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9 Smart Ways to Declutter Your Home

Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

What better way to begin the year than clearing out all of the unnecessary stuff cluttering your life and home? Face it, most of us have a tendency to hang on to items we no longer need, whether it be clothes, books or random tchotchkes. There’s absolutely no reason to be mentally and physically weighed down by non-essentials.

Getting rid of personal possessions can be a traumatic experience. If you’re having a tough time deciding what to keep and what to toss, we’ve put together some suggestions to help make the process easier and less painful.

1. The possessions you keep should have actual value.

That doesn’t mean each and everything you own will have monetary value. It can also refer to cherished keepsakes or practical items. Here’s a clever way to determine intrinsic value. Imagine you’re preparing to evacuate in advance of a major hurricane. What things would you take with you? The answer to that single question will indicate an object’s true worth.

This is the type of valued possessions to keep.

This is the type of valued possessions to keep.

2. Start by filling up one trash bag.

One of the most satisfying ways to make a dent in household clutter is to donate unwanted items to a local charitable organization. It will make it much easier to part with things each time you donate. Take a large trash bag and plop it in the middle of your closet and fill it full.

Filling up one trash bag at a time makes you feel like you've accomplished a small part of  decluttering.

Filling up one trash bag at a time makes you feel like you've accomplished a small part of decluttering.

3. Purge Your Closet a Little Every Day.

Every morning for one week as you are getting dressed for the day, go through your closet and pull out one or two pieces you haven’t worn in the last few seasons. Chances are if you forgot you had it, you probably won’t wear it again.

Every day take a look in the closet and get rid of a clothing item you never wear.

Every day take a look in the closet and get rid of a clothing item you never wear.

4. Sort items by category.

This organization technique is known as the four-box method. Pick a room and bring in four boxes, bins or containers of your choice. Label them as trash, give, keep and store. Go through the room and put each item into one of the containers. Then you’ll know exactly what to do once you’ve categorized everything in the room.

Sort your household good into four containers: trash, give, keep and store.

Sort your household good into four containers: trash, give, keep and store.

5. Finish each room before moving to the next.

Now that you’ve donated, stored and trashed the things you don’t need, it’s time to organize the keepers. Now’s the time to install a closet or pantry organization system to make things neat and orderly with the help of an assortment of storage baskets, shelves, carts, bins and totes. Once you’re satisfied with results you can move on to the next room.

An organized pantry is an organized life.

An organized pantry is an organized life.

6. Take your time and do it right.

Clearing out clutter may seem like a quick project but it might take a lot longer than you think. Consider the emotions involved in parting with your possessions. Plan on taking extra time for this task.

Here’s some sage advice: If you start getting wigged out, simply walk away for a while to clear your mind. Keep each work session down to an hour to avoid feeling overwhelmed. If you estimate it will take a couple of days to sort through a room give yourself double the amount of time so you don’t get discouraged.

Take your time and consider your emotions when deciding which items to keep or give away.

Take your time and consider your emotions when deciding which items to keep or give away.

7. Don’t try to tackle the task alone.

No one says you have to tackle this all by your lonesome. Get the family involved. It may not speed up the process but at least you’ll have moral support. Believe it or not, your better half may even have some input on how to organize the garage and basement.

While it’s probably much easier to declutter without the kids around it is important to get them involved. Your little ones wouldn’t be too happy if you went through their belongings and discarded things without consulting them first. It will also help develop their decision-making process and organizational skills.

It's always good to have someone help with the cleaning and decluttering.

It's always good to have someone help with the cleaning and decluttering.

8. Reinforce positive habits.

Don’t let clutter get the best of you. Try to constantly reinforce positive behavior. By adopting good habits your house will always look orderly and you’ll prevent items from accumulating.

This may seem overly obsessive but it works like a charm. Find a spot for each and every item you own. For instance, institute a routine to follow each time you return home. Install a wall hook by the door for your keys. Always place your purse or briefcase on a table next to the wall hook. Hang your jacket on a coat rack positioned conveniently near the door. You get the idea—create positive organizational habits to help keep the clutter at bay.

Wall hooks are an easy way to keep each family member's stuff in its place.

Wall hooks are an easy way to keep each family member's stuff in its place.

9. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

How many people do you know that have impeccably organized closets, drawers and cabinets? That’s an impossible standard created by images on TV, in catalogs and magazines.

Don’t expect your home to look like it’s been styled for a magazine shoot. Perfection is a fine goal but it's one that’s difficult to achieve and maintain. Remember we’re mere humans that sometimes get messy and forget where things go. If it looks great to you and suits your needs then you’ve been successful in your efforts.

Once you've decluttered and organized, your house doesn't have to be picture perfect.

Once you've decluttered and organized, your house doesn't have to be picture perfect.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on December 25, 2018:

Lix Westwood, so glad you enjoyed this article. It's always good to clear things out and keep everything organized.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 24, 2018:

I have taken on board a lot of what you say. Now I just need to put it into practise. I appreciate the very practical suggestion in your article.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on December 24, 2018:

Thank you, Emmy. Clearing out clutter is a good way to begin the new year.

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on December 24, 2018:

Interesting article, as usual, Linda. Thank you for the tips.