In a society of more, more, more — our lives can become overwhelmed by clutter so quickly. Cluttered spaces can cause us stress, depression, and anxiety. After someone asked a popular forum what tips they had to help declutter our lives. Here are their most helpful suggestions.
1. Stop Trying to Save Items for Special Occasions
One of the biggest clutters in our lives is the things we keep because we’re saving them for a particular day. Things like fine china serving dishes, the dress too formal for everyday wear, etc. We hold onto them but never use them for fear of them breaking or getting destroyed.
One user sums it up, “Enjoy your stuff now and don’t waste time and money thinking you need to save it for the perfect occasion. You’ll forget it even exists as it adds to more clutter.”
2. If You Can Replace It in 20 Minutes for Under $20, Toss It Out
One user plays off Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus’ 20/20 rule. If you’re not using it and can replace it for $20 or less, toss it. They say they follow this rule but add, “I allow myself a time frame. I may only use things like kitchen gadgets sometimes, but I still use them. I keep those. But things like a gifted perfume, if I haven’t even tried it in six months, it’s gone.”
3. Clean Out Your Closet
Closets are frequently a clutter-filled mess for some people. With shoes we never wear and clothes that either don’t fit or are unflattering, we choose not to wear them.
One user proposes, “When you get to that point where you’re like, I have to do laundry, I have nothing to wear? When you hit that point, go to your closet & dressers and pull out everything in there, I guarantee there’s something in there. Every piece must come out. Now is a good time to declutter your drawers.”
4. Join Community Pages and Groups
Often we keep an item because it’s too nice to throw away or was a gift, etc. But when we don’t use the item, it clutters our life. One user suggests donating by using local community groups. They say, “Getting involved in my community helped me declutter. Especially if you are making friends and connecting with people from different income levels.”
“It challenges you to get rid of things that you otherwise would keep because you like them, but when you know someone needs a thing you have, it’s much easier to let it go.”
5. Use the “Would I Pack It Rule”
One user explains, “I made up the Hawaii rule for decluttering. I have a dream of moving to Hawaii: if the item isn’t likely to make it into a moving container, it can find its next home.”
We may not all have a Hawaii rule, but we can still ask ourselves, would I pack this item if I were moving? If the answer is yes, keep it. If maybe, save it, but go back to it in the future. If the answer is no, then get rid of it.
6. Stop Feeling Guilty
Stop feeling guilty about creating a more relaxing space for yourself. For example, a bag of clothes going to Goodwill, sitting in the trunk of your car for months, has happened to so many of us it is now a well-known joke. But we don’t want to throw it away; it seems wasteful, and we may feel guilty for not giving it to someone who may need it.
So we let the bag continue to clutter up our life. One user advises, “Don’t feel guilty about binging some things. Maybe a charity could use it if you have the time and means to get it there. If not, and it can’t go in the recycling bin, put it in the regular waste bin, and don’t feel guilty.”
7. Stop Saving Items for Your Fantasy Self
Whether we keep things to fix up and resell or keep empty containers or jars for do-it-yourself projects, these things can sit and collect dust for years while we procrastinate the projects we intended them for.
My fantasy self resells vintage items, but my actual self works full time and doesn’t have the energy to put into it.” one user confesses, “It was making me feel bad to have bags full of stuff just sitting in the closet that was a constant little voice subconsciously berating me for being lazy and not taking pictures, measurements, listings, etc. So I listed everything on my local Buy Nothing group.”
8. Tackle a Little at a Time
Sometimes tackling a big mess can be overwhelming, resulting in nothing getting done. Need to clean out the garage? Try instead to break the space into sections. This day can be boxes; next time will be tool shelves, etc.
“I tried this, and it became an everyday practice.” says one user. “When I have little time or energy, I tackle one or two minor things, like ensuring no trash and dishes are lying around. Put stuff in recycle bin, dishwasher, or laundry basket, as I go along throughout the day.”
9. Declutter Over Time
Try having a few declutter bins in a closet or garage. These could be donation bins, recycling electronics bins, etc. Have them easily accessible; this way, you can throw them in the bin immediately when you encounter an item you don’t want or use. Then when the bin is full, dispose of it accordingly.
One user adds, “This allows me to declutter over time without dedicating much energy. Knowing the bags are always in the closet also keeps me aware to notice items that potentially belong in one of the bags.”
10. Take It All Out and Only Add Back What You Want
Instead of cleaning out a closet or cupboard, try taking everything out. Then when you start organizing things to go back in, you can leave out things you don’t want anymore. One user adds, “Looking at the empty space feels like a blank canvas and fresh start to me.”
11. Would You Buy It Again
When cleaning and coming across clutter or items you haven’t used in a long time that you keep dusting, ask yourself, “If this breaks or gets lost, would I rebuy it?” If the answer is no, it’s simple, toss it. One user admits, “I just took out five bags of clothes from my closet and dresser by doing this. Once you start, it’s easier and easier to toss it.”
12. Don’t Wait, Do It in the Moment
We often plan a day to “deep” clean and declutter. These days may be needed but can be less overwhelming when there is less to go through. One user suggests, “Don’t wait for the day of decluttering. Planning that day is okay, but don’t wait for it. If you see something broken or ugly, get rid of it that moment.”
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