How To Declutter Your Home


Decluttering makes me giddy.

I swear I extract more energy from an hour of running around tidying up than I do from an espresso on an empty stomach. There’s almost nothing as satisfying to me as a freshly made bed, clear surfaces and a tidy closet. It’s as if I can’t think straight until my physical environment is as it should be: void of clutter.

Last week, as I sat hour after hour in front of a blank screen and blinking cursor without producing anything at all worth sharing, I decided to push back from my desk and declutter instead.

Here’s how it went down and how I generally approach the process.

Step 1: The 10-Minute, Full-House Sweep

I begin decluttering by pretending that guests are coming in 15 minutes and that I just got home. I look around and think what needs to quickly be done for my apartment to be presentable?

For me, it’s usually washing up any dishes in the sink and putting the living room back in order – throw pillows fluffed, blanket folded and draped over the chair, plates, cups or whatever moved to the kitchen. In the bedroom, it means picking any clothes off the floor and making the bed. And in the rest of the space, a quick sweep of any Jacko-hair tumbleweeds does the trick. With the amount of shedding he does, he’s lucky he’s so cute.

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This step gets me back to homeostasis so that I can really begin my work.

Step 2: Start the Laundry

It’s nice to end a full-house decluttering with freshly folded laundry put back in it’s place, so I always throw a load in as I get started.

Step 3: Tackle One Spot at a Time Thoroughly

I usually begin with smaller spaces, like my drawer in the bathroom. I get rid of anything that is clearly garbage and then ask the harder question of “do I really need or use this thing?” for everything else. Even in our intentionally minimalist home, I still manage to find things that I don’t really need, like or use lurking about.

I’ll work my way through the entire apartment in this manner. Going through each cupboard or drawer or closet, relatively quickly, looking at each thing and asking “When’s the last time I used this?”

This round’s sweep of the kitchen ended with the purging of a metal shot-measuring thing. I always wonder who actually uses those. When’s the last time you measured the whiskey in a Jack & Coke? Or the tequila in a Margarita? Joel and I tend to drink beer and wine anyway. We rarely have a mixed drink. And the last time either of us took a shot was well over a year ago. I remember clearly because I cried and Joel puked so… yeah, we’re adults now. We don’t take shots.

Yet still, that little metal booze-measuring thing managed to fly under my radar all this time. I packed it up and moved it with us from place to place I don’t know how many times. I finally put it in the purge box last week.

Next up was a food scale. Honestly, I have never weighed one single item of food in my life. When Joel got home and I asked him about it he said “But, that’s our food scale?!” I responded “Yes. I know what it is, but please tell me one instance in your entire life when you’ve used this thing. Do you even know where it came from? Do you remember saying ‘Oh we need a food scale, I should go buy one’?” He stared at me blankly. It, too, is now in the purge box.

And on this step goes, until I either run out of energy or finish going through all of our stuff. And just like watching the Bonsai enthusiasts find more and more to trim from those little trees, I’m always amazed by the amount of stuff I manage to get rid of.

Step Four: Figure Out What To Do With The Stuff You’re Purging

This is the step where I set aside the things I want to sell, trash or donate.

I bought a pair of knee high boots while we were on our trip. I’d been looking to replace the pair I wore out a couple of years ago but, could never find the exact right ones. And then there they were one day, on the Internet and cost only $100 (full price was $300!). So I bought them thinking they were perfect for my fall wardrobe and our return to society. But now, almost three months later, and well into winter wardrobe season, I still have not worn them. This tells me that either my style has evolved away from knee-high boots or that I just don’t like that particular pair for some reason. Doesn’t matter either way. They’re sitting there not being used. So I’ll sell them this week on eBay and use that money for something else.

What I don’t plan to sell will either be gifted or dropped off at Goodwill. And anything not in the condition to be gifted or donated will be trashed or cut up into rags.

Step Five: Fold The Laundry and Put It Away

I don’t know about you but, I love doing laundry. We lived for so long without in-unit laundry in New York that pulling freshly tumbled towels out of the dryer still feels like a luxury. Sometimes I even pull them up to my face like a fabric softener commercial.

And that’s it. That’s my process. Simple but, it never seems to fail me. What about you? Any tips on decluttering your home? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Oh and if you’d like to get started simplifying today, join the 7-Day Simplify Challenge!


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