Taking The Fear Out Of Decluttering

Decluttering order from chaos

You want to get rid of all your junk. You want to get rid of all your excess things that you do not need. You want to declutter and to be organized! That is a goal a lot of people have, but where do you start? It is such a big task.

Start With A Plan

Before you start tearing apart your home, start with a plan. You must stick to it and go step-by-step in order to not create more chaos. This is of the highest priority. 

When I am decluttering, I always work with three piles: keep, donate, throw away.

As we try not to throw away anything that may still be of use to someone, the donate pile is typically the biggest. I work on only one room at a time and in that room, one item at a time.

  • Room
  • Drawers
  • Closet
  • Counters
  • Walls
  • Repeat

Teaching Kids About Decluttering


While I find that I can maintain my spaces with this technique, my kid’s spaces were another story. I wouldn’t expect them to use the three pile method. 

I recommend going into their rooms every few weeks and simply place a brown paper bag. Their task is to fill it with donations. By doing this on a regular basis, they actually get in the habit of “junking” things that were no longer of use for them.

Also by tasking children with donating their old toys to other kids, they learned a sense of responsibility and generosity. File that under creative parenting!

How To Clean A Drawer or A Closet

If you are going to clean a drawer, open a drawer and empty it. All of it.

You need to put all of the contents of the drawer on the floor or on the countertop and go through it. Once again, make three piles: one for things to keep in the drawer, one for things to donate and one is for trash.

If an item does not fit in any of those three categories it should not be in the drawer. It needs to be put away properly.

a photo of decluttering a closet

Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash

If you are working on a closet or cabinet, the same steps apply. Be sure you are emptying everything out first. 

Make a habit of donating regularly

We really should all be donating whatever we can to charities and helping others, especially if we are done using things and we do not need them.

Somebody else might just be looking for something that is dormant in your cabinets – you just never know! It could be a toy from a Happy Meal, or it could be an old camera that a budding photographer may be interested in. Who knows? If you do not need it, somebody else might.

You have separated your items, now what?

a photo of decluttering kitchen drawer

Photo by Jarek Ceborski on Unsplash

So, if you empty your drawer and make your three piles. The trash pile is easy. Then make a trip to a donation center for the donate pile. What’s left? You can see clearly what you have now. Who knows you might not need anything!

Before replacing the items you are keeping, be sure to take a moment to deep clean the space. If it is drawer, wipe it down thoroughly. If it is a closet, vacuum it out. You get the picture. 

I love to open it drawer and see just a few things inside of it. I do not know who does not.

Learning to be honest with yourself

Probably the hardest part of decluttering is being honest with yourself. Do you really need these items?

When was the last time you used this or that? When will you use it again? Is it outdated or in disrepair?

Do you have neighbors who refuse to get rid of anything? Perhaps they have a three-car garage filled with bins and crates of junk. Things they will never use again but refuse to get rid of for whatever reason.

That’s fine, I guess, but they probably also have at least two cars that won’t fit in the garage. There is just too much junk! Does it make sense to leave cars on the street while they house a ridiculous amount of useless “stuff.” 

Are these neighbors you?

Be honest with yourself: are you doing the same? The takeaway from that is why leave thousands of dollars in vehicles on the street just so you have a place to store a few hundred dollars of junk?

It feels good to be uncluttered

While I use this platform to push the narrative of minimalism, it is worth nothing that some people like the feeling of being around clutter. I’m quite sure those people are not reading this blog.

When I design a model home, I will often just walk through the model on a weekend and listen to feedback from people. People will always comment on how good the houses felt. I do think that is largely because it is uncluttered.

People can see themselves sitting in a room that is clear of junk.

What is your decluttering goal?

I encourage you to plan every other week, (at the very least once a month), to grab some brown paper bags and fill them up.

Perhaps you have an annual goal you are going to clear out your house. That’s great! Just take it one drawer or closet at a time. If you’re really attached to your things, it may take a full year and that’s OK! You are still going to get it done. Rome was not built today.

an image of a goal

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Decluttering can be exhausting, yes. Truly there is nothing that feels better than sitting down after a long day at work and coming home to a clean and uncluttered house. It feels amazing!

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Ellen Phillips

Living a Beautiful Life

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