific.

The goal is not to finish organizing the entire room, but to do a little bit each day so by the end of the week your room doesn’t look like a cyclone.

This is going to prevent the space from getting chaotic. Eventually, this will become a habit, and when it becomes a part of your lifestyle your space will never get out of control.

Julie Finch-Scally

Consultant in Hygiene Management & Cleaning | Managing Director, The Duster Dollies Pty Ltd

Decluttering is more traumatic to older people than the young.

Usually due to the number of mementos that have been collected over the years.

But that doesn’t mean that the younger generation are not hoarders. Many people dislike the idea of giving things away, but there comes a time when everyone has to be sacrificial and remove the excess in their home.

Having been in the cleaning industry for over 25 years I have been in homes where hoarding has become a problem. These people live in a confined space surrounded by piles of things.

Of course, this is a problem which affects a percentage of the population, but the rest of us finally bite the bullet and do something about those extra bits that have to go.

The main problem is how to get started. Here is a list of the easiest ways to reduce the clutter, how and why:

Remove 5/8th of collection of books, DVDs and CDs

  • The criteria for keeping must be “will I read, watch or listen to this again”.
  • Charitable organizations are always happy to take books, DVDs and CDs. They are easy items to sell.
  • Pack in boxes and get the charitable organization to pick them up or take them to the retail outlet.
  • Pack remaining books, DVDs and CDs into fewer books shelves and give away the excess shelving through the internet.

Get rid of broken and excess furniture

  • Many people keep broken furniture with the intention of fixing it one day. That day never comes – the time is NOW to remove it.
  • Most charitable organizations will no longer take furniture unless it is in pristine condition or antique – try selling or give away on the internet.
  • Collect remaining pieces together and leave out for Council collection or take to Resource Centre (Rubbish tip).

Empty cupboards and extract excess glassware and crockery

  • Usually, one piece of a set has been broken – try and make a smaller set of what is left and throw out or donate to a charity the extra piece.
  • If the original six-piece set is now five, make into a set of four.
  • Similar glasses or mugs leftover can be turned into an oddball set for everyday use.

Check clothes in wardrobes and drawers

  • Remove items not used for over a year.
  • Those pieces in good condition place in heavyweight rubbish bag and donate to a charitable society that sells second-hand clothing.
  • Clothing that is no longer in good condition, place in the council rubbish collection bin.

For older people with lots of mementos and jewelry

  • Work out which item you wish to pass on to which member of the family.
  • Make those items as Christmas, birthday or anniversary presents to the chosen family member.
  • Write an explanation of its history and the reason they have received the item so they think of it as an heirloom.
  • Delivering these special items to family members saves having to put the information in a Will – and no one can claim one piece that another might want.

In homes where grown-up children have left all their childhood memorabilia and Mum and Dad have been storing the stuff for years

  • Invite all the children and their family around for a special Sunday lunch.
  • Tell everyone they have to clear out all their stuff.
  • Provide them with boxes for what they want to take home and keep, rubbish bags for what has to be thrown away, and more boxes for things that will be sent to a charity.
  • Have a long lunch with much wine and enjoy the tales of each child as they reminisce about the items they found while churning through their stuff.

Amy Trager

Certified Professional Organizer

Keep only items that enhance your home now for what your current lifestyle is, or what you aspire it to be

In my experience, there is one simple rule to create a home prepared for simple living: Keep only items that enhance your home now for what your current lifestyle is, or what you aspire it to be.

It’s a different set of items for everyone.

Whatever the items are, they should be items that you literally need, genuinely use and thoroughly enjoy.

Everything else has the potential to get in the way of your end goal.

Rid your space of items that make life cumbersome or remind you of sadder times. Make room for light and experience, instead of more clutter.

Paloma Baillie

Professional Organizer, 5miles.com | Owner, Balance by Paloma

The key: take it one room, one project, at a time, which I call “D-Day.”

Discover: Open up boxes, closets, and items you haven’t seen in over a year. Sort items into four separate boxes (Keep, Donate or Sell, Recycle, Trash).

Declutter: Deciding what to do with an item, ask yourself: Does it improve your life? Does it really hold sentimental value? Would it be hard to replace?

If the answer to those questions is no, it’s time for that item to go.

Discard: Throw away trash or sell those things you haven’t worn or used in the last six months.

Donate: Or choose your favorite charity or donation center and create a tax write-off for your return.

As the average American home contains roughly 35 unused items, most of us have plenty of clutter we can get rid of. This can help rid toxic accumulation within our personal spaces and, in turn, breathe a little easier.

Luis Perez

Founder and CEO, Remoov

The first thing to do is to determine what you need and what you don’t

For example, for clothing, anything that you have not used in the past year should be out. Some items may have sentimental value so obviously, that is a keep.

But it is important to keep the item because you want it and not because you want to give it to your kids down the road.

We are seen more and more that kids do not want all the clutter that their parents have kept for them. This is particularly noticeable in categories like china, furniture, and collectibles.

Once you’ve decided what you want out you need to decide what can be sold, donated or recycled. Keep in mind that because of changes in style an item that you may greatly value may be very hard to sell or even donate.

Ben Soreff

Professional Organizer

The trick to staying organizing is simple living

Most organizing products or solutions are over-complicated or just pretty but not actually helpful. A system needs a structure like open shelves but also needs to be easy to use.

First focus on quantity.

You can make the best golf ball organizer in the world but if you don’t play golf it is unnecessary. After you know what you are keeping then find the best system for it.

Clear plastic bins work great for remoter storage items like keepsakes, holiday, seasonal and clothing. If you have kids the system needs to be even simpler.

Focus on what is exactly coming home with them from school and what is the action for each item (some stuff goes back to school, some stay home and some gets tossed or recycled).

Christina Hidek

Organizing Guru | Decluttering Coach

So often my clients have trouble bridging the gap between the life they’re currently living and the life they really want to live and get overwhelmed and stuck.

The transition into a simpler life with less stuff to manage needs to be gradual and intentional so that items that are needed aren’t unintentionally discarded.

The easiest way to declutter your home for simple living is to break up the process into manageable chunks of 15 minutes or so.

I call this method the timer game.

To play, you literally set a timer on your phone or microwave and do nothing but de-clutter for that time.

Do nothing but put items away and if there’s no designated place to put the item, consider if the item is still needed or if it’s time to let it go.

Working in these short, but concentrated time blocks will make the process of de-cluttering effective, but manageable.

Allen Michael

Editor, HomeViable.com

Pack it up before getting rid of it

Take steps to purge your house and getting rid of all of your stuff.

Instead, try boxing up what you don’t think you’ll need, and pack it away for a period of time.

Evaluate what you truly didn’t need, and see if there is anything you missed. Then, you can always grab it before its gone for good. You might find that you can get rid of even more, though.

Bonus: Simplify Related Areas

Go further than just decluttering your home – work on related areas of your life as well.

Simplify what you eat, and focus on putting more wholesome things in your body.

Streamline your social life, and try focusing on deepening your friendship with a few people, rather than juggling a lot of friendships.

You’ll notice the effects of simplification naturally spill themselves over back into your home.

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The biggest question I get asked about decluttering a home is “where do I start?”

I know it can be so overwhelming when you have a project this size. Especially one that is in your face day in and day out. Clutter can be contagious. If your home is cluttered it can easily spill over to your finances, your job, even your head can be cluttered with to-do lists and unfinished projects.

Things can get buried under the clutter, important things and that in turn can cause stress in your relationships, your home and even your life.

With so many things affected by clutter, it is not surprising that clutter can actually make you sick. Both physically and emotionally.

Don’t worry though, I have been where you are right now. And I have made it to the other side. Yep, I went from cluttered to organized. And you know what? If I can do it, you can too. I promise!

Confession time. I used to hide my dirty dishes in the oven.

I know, right?!

Then one night my boys decided to make a pizza. They turned the oven on without checking inside and I am sure you can guess what happened next. They just about burned my house down!

That was the slap in the face that I needed. My clutter issues where endangering my family. Dramatic? Maybe. Effective? You betcha!

knew I needed to get things cleaned up and quick.

I forced myself to clean things up and clean things out. I walked into our most lived in room and just started. I put on music and tuned everything else out.

It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. For my family and myself.

And you know what? It is the best thing I could have done. I love my home now! It is my sanctuary, my zen. I love to be here and I love to have people over.

And life is sooooo much easier!!

Now, it’s your turn. If you’re ready to start decluttering, let’s get your very first room streamlined shall we?

How To Start Decluttering Your Home. 10 Easy Tips.

Tip #1 Take out the trash

I like to call this one of the Three Crucial Steps to Decluttering. Just take a trash bag and walk around your home. If you see any trash at all grab it and keep on going. Don’t touch anything else, do not get distracted. Just remove the trash and move on. Papers, napkins, tissues, pop/soda cans, newspapers, magazines, whether you recycle it or trash it the point is to remove it.

Tip #2 Dishes belong in the kitchen

If you have kids at home like I do you may have to do this tip every….single…..day…. I am not sure what it is about my boys, but water glasses can be found scattered throughout my home when they are around. This little tip takes just a few minutes and can go a long way to clearing out some of the visual clutter in your home.

Tip #3 Make a weekend basket

This is my favorite “new” tip I learned and I LOVE IT. Have a basket for all papers and reading materials. A clothes basket, a plastic basket or even a box will work perfectly. Keep all papers that need read over or paid attention to in this basket. Whether you have a nice one that can remain out or a basket that you keep in a closet or spare room. The simplicity of this tip is awesome.

As soon as you come across any papers that cannot be thrown away such as mail, toss it in the basket. Make a date with your basket every week, for me that is the weekend. Knowing that your basket will get attention every week will keep you on top of financials and keep your home from being overrun by paper clutter. I have this awesome huge hinged basket and I just love it. It has a lid, fits perfectly on my bookcase and holds quite a bit.

Please know that I realize everyone is at a different stage of decluttering. When I first began I had 5 clothes baskets of paper to go through. It took time to widdle that down but now I have graduated to a smaller basket that I can easily get through weekly.

Tip #4 Command center

Whether your kids are young or grown and on their own like (most of) mine, having a family command center is a lifesaver. I think once your kids move out you need one more than ever.

I am constantly coming across things that I no longer need but I know my boys will want. Being able to put that item in a basket for them keeps the clutter down in my home and keeps me from forgetting to give it to them.

This also works well with mail which you will continue to get for a while after they move out. Whatever it is, if it’s for them put it in their designated spot. Try these super affordable baskets for your own command center.

I love these baskets because they are collapsible and have handles for easy labeling.

If you have younger children this tip can be a lifesaver. Lunch money, permissions slips, report cards can all get lost in a cluttered home. Having a system set up for these items will help keep the school clutter under control better than you think. You can read just how easy it is to set one up here.

Read: How to Create a Family Command Center.

Heck, even if you don’t have any children at all a family command center is too important to skip. Having a central hub to your home is a game changer for anyone that has a problem with things falling through the cracks.

Tip #5 I love hampers!

These perfect and super inexpensive hampers are amazing at keeping clutter down. I have several of these perfect and super inexpensive hamper baskets and love how much they hold and how easily compact they are. They come in different sizes and are easy to carry around. Here are some uses for these hampers that may just help you out with the clutter.

  • Kid’s stuffed animals.
  • Blankets in the family room.
  • Pillows
  • Dirty clothes-so easy to carry to and from the laundry room.
  • Linens-if you do not have a place to house sheets and extra blankets this works perfectly.
  • Pet toys-use a small one for your pet’s toys and keep in the corner of your room.
  • Check the baskets out here and find your own awesome way to use them!

Tip #6 Trunk it

My friend does this tip and I really love it and it’s a super simple way to start decluttering. If you come across anything you no longer want, take it and put it out it into the trunk of your car right now. Keep a large box inside to house items that you want to donate. Clothes, dishes, toys, books. Whatever it is. Try to fill that box up each week. If this is scary for you, you can start with a smaller box. Whenever you are out running errands, make a point to stop and empty your box at a church or donation center. It will help others and help you as well.

Tip #7 Stop the paper

If you are having a problem with paper find a way to eliminate all that comes in. You can go paperless for most if not all bills. Read magazines online rather than subscribe and recycle all newspapers by using them in your garden or send them to your local recycling center.

Tip #8 Nothing new

If you have an overstuffed closet maybe it’s time for a hard Knox rule. Nothing new in-until you take 3 old out. Let’s think about it for a minute. Clothes are uber expensive today. When you are paying $30 (or more) for a nice top, why bring it home and hang it in a closet where it is getting mangled?

Clothes need to be treated with care, so make sure your clothes can hang freely without being crushed. Purchase no–slip hangars like these that keep shoulders from stretching out and as a new item comes in or if you have a top that you simply love, put it on one of your new hangars. After a month, only the clothes on those nice hangars are ones you love and should keep. The rest you can begin to donate (remember the box in your trunk??) to others that will love them for you.

Tip #9 Tough love time

STOP!

Do not buy anything else. If you are really serious about the clutter and just can’t deal with it anymore, THEN STOP BUYING THINGS. Yes, it’s really that simple. Make a commitment to yourself and your home. Nothing new comes in until you have the clutter under control.

Tip #10 Set up systems

From here on in as a new item comes into the home put it where it belongs right then and there. If you only have a system set up for paper clutter, then do it for only the new paper that comes in. Train yourself (and others) to respect the systems you worked so hard to establish. By using them actively you will slowly see the clutter dissipate. If you want a crash course in system creation, you can read more about it here.

Related posts: What You Can Do When Organizing Doesn’t Work For You.

I know you are overwhelmed, I get it. The thought of decluttering can paralyze anyone!

There is clutter in your house and you just don’t know where to start. Here is your where…..Stop what you are doing right now and look around you.

Find 5 things you can get rid of this very second. Go ahead, I will wait right here until you get back.

yes….I…..am…..waiting……

Did you do it? I hope you did!!

Every big project, even one this big has to start somewhere and if you just removed 5 things, then you got your start and the rest will be easy.

Follow these tips and between each tip remove 5 more things. By the time you are done, you will have removed 50 things from your home all the while setting up workable systems to keep your target areas under control!!

And remember why you are doing this.

The finish line is a streamlined, organized and tidy (or at least close to it) home. A place where you can recharge your batteries and relax. Your home will be cozy and it will be peaceful just like it should be.

And the best part? Decluttering is contagious!

Hey!!! Want even more decluttering tips??? Then you need to jump on over and read my super popular post:

A few final thoughts, I get it….really seriously get it. I was a HUGE clutter but. But YOU do not have to be one! Follow these tips, read all my other posts and you can finally begin to see light at the end of the tunnel. These tips are all the ones I used to take back control of my house. These are the same tips my own boys use in their homes. Why? Because they are super simple and THEY WORK.

Don’t wait.

Take the first step.

And take back your house and make it a peaceful home again.

Do you need even more help? Drop me a line right here and get specific tips that will help YOU. 🙂

Clutter in my home creates clutter in my brain. I cannot concentrate when I am surrounded by an unorganized mess of stuff. I have a feeling you’re on this page because you feel the same way. Has the stuff in your house completely overwhelmed you? We can solve this problem.

You can declutter your home and get your space back. Once you clear away the things that are not only filling up your house, but also cluttering up your mind, you will be able to breathe a little easier. You may be wondering how to declutter your home. Where do you even begin? I’m here to help!

How To Declutter Your Home

Let’s start with the big rocks first. Need step-by-step directions for decluttering your home? I’ve got you covered. Learn how to declutter your whole house step-by-step in this post. This is a process and likely won’t be finished in a day, but it can be done!

Got kids? Decluttering with kids in the house complicates things. Learn how to declutter with kids in this post.

Once your home is decluttered, you need to maintain it. I do my maintenance with mini decluttering sessions.

While decluttering, you need a checklist! Check out my whole home decluttering checklist and be prepared to tackle the job of cleaning up your home for good!

Not sure what things you should throw away when decluttering? I’ve got you covered with that, too!

“I have yet to see a house that lacked sufficient storage. The real problem is that we have far more than we need or want.”
― Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The above is one of my favorite quotes. We stuff our homes to the brim with stuff, and we find that we still aren’t happy. I feel such a weight lifted when I declutter and clear space in our home. Life is not about how much stuff you can accumulate. Declutter your home and really start living the life you’re dreaming of!

Are you done decluttering? Here are my tips for decorating your home after you’ve decluttered.

Recommended Resources for Decluttering Your Home

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

My favorite storage bins.

My family loves curling up with blankets in the living room. We bought this storage ottoman to hide them when they aren’t in use. I love the Better Homes and Gardens brand at Walmart. It’s really good quality for the price.

More Resources to Help You Simplify Your Life

Housekeeping Routines for Overwhelmed Moms

Monthly Cleaning Calendars

It’s amazing how clutter just happens, especially when you have kids, isn’t it?

It doesn’t matter whether you work a job or you’re at home; if your kids are toddlers or teenagers –the to-dos and whatnots just keep piling up in corners, on surfaces and in that one special drawer.

Toys overflow their baskets and our feet painfully discover Lego bricks in the dark.

Mount Laundry grows like a volcanic peak — in the laundry basket, the corner of the bedroom and yes, even on the couch.

No matter how much we pick up, there’s always an endless supply of clutter. My husband and I, tired from our days, would ignore the piles. Then my keys would go missing. Or he wouldn’t be able to find his work badge. And we’d clean in a frenzy, snipping at each other about how we’ve failed yet again at the seemingly simple task of maintaining a clutter free home.

It looks like we were not the only ones struggling with this issue though.

According to a study conducted by UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF), clutter can lead to depression, anxiety and tension in the home.

Clutter starts small, but soon becomes overwhelming. We postpone decluttering until it niggles at our peace of mind a little bit each day, and eventually becomes a stressed-out frenzy that eats up an entire weekend leaving a trail of bitterness and exhaustion in its wake.

Last year my husband and I decided to break this cycle and take on the challenge of completely decluttering our home and keeping it clutter free.

At first it felt like a lost cause – no sooner had we freed up one corner of our home from clutter, new clutter piled up elsewhere in the home. It felt like a game of whack-a-mole.

Slowly though, we noticed something that changed the nature of the game and gave us the winning advantage. Most of the clutter in our home came from 5 specific sources. Simply by focusing on nipping each of these little sources in the bud, we have actually tamed the clutter monster.

Our home doesn’t necessarily look like it is from the pages of the Home and Garden magazine, but it sure is a far cry from where we were a year ago. Here are some of the secrets to having a clutter free home, especially when you have kids –

Tackle Clutter Source #1: Laundry — The Never Ending Saga

The Dilemma: Unless your family decides to become nudists who never use towels or sheets, your laundry is never done. Embrace this fact, and work within its constraints.

The Solution: The first order of business is to have a laundry collection system that actually works.

We use tall bins next to our machines, one for whites and one for colors. We all have baskets in our rooms. Two or three times per week, we and the kids all bring our laundry down and sort it into the baskets near the machines.

Next, set a schedule so that laundry does not become overwhelming. We used to have piles of clothes so deep and wide that we couldn’t reach the machines. The more clothes that piled up, the more urge we had to just shut the door and walk away.

My family now commits to one load of laundry per day. We throw it in the wash before we leave for work, and we pop it in the dryer on our way in the door at night. We try to take it out after dinner, fold it and put it away. It doesn’t always work out that way, but we’re a work in progress. We do find that we’re much happier when we stick to the laundry schedule.

Because the laundry is at a minimum, our outfits and specific articles of clothing are easier to find. For example, my daughter always has a clean set of gym clothes ready. Before we instated our laundry system, she would search frantically through the heaping pile of to-be-folded clothes, or worse, she would have to take a dirty shirt to school.

If your children are over the age of six, they can be enlisted in the task of laundry. You do not have to suffer alone. Let your young kids put their own clothes away. By age ten, teach your children how to run the machines, and have them take turns doing the daily load. Make it clear that everyone puts away their own clothes.

Whether you commit to one load per day, or three loads per week, the key is to schedule your laundry so that it doesn’t pile up. Make your routine fit your family’s needs. Stick to your laundry schedule, and you’ll find it a lot easier to maintain a clutter free home since you’ll never have to scale the imposing Mount Laundry again.

Tame Clutter Source #2: Toys, Toys Everywhere!

The Dilemma: Did you know that toys weigh twice as much when you’re putting them away as when you’re taking them out to play? They gain even more weight if your home has stairs.

Okay, not really, but according to my kids, this must be true.

If your children are like mine, all things are dropped randomly once interest is lost. And there those things stay until the house is an unnavigable ocean of plushies, Lego bricks, art supplies, games and the occasional important piece of homework hiding beneath.

The Solution: Toy control is a three-pronged approach: Limit, Contain and Donate.

Limit: Reduce the number of toys your child has available at any given time. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be removed from your home. Get storage bins that can be placed on high shelves or under the bed, and remove half of your child’s toys. Every three months, rotate the toys out, placing those that were not used in the bins, and retrieving stored items one-for-one.

When we rotate toys out, the kids feel like it’s their birthday. They find toys they forgot they owned, and their interest is renewed. Sometimes they even surprise us and suggest that we donate certain items that no longer interest them.

Limiting toys simplifies the cleaning process for the kids. We have a bookshelf in the game room that contains games and Legos. Both of these activities require the use of the game table. My kids know that they have to put all of the Legos back into their bins before taking out a game.

Similarly, we keep all game boxes. When a game is finished, all the pieces go back into the box, and the box goes back onto its shelf. Because we keep the shelf’s contents limited , there is never a question as to where something belongs.

Contain: Employ the What-Not Basket trick. Place small baskets or bins near your living room or stairs, and drop items into each child’s basket when you see it left around the house. Have your kids clean out their baskets as they get full, or once per week as necessary. Encourage your children to make use of their baskets.

Examine the storage systems you employ for toys. I realized that large bins overflowing with random toys are as stressful and unmanageable for the kids as are our piles of paperwork and random stacks of household items. Find small bins, appropriate for the size of a single type of toy collection, and label them. My daughter has bins specifically for Littlest Pet Shop animals, and another for accessories. My son has a small bin of matchbox cars, and all of his Pokémon cards are contained in binders. Give toys a specific home, and work with your children, teaching them to put their things away in these pre-determined locations.

Donate: Once or twice per year, enlist your child in the donation process. Many parents feel it’s easier to clear out the unused toys without their children’s input. However, making your child a part of this process teaches her the difference between want and need. Your child comes to understand that it’s okay to let go of items that no longer hold meaning for us. Plus with a donation receipt and a few free tax tools, you can take advantage of a tax deduction when you file your return for the year.

My children were born hoarders making it very hard for us to maintain a clutter free home. Everything was special. They had to keep all the things! Involving them in the donation process over the last year has helped them realize that it is okay to let go. Just last week, my daughter surprised me by voluntarily donating her American Girl doll. Her reasoning was that she’d outgrown it, didn’t play with it, and another little girl would love to have it. She realizes those dolls are expensive, and it made her feel good knowing that it would bring joy to another child.

My hope is to raise adults who understand that material possessions don’t equate to happiness. Moreover, I want them to make material possession an active, conscious choice, thus reducing the stress that comes from clutter.

Eliminate Clutter Source #3: The Crap-Catching Surfaces and Drawers

The Dilemma: We come home tired, knowing that there is still dinner, homework, baths and bedtimes ahead of us. We drop our junk mail, to-dos and other odds-and-ends onto specific surfaces, or we cram them into that one drawer until these areas of our homes are overflowing and unmanageable.

The Solution: Resist the urge to drop-and-forget. When you pull the mail from the box, you know right away which pieces can be tossed. Throw them away immediately. Set a garbage bin near your entry door specifically for paper waste, and trash those junk pieces the second you enter the house.

Purchase a wall organizer for important mail, keys, work badges, etc. and commit to using it every day. The one I use can be found here. Put this organizer near your junk mail can. File bills and important mail in their appointed places, and commit to a half-hour, once per week to clear out and handle those items.

Stop Ignoring Clutter Source #4 – Stuff That We Just Step Over

The Dilemma: With the above 3 main sources of clutter taken care of, we noticed that there was a lot less stuff piling around the house. But like I said at the beginning, clutter just has a way of happening.

Your children come home from a birthday party, tired and wired, and the goody bag gets dumped on the living room floor. Your daughter’s sleepover activity of “make your own bath salts” results in abandoned bags, bottles and jars all over the bathroom. Your son’s school project took way longer than expected, and the supplies get left all over the table in his haste to go to bed.

We parents tend to be perpetually tired, too. One look around a cluttered house, and the exhaustion doubles. We decide to take care of it later. But then later never comes. In our family, we would push off picking up until it became overwhelming, and we’d end up cleaning in a frenzy while verbally sniping at each other. It’s not a fun way to live.

The Solution: We have found that the best solution is to make a family commitment to a change of habit and rewarding ourselves for sticking to our decluttered life and ensuring we have a clutter free home.

Decide on a number of items that each person promises to pick up and put away each time they get up from the couch or screen. Encourage the kids to pick up after each other by making use of the what-not bins.

Designate specific storage bins or drawers for art and school supplies, and remind the kids to put away pens, crayons and excess paper after homework. Use time between activities to put away, rather than ignore.

Reward yourself with a bubble bath, a hot cup of tea or ten minutes of reading when you find that your home is not requiring constant cleaning.

Enlist every member of the family, and reward the kids when you see them picking up. We have marble jars for each of the kids. When they are caught being helpful, we put a marble in their jar. At the end of the month, we count them up, and the kids are rewarded. Mine are old enough that marbles have turned into allowance money. Younger kids can be rewarded with movies, trips to the park or family bike rides.

Resist the urge to use a “treasure box” as a reward system. Those just cause more clutter! I found that treasure box rewards, though small and mostly useless, became Big Important Things. My kids formed hard attachments to the treasure box items because they were positive rewards for a job well done. They became permanent fixtures at the bottom of the toy box.

Finally, Vanquish Clutter Source #5 – Stuff that Piles Up Over Time

The Dilemma: Daily declutter habits start us down the path of simplification and reduction of excess and a relatively clutter free home. But the process takes time, and meanwhile clutter still happens.

Our closets catch items that don’t have obvious homes. Our bookshelves become disorganized with daily use. The kids outgrow clothes, and their drawers overflow. Tax paperwork and bill receipts pile up even though they are no longer required. Kitchen gadgets break and get shoved back in drawers. We ignore all those clothes in our closet that we no longer wear.

The Solution: Schedule regular Family Declutter Days on your calendar. Pick one room and go through the clutter spots together. We help our children declutter their bedrooms. They help us sort through old books, games and movies in the den. We all work though the art supplies, removing the old, broken crayons and determining what needs to be replenished. My husband and I declutter our bedroom together.

Decide as a team what to keep, sell or donate. Finish the process completely in that one day. Do not box items and tuck them into closets or the garage; take donation items to your drop-off of choice. Put everything else in its appointed and appropriate place and be done.

You Can Achieve a Clutter Free Home and a Low-Clutter Life!

Having a clutter free home doesn’t mean that your home is 100% picture perfect all the time. Magazines belong on your coffee table. Games are played in your living room. Find your balance between utility and tidiness. You don’t have to live in a spot-free, model home. I find that there are certain types of clutter that bother me, and there are others I can live with. I simply choose to ignore the latter.

It has been less than a year since my family embarked on our declutter journey, and we’re already seeing results. It’s not perfect, but then when is perfection ever a part of the family equation?

Once we get a firm handle on one set of daily declutter tasks, we search out new ideas and work them into our lives. The result in our home is less stress, and fewer days of digging ourselves out from under the endless stream of stuff that somehow finds its way into our home.

The 2-Minute Action Plan for Fine Parents

When you look around your home, ask yourself –

  • Are you or your family members holding onto items that you will never use again? If you can’t repurpose or reuse, can you sell, recycle or donate those items?
  • Do you find that one surface gathers the most clutter? Can you commit to avoiding that surface for a week, and see what a difference it makes?

The Ongoing Action Plan for Fine Parents

Make decluttering a family lifestyle. No parent, working or otherwise, should do all the decluttering alone.

Stress the importance of want vs. need to your children (and to yourself). Some things are sacred, but everything is not.

Make a schedule of rooms for decluttering, and stick to the plan. Combining short bursts of daily work with longer, deeper cleaning monthly, your house will become clutter-free within the span of a year.

Stop Clutter in its Tracks: How to Keep a Clutter-Free Home

6 Simple Clutter-Free Living Ideas

With our fast-paced lifestyles, clutter can accumulate quickly. From sentimental items in your closet to hand-me-downs in the garage, preventing clutter can feel overwhelming and leave you wondering where to start. But keeping a clutter-free house is as simple as asking yourself a few quick questions.

Learn how to declutter your home and keep it clutter-free with tips from Rubbermaid, The Container Store and The O.C.D. Experience.

How to Live Clutter-Free

1. Identify your bad habits.

First, take a look around your home. Where does most of your clutter accumulate? What types of items are building up? Whether it’s a “drop-zone” for keys, purses, shoes and other items as you walk in the door or boxes piling up from online shopping, make a mental note of what habits are preventing you from living clutter-free in your space.

“Identify bad habits that stop you from being organized and create solutions to these specific issues. For example, if mail piles up on your kitchen table, then try adding a recycling bin in or near your kitchen.”

Abby Lumsden | Public Relations Associate Manager, Rubbermaid

2. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”

From impulse buys at the checkout line to free swag from a fundraiser, we all grab things we don’t need from time to time. Odds are, this stuff hides inside your junk drawer until you eventually toss it. The best way to break this cycle is simple – say no.

“One of the best ways to keep stuff out of your house is to not bring it in to begin with. Before you buy another magazine, another pack of pens, another black sweater, think about if you really need it.”

Julie East | Buyer, The Container Store

3. Give everything a home.

The best way to minimize clutter in your house is to give all your things a designated location. From decorative storage baskets for magazines to utensil caddies for silverware, every item in your house should have a space.

“Give everything in your home its proper place. This will make it easy to always put things back where they belong. And the items that have no place? You probably don’t need them at all.”

Abby Lumsden | Public Relations Associate Manager, Rubbermaid

4. Store your belongings wisely.

Store daily-use items where they’re easy to get to. Things that you only use occasionally or seasonally can be placed in harder-to-reach cabinets or stored away. This will free up space and help you prioritize your most important things.

Try these clutter-free ideas from Julie East:

  • Put fine china on the highest shelf.
  • Store your holiday decorations in the attic.
  • Place skis and sporting equipment in the garage.
  • Keep everyday items in easy accessible spaces.
  • Put away the large casserole dishes and roasters you only use a few times a year.
  • Keep your paper towels on the kitchen counter, the TV remotes on side tables, and your car keys on the hook by the front door.

5. Create daily habits to prevent clutter.

After you’ve cleared the excess and organized the rest, maintenance is key. Think about the habits you identified earlier and how you can change them. Clutter tends to build up wherever we’re disorganized, so when your house is neat, it’s easier to keep clutter at bay. Try these ideas to stay ahead of the clutter in your home:

  • Make your bed every morning.
  • Keep clothing in the closet, dresser or hamper – not on the floor.
  • Clean the kitchen and do dishes after every meal.
  • Open and sort mail immediately.
  • Designate a special place for important items.
  • Place items back in their designated homes.
  • Complete projects around the house before moving on.
  • Tidy up in the evening to start each day fresh.

6. Accommodate for children and pets.

Whether you’re expecting a baby or adopting a puppy, your home will soon be filled with a whole bunch of new stuff, from diapers to dog toys. As you bring these new supplies into your home, take some time to find a space and storage solution for them.

“The primary problem people have with clutter build-up is they don’t think of their space in terms of functionality, they think of it in terms of stuff. Recognize what your space is being used for and if that is changing, start changing your space to support that.”
Justin Klosky | CEO and Founder, The O.C.D. Experience


Ready to Start Decluttering Your Life?

Now that you have these expert tips and simple lifestyle changes top of mind, you’ll be able to keep your home clutter-free.

Looking for more tips for getting rid of clutter? Read our series How to Organize Your House Room by Room to find a home for everything you own.

If you’re ready to clear out the clutter, you don’t have to start the journey on your own.

The following experts are ready and eager to walk you through the process. In addition to listing practical advice, these blogs offer encouragement, how-to guides, and overall inspiration for an orderly home and life.

Here the top 12 decluttering blogs to follow right now.

Clutter Busting with Brooks Palmer

I write about my experiences on the clutter-busting front lines by sharing inspiring stories about how my clients were able to let go of their clutter. I encourage kindness when clutter-busting.

—Brooks Palmer, Clutter Busting with Brooks Palmer @BrooksSaysHi

Becoming Minimalist

Becoming Minimalist inspires others to live more by owning less. There are life-giving benefits to owning less. And each of our lives is far too valuable to waste chasing material possessions.

—Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist @joshua_becker

The Seana Method

These days, many people are feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in their lives, and need some guidance and encouragement to make a change. I write to help readers erase the slate of self-recrimination and implement strategies that result in predictability, flexibility and joy.

—Seana Turner, The Seana Method @TheSeanaMethod

A Bowl Full of Lemons

A Bowl Full of Lemons is a lifestyle blog that helps a growing community of people who aspire to get their lives in order. We share tips on how to declutter your homes from top to bottom, teach cleaning tips and tricks, help you get on a budget, and everything in between.

—Toni Hammersley, A Bowl Full of Lemons @abowlfulloflemons (Instagram)

List Producer

I’m a TV news producer by day, and make tons and tons of lists to get stuff done and stay organized. Listproducer.com was born out of my own experiences struggling to declutter every aspect of my life. I share life hacks and shortcuts that will make your life easier, one list at a time.

—Paula Rizzo, List Producer @ListProducer

A Slob Comes Clean

At A Slob Comes Clean, I share reality-based cleaning and organizing tips, based on my reality! As I get my home under control through my own deslobification process, I tell the truth about which methods work in real life for real people who don’t necessarily love cleaning and organizing.

—Dana White, A Slob Comes Clean @ASlobComesClean

Peace of Mind Organizing

I share lessons learned from clients, and I share my enthusiasm about various organizing solutions and strategies. With this blog, I try to help people who struggle with getting organized find an easy way to feel more at ease.

—Janine Adams, Peace of Mind Organizing @janinea

Smart – Happy – Organized

We write about ways to organize, declutter and manage your home, your kids, your time and more. We like to write about new products, apps, and books to help you live smarter. We include real-life personal stories and struggles of what we as parents and adults go through on our life journeys.

—Autumn and Natalie, Smart Happy Organized @smarthaporg

Simplified Bee

As a wife, mother and interior designer, I knew homes could be orderly without sacrificing beauty. Launched in 2009, Simplified Bee is an inspiring, educational home decor blog with a focus on beautiful yet organized interiors.

—Cristin Bisbee Priest, Simplified Bee @SimplifiedBee

Life Is Organized

Getting organized doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. In fact, it can be easy and fun. Curl up with my blog and learn how to declutter your home, get more time, reach your goals and have a blast along the way.

—Mridu Parikh, Life Is Organized @LifeIsOrganized (pictured at top)

Simply Organized

The mission of the blog is to help the lives of my followers by providing simple, innovative and do-it-yourself solutions for organizing and beautifying their home, garden and children’s lives. I’m a professional organizer and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, so I also bring in the real info that digs deeper into helping people get and, more importantly, stay organized!

—Samantha, Simply Organized @simplyorganize1

ClutterBug.Me

Join me on my journey from cluttered to clean as I transform my home with easy and inexpensive organizing solutions! Each week, I share real-life tips and tricks that have helped me to keep my home clean and clutter-free, even with three little kids, two cats, a dog … and a husband!

—Cassandra Aarssen, ClutterBug.Me @Malitose

1. Set up the right environment. This is something we don’t always think about because usually when you’re doing it, you just want to get rid of stuff as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that mindset can actually make the process harder. After thirty minutes of going through things, you might find yourself with piles upon piles. And since they aren’t labeled and aren’t being sorted in any way, you get more frustrated than when you started. So, before you start, make sure you have:

– Multiple bins or containers (laundry bins, brown paper grocery bags, collapsable bins, etc.)

– Label the bins: Recycle, Shred, Donate, Trash

2. Pre-sort. This step was mind-blowing to me. Usually, when I try and get rid of stuff, I look at each piece one-by-one and decide what to do with it as I go. But if you pull out everything of its kind, lay them out together, and look at them as a whole, you can get a better grasp of the full picture. For example, if you’re sorting through jewelry, lay out all the earrings, all the necklaces, all the bracelets, etc. each in their own group. Then you might be like, “Crap! I have so many necklaces I forgot about and have never worn!” Then you can decide which to keep after seeing every necklace you own all in one place.

And same goes with piles of paper from your desk…sort all of the business cards together, all of the receipts together, all of the cards and correspondence together, bills, unopened mail vs. opened mail, and so on and so forth. Not only does a high-level pre-sort speed up the process, it also makes the choices on what to do with any given category much easier (which is super important since you have lots of decisions to make in what stays and what goes).

3. Treat each article with respect. Even if something seems like trash, treat a receipt the same as you would a piece of jewelry. Look at them both to see what value they have before tossing something simply because it’s a scrap of paper (that scrap might be an important receipt you need for your taxes).

4. Enlist a friend. Can you do this on your own? Absolutely! Will you save yourself time and major frustration if you enlist the help of a friend, family member or even a professional organizer? Umm, yes! When organizing, it’s hard to let things go because of your own sentimental attachment. By having someone there to help, you have a less attached person either telling you that you really don’t need it. Or, they’re also there to hear about why you even have that weird cat sculpture from 1992 in the first place. This not only helps release the object but it cements the memory of it which you’ll have forever.

5. Let it go! Like Elsa once said, let it go! It’s important that the items that you have decided to let go of leave the house immediately. It will be the icing on the cake and the ultimate reward for you and your space by getting the area clean and clear. It also feels really good to be helping out other folks with your donations which will add to the high of your newly organized space. This is where having a helper really pays off; you will be super tired after all the decision making so getting an extra hand (or two) to help load the car and take trash, recycling and shredding out is quite the treat. (And if you get rid of those things right away, you’re less likely to look through them later and reconsider 😉

6. Make the time for it. I say this a lot to people when they want to start their own side business or do some side project. Anything you say you’ll do in your “spare time” never happens unless you set aside time to do it. Since I work from home on Wednesdays, I made that the day that I could work on going through this stuff. Whether it’s for 2 hours or 6 hours, pick a day/time when you know you are generally free (or can be free). And stick to it. Unless you are moving, it doesn’t have to happen all overnight. It worked well for me to stick to weekly dates until we got through every room of our house. And each week, I felt so great afterwards seeing the newly decluttered and organized room.

I still have a couple areas left to do (like our kitchen), but we’re making progress! I hope these little tricks help you guys out, too!

P.S. Check out B-Neato for more decluttering tips!

{Illustrations by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

How to Declutter Your Life and Your Mind

  • The benefits of decluttering go way beyond making your home look like a Pinterest board. Studies link organized homes to less stressed, happier and healthier people.
  • Clutter in the workspace also makes it more difficult to focus on a task without feeling distracted.
  • Clutter is actually a pile of decisions that haven’t been made. If you pick something up, make a decision then and there about it, and either put it where it belongs or discard it.
  • Hiding clutter is not the same as tackling it. Instead of packing away unused objects, donate them.
  • While you’re at it, declutter your calendar too. Trying to do to much can feel just as draining as trying to have too many things

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of decluttering, consider this: the average American home has 300,000 items. Society that tells you to buy the newest products to make your teeth whiter, your laundry fresher, and your phone faster, but all these things have to go somewhere.

Those piles of clutter aren’t only in your way, they’re weighing on your mind. They represent chores to do, goals to meet, and decisions to make. They take up space in your home and your day, without moving you towards your most productive, happy life.

A change of seasons is a great time to evaluate your clutter and learn how to declutter effectively. FInd out why your stuff might be impacting your stress, plus get decluttering tips from the experts to start reclaiming your space.

Organizing boosts your health

The benefits of decluttering go way beyond making your home look like a Pinterest board. Achieving an organized, home, office, or car greatly reduces stress in your life — imagine always knowing where to find your keys! A study published in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who considered their homes more cluttered or unfinished felt more depressed and had higher levels of cortisol than women who described their homes as more restful.

Stress is kryptonite to a Bulletproof lifestyle, but it’s not the only way clutter connects to your well-being. Researchers from Indiana University compared the tidiness of participants’ homes to their physical activity and overall health. More than any other factor they compared, the healthiest and most active participants were those who kept their living spaces clean. Keeping on top of clutter also means there are fewer places for dust and mold spores to hide in your home.

In another study on clutter, people working in a clean environment were more likely to choose an apple over a chocolate bar at snack time. This is likely because clutter activates stress, which can lead you to reach for that sugar fix. In 2011, a study at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute found that having clutter in sight can make it more difficult to focus on a task without feeling distracted. Basically, the more visual stimuli your brain has to take in, the more you stress your brain and limit your processing power.

Related: 5 Hacks for Extraordinary Productivity

What is clutter (and how to get rid of it)?

Everyone has a different clutter battle: those books you haven’t opened since college, that leaning tower of papers by the computer, or the maze of abandoned motorcycle parts taking over the garage. Over time, the objects you bring into your life can start to overwhelm.

According to Helen Sanderson, declutter expert and creator of The Home Declutter Kit, “Clutter is actually a pile of decisions that haven’t been made.” The piles on your countertop are made of things ‘you’ll do tomorrow,’ or projects set aside for that elusive ‘someday.’

How to declutter 101

Why are these decisions so hard to make? Maybe you feel guilty for wasting money, or tossing objects connected to old goals (like those expensive shoes you bought when you thought you were going to start rock climbing). Maybe you get caught up in the cycle of “I might need this later,” or “this could be worth something.” Or maybe you’re just feeling overwhelmed by a pile of crap.

At the end of the day, only you can decide what objects, tasks and routines are meaningful to you, and which are just clutter. Try these five tips to inspire your productivity and mindset, and learn how to declutter your life.

“As we get clear on what we *don’t* want in our lives, we simultaneously gain clarity on what we do want. This often carries over into other areas of our lives besides our physical environments. We energetically free up space for new experiences, new relationships, new career opportunities and new goals.” – Angela Betancourt, Owner, Simplicity Coach & Professional Home Organizer

Impose the one-touch rule

Dr. Gerald Nestadt, director of the Johns Hopkins OCD clinic, recommends making decisions immediately, before clutter can take root. “If you pick something up, make a decision then and there about it, and either put it where it belongs or discard it. Don’t fall into the trap of moving things from one pile to another again and again.”

As an example, Nestadt recommends tossing junk as soon as you pick up the mail, instead of dropping everything into a pile to sort later. The same goes for your email: if a cluttered inbox is a source of stress, go through once a day to clear out any new junk.

Be proactive about decluttering

Clutter can’t happen if you don’t let it in. Think twice before bringing something new into your home/office/wardrobe/life. Angela Betancourt, the professional home organizer behind Simplify Home Organizing, recommends fighting impulse purchases by asking yourself three questions: “Where will I store this?”, “How long will I have it?” and ” How will I dispose of it?” Answering these can help you decide if a new object will really add value to your life, or become clutter.
If you crave that shopper’s high and know you’re prone to impulse buying, Sanderson suggests taking a month-long vacation from shopping. Instead of heading for the sale rack, go for a walk or meet a friend for lunch, and focus on using what you already own. Reward yourself with experiences rather than things.

You can also unsubscribe from sale emails and unfollow your favorite stores on social media: If you declutter your newsfeed, you’ll be less likely to find yourself tempted by deals on things you don’t need.

If you really want to declutter, don’t box it up

Out of sight, still in mind. Getting organized might sound like a trip to The Container Store, but hiding clutter is not the same as tackling it. In fact, pulling everything out of a shelf at once can simplify your decision-making process by letting you clearly see what you have.

Chances are, if something’s been packed away in a box, you haven’t missed it. If you haven’t used something in the last year or more, it’s in the “suspect zone,” and you’ll probably survive just fine without it. Give it a new life outside of the box by donating to a local charity or thrift store.

Interrogate your clutter

When going through clutter, dig deeper than asking if you like an object, and ask instead why it deserves to take up space in your home. People often associate objects with old accomplishments, goals, identities, or relationships, which can make it seem harder to say goodbye. Betancourt reminds her clients that they can still cherish the memories without the things they’re attached to.

Give yourself permission to recognize when an object no longer adds value to your life. Do you keep that hideous vase because it was a wedding gift? Will you wear that sweater that makes you itch? Are you really going to learn how to play that guitar? Allow yourself to be a little ruthless, but also remember that freeing yourself from clutter is a form of self-care.

How to declutter your calendar

Mental to-do lists, packed calendars, and tempting distractions make your schedule feel as chaotic as your closet. Don’t be afraid to cut out or set restrictions on activities that no longer add value to your life.

Sanderson cautions that trying to do to much can feel just as draining as trying to have too much. If nixing tasks doesn’t feel like an option, she recommends committing to finish one or two significant tasks at a time, rather than chipping away at 50 little projects.

“Think of saying ‘no’ to something as saying ‘yes’ to yourself,” says Betancourt. “We often overcommit ourselves and wind up not being fully present and enjoying activities and hobbies because we’re already mentally moving on to the next thing. Leaving breathing room in your schedule allows you to slow down and enjoy life more.”

Up Next:

Minimalism: How to Live a Richer Life With Less

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No matter how diligent you are about cleaning until you learn how to stop household clutter your home will still look messy even when it’s not. So how do you stop household clutter? First, you need to understand what clutter is, then make a plan to address it and take steps to follow your plan every day.

That’s all there is to it.

How To Stop Household Clutter

NOT my house.

What Clutter Is and Is Not

Simply put, household clutter is anything sitting where you don’t want it to remain permanently. The laundry on your stairs. The hair clip in your underwear drawer. The bowl from the popcorn you ate in front of the TV last night. You probably have places where you’d rather all these things go. In the case of the things just mentioned, that would be the dresser, bathroom drawer, and the dishwasher, respectively. From there, it’s pretty apparent that if you want to cut or reduce household clutter, you first have to decide where each thing belongs.

It’s that last bit that trips up most people. They look around their home and see so many things out-of-place that they can’t possibly imagine doing anything about it. But the solution to dealing with household clutter is much like that adage about how to eat an elephant: you do it one bite at a time.

Rather than look over an entire room (i.e., the elephant), focus on one small area. What’s bothering you the most? What will give you the most significant sense of accomplishment with the very least amount of effort?

For me, that’s my kitchen island: a big thing where my family loves to dump everything when they walk in the door. As it happens, I need to use that kitchen island every time I cook a meal, so I am continually battling its clutter. Once I’ve cleared it, I usually find myself moving on to other spots like the kitchen desk (where the things my family brought in should have gone in the first place), the coffee table, the stairs, etc.

Methodically Remove The Clutter

Start with one surface and look at everything that’s on it. Then work methodically:

1. Toss the trash. This is often the bulk of clutter on horizontal surfaces in the kitchen and family room. Get it out of the way and suddenly the elephant task doesn’t seem nearly as huge.

2. Put away things that belong nearby. Many times, the things on a surface belong in the same room, but someone was too lazy to actually put them away. On my kitchen island that usually means someone’s dirty dishes (which they never put in the dishwasher). Take care of what belongs in the same room where you’re working and your elephant… I mean, mess… will get smaller quickly.

3. Gather things that go to the same place. If several items go to another room (like the stack of comic books and sweatshirt my son left on the kitchen island this morning), take them there in one trip. This will keep you from running all over the house returning one item at a time.

4. If something doesn’t have a permanent place, maybe it doesn’t deserve one. By now, you’ll have a mostly clean surface. What’s still there? On my kitchen island, the remnants included some coupons I’d clipped a month or so ago and a brochure for an online course I’d thought about taking. We’ve gone to the store several times without using those coupons, and I don’t really want to spend my nights studying anymore. Once I acknowledged both facts, it was clear that stuff had no business staying on my counter.

5. If you absolutely must keep something, find it a permanent spot. Sometimes we get new stuff. Sometimes that stuff doesn’t have a dedicated place yet. That slick expandable folder where I’ve kept my husband’s medical bills does not belong on my counter, but I hadn’t found it a permanent spot yet. Rather than continuing to shuffle it from left to right, I took the two minutes to tuck it into the cupboard over my kitchen desk. Now it’s no longer household clutter but still easily accessible.

Spend 10 Minutes, Twice a Day

If you have time to update your Facebook and Twitter status, you have time to do something about clutter. If you aren’t using that time to do something about the disorder, then you don’t really want to. What you want to do is whine about your household clutter. It may sound snarky, but that’s the truth — I’ve had to deliver it to myself more than once.

Set a timer in the morning, and again at night. Use the time you’re waiting for the coffee pot to brew, the oven to preheat, the school bus to arrive, etc. There are plenty of chores you can do in one minute.

The real key is just to do something, and then once you’ve purged clutter from one room move on to the next. Keep at it, and eventually, you’ll have conquered that elephant… I mean, your house.

Need more structure? Then get my book, 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House, and find out why readers call it “life-changing” and “motivating.” You really can stop household clutter if you approach it with the right plan!

More help here:

• 5 Clutter Hot Spots to Tame

• Reducing Clutter: 5 Things to Do Every Day

• Ending Clutter for Good

So, you’ve decluttered your entire home and are now ready to live a more simple life with not a care in the world – sound right? I’m afraid that although you’ve done an amazing job to get this far, the hard work isn’t over just yet. Now it’s time to turn you attention to maintaining your newly clutter free home and work out how to stop clutter from returning.

The question of how to stop clutter returning is something I get asked a lot, and I want to show you today what my top methods are to help you keep your home clutter free and simplified for the long term.

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#1 Create new habits

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”

The fact is that your home probably ended up cluttered due to the way you and others lived in it over the time you have lived there.

You have a set of habits that you do without even knowing about them each and every day, and what you do in those habits is what makes your home look like it does, whether that be neat and tidy or disorganised and cluttered.

If you don’t tend to pick things up, put things back, tidy up after yourself, clean things etc… then your home over time will start to become more and more cluttered – if, however you do do these things, then your home will naturally stay more ordered and clutter free.

Now is the time to take a look at how you live in your home, and answer honestly whether your habits are helping or hindering your new clutter free lifestyle.

It’s tackling the little habits that over time have created the clutter and changing them to prevent the clutter.

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#2 Get the whole family on board

Just as you have to create new habits to stop clutter returning, so too do the rest of your family (or anyone living in your home).

The quickest way to get everyone involved is to set up a quick 10 minute tidy up at the end of each day for the family.

Set a timer and make it a race to go around the house picking things up that don’t belong in a space and returning them to where they go.

If they are reluctant to help, explain that spending 10 mins a day can prevent a huge clear up at the weekend and therefore you will have more time to spend with them on the fun stuff if they help each day. You could even do something at the weekend that they want to do and say that it’s because of the tidying up each day that you have time to do it with them – this should be reward enough!

As the family get used to the clutter free home that you have, then you should start to see that they begin to put things away as soon as they have used them, as this in itself means less tidying at the end of the day so they are helping themselves as well as you! – and on that note let’s move to number 3…

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#3 Make it easy to put things away

If you store something in an awkward place, or have to pull things out to get to them, then you are much less likely to put them back after use – and that’s where clutter can start.

If its hard to do something, you are much less likely to do it – and that goes for putting things away as well.

Instead, make it as easy as possible to put things away:-

  • Kids toys can be contained in an open top box that they can simply be thrown back into each night
  • Use a small basket for shoes that contains them in a small space but is easy to put them into
  • Store books and DVDs etc… vertically along shelves rather than stacked in piles
  • Ensure that no drawer or cupboard is stuffed so full that its hard to open without something falling out, let alone put something back in it

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#4 Don’t let things into the house

Stopping things before they come into the house is key to preventing clutter returning.

“If it doesn’t have a place in your home, it shouldn’t be there at all…”

Why not introduce bins in most rooms so that rubbish can be put in them straight away rather than hanging around, for example – have a bin by the front door for junk mail and envelopes etc….

Also, be careful about what you buy. Ask yourself when in the store where you will put the item when you get it home, and if you can’t think where it goes, or know that there is no room for it where you store other similar items, then that should be a sign that you shouldn’t buy it – as it will add clutter as soon as it comes into the front door.

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#5 – Use a one in one out policy

If you do have to get new items, or you receive presents on your birthday/Christmas, then simply use the one in one out policy to ensure nothing gets too out of control.

For example – you have fallen for a gorgeous pair of jeans in the shop. You buy them and take them home, where you go to the place you store your jeans. Take out one pair that you don’t want any longer and remove it from your home. (Take to charity if in good condition, if not take to a clothes recycling point).

If you stick to this policy then you should always have space for what you need, and your “stuff” shouldn’t take over anymore.

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#6 Protect your surfaces!

Once one piece of paper lands on your work surface, it’s all too quickly followed by another, and before you know it, there is a pile of paper clutter leaning precariously over you every time you try and make a meal. Who wants that?

Basically – any flat surface can become a magnet for clutter unless you don’t allow it to.

Having clear surfaces in the kitchen, bathroom, living spaces and bedrooms can make polishing and cleaning so much easier and quicker, and as such it would be a great idea to check all surfaces each day (the evening is usually a good time) and take away anything that’s currently landed there during the day.

Staying on top of things by regularly checking them means that you aren’t allowing the clutter to build up and you can keep it under control.

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Use any (or all!) of these tricks and you’ll soon be clutter free forever! – however I must mention maintenance here as well.

Although you don’t want clutter to return at all and you do everything to stop it, life happens and things slip through the net all too easily.

The key is to acknowledge this and deal with it – and I suggest a simple declutter session each month.

This is usually as simple as walking around the house with a couple of bags – one for rubbish, one for charity – and getting rid of anything that needs to be gone from your home. I do this and usually it takes no more than 15 minutes so it’s a quick fix but can make all the difference.

If you regularly maintain your home in this way then you won’t get back to the cluttered home you once had.

The Key to Stopping Clutter Before It Starts

Have you ever noticed how clutter just seems to creep into our lives and take over, before we even really know what is happening? We wake up one morning to find our homes stuffed to the brim with items we clearly spent money on at some point. I often joke that my kids have a superpower–that they are able to somehow generate STUFF out of nothing. Seriously–where does this stuff come from?

We keep gifts and sentimental items because we feel too guilty to part with them; even though we don’t really even like them that much. What’s worse, we often give gifts to others out of obligation, not out of true thought or emotion—filling their lives with clutter and chaos as well.

The reality is that the only way to truly break the cycle and get Unstuffed for good is to learn to say no to clutter before it even comes into our lives. Yes, it can be tough. It means letting go of the impulse to buy when those sale tactics are working their magic, telling you the item is “limited,” on sale, or an unmissable bargain.

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When we say no to clutter, we must really, truly examine how we’re going to use an item, then carefully decide if it’s worth the purchase.

There are a few solutions to avoid this endless cycle of accumulation. First and foremost, we have to reset some of our bad habits and turn them into good ones. This involves planning and setting limits. It might even include jump-starting your positive change by trying a month of zero spending—it’s a great way to examine your habits and get yourself back on track.

But beyond that, there are a few other tactics we can put into practice–both before we even set foot in the store and once we get there–that can help us stop clutter before it starts.

Want more de-cluttering tips? Our simple but effective Clutter Free Cheat Sheet will help you eliminate clutter once and for all. It’s free, but only for a limited time! Get it here.

5 Before-You-Buy Tips

Tip #1: When you run out of an item or a need arises, first examine whether it’s something you truly need. Is there something on hand you can stretch or modify to fill the need without making a purchase?

Tip #2: Sometimes we buy new things because we can’t find items we already have on hand. Thank you, clutter and chaos! Get organized and be sure you can first find what you have on hand when you need it.

Tip #3: If you ARE organized and a need arises, go in with a plan of attack. Write it down and make a list before you get to the store. Traditionally, grocery lists are just that: a grocery list we take to the grocery store. But a grocery list is more than that. Writing down our needs before we purchase gives us a chance to pause and reflect on each item, and why really we need it. If you don’t even want to take the time to write down the item, then should you really be purchasing it in the first place?

Tip #4: If your list doesn’t keep you from straying, try bringing only a set amount of cash to the store. Don’t even take your debit or credit card. Walk-in knowing you can only spend what you have in your pocket.

Tip #5: When all else fails, you may need to take a break from stores for a while. (I’m not kidding!) You know what you can handle and what stores trigger your itch to spend… ahem Target (we love you though). Instead of putting yourself in a position to fail, put yourself in a position to succeed. It’s not about price, either. If you can’t go into Target or Goodwill without bringing something home, or if you have to stop at every garage sale—give yourself a break until you can take back control.

The Moment of Truth: A Trip to the Store

When you’re out shopping, stick to your plan. It’s challenging, I know! Retailers work very hard to suck you in. They create a feeling of scarcity and urgency with sales “ending today,” limited-time offers, and “deals” like buy-one-get-one-free. Stay steadfast and stick to your list. You can do it!

I love a good deal just as much as the next gal (probably more so). When you’re trying to save, couponing, combining offers, and all those BOGOs can be really appealing and hard to avoid.

In the past, I’d leave the store with a whole carload of stuff I didn’t need, patting myself on the back for how little I spent. Then, I’d arrive home and realize I had nowhere to put any of it. Truth be told, I had “saved” money on stuff I didn’t need. Is that really saving money?

In truth: we are all buying things we don’t need. If you don’t have room to store it, if you don’t need it right now, or if it’s adding to the clutter and chaos of your life, is it really serving you?

Want more de-cluttering tips? Our simple but effective Clutter Free Cheat Sheet will help you eliminate clutter once and for all. It’s free, but only for a limited time! Get it here.

The Solution: Avoiding Impulses & Setting Limits

It is SO challenging to say no to a good deal. Always give yourself some time to think it over. Implement a strict 24-hour impulse policy. If you’re worried you’ll miss out, I can promise you, there’s almost nothing in life you NEED on an impulse that you’ll also be devastated about when it’s gone 24 hours later. Honestly? It’ll probably still be there, but you might find going back to the store for just one “deal” isn’t worth it. Most of the time, you’ll change your mind about the item before you even reach your driveway. Avoid the impulse buy!

Impose some strict limits on yourself as well. For example, when I purchased beautiful hangers to clean my closet, I decided I was only willing to pay for 40 of them. This forced me to limit my closet to 40 pieces. While maybe that sounds extreme, I can tell you, I love everything in my closet now. I don’t have room for anything I feel ambivalent toward or anything that doesn’t make me feel my best. When I purchase an item of clothing, I’m very selective because I know if something comes in, something must also go out.

You can set these limits with everything: socks, makeup, toys, even pantry items. Keep in mind, anything you end up throwing out because you haven’t used in six months to a year, you probably shouldn’t have purchased in the first place. If you know you can only use up one eyeliner or tube of mascara in a six-month period and the shelf life of mascara is six months, then why have multiples?

I’ve taught my girls this same principle and it’s really changed trips to the store. We all think about buying stuff differently than we used to. If you only have room on the shelf for a few toys or books, then you might find you’re much more selective about swapping them out. Now my daughters make careful choices, knowing if one item comes in, it means another item goes out.

Choose Quality (Usually Over Quantity)

Over the years, we’ve surrounded ourselves with cheaper items, which offer less longevity and durability. We see things as disposable and of little value. We have to continuously repurchase items because they literally “don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Items can now be imported cheaply from overseas. For example, the quality of clothing has steadily declined along with prices. Why pay $100 for a quality shirt that will last a year, when you could buy ten $10 shirts that will last a month each?

In reality, we’re only creating more waste and more clutter—and all the while we’re not even saving as much money as we think we are. All these low-quality cheap items just add to all that “stuff” in our lives.

Instead, investing in quality items over cheap fixes will give us a much greater return in the long run. Not only are you creating less need and less waste, but you’re also saving money and really, truly being mindful about each of your purchases.

Before you buy, ask yourself if the item will enrich your life over the next year, next five years or next ten years. This can seem a little silly when we’re talking about say, cereal or nail polish, but how many times have we thrown out a half-eaten box of cereal or a half bottle of polish because it’s dried up or we just don’t like it?

Instead, consider the life of the product: will you use the product in its entirety? Is it worth the purchase price? Are the value and quality worth the cost? Is this a quality item?

Uncluttering our lives can be a challenge, but we can all take the first steps to stop the flow of clutter before it becomes even more of a problem. Make wise purchases. Really think about the things you bring into your life before you seal the deal and bring home more STUFF.