Learning to Let Go: De-cluttering Made A Breeze


Source: The Shelving Shop

Are your closets, cabinets, and floors bursting with clutter?

The truth is, many people have a hard time giving away objects they no longer need. This can accumulate over time and turn into an overwhelming hoard which can make living spaces very difficult to live in.

More accurately explained, the necessity of storage is to be able to keep occasion-specific items out of sight until they are needed. There are items used on a regular basis that need to be located at any given time, yet they still have a designated space.

Now, no one likes spending an unreasonable amount of time trying to find something. In fact, frantic searches can uproot once organized items and ultimately cause the misplacement of other objects in the process! These messes can appear sporadically in the most inconvenient places.

Simply put, clutter is any object that does not have a place to go.

Psychology has proven that an excess of possessions placed haphazardly can cause unnecessary stress; invoking thoughts of feeling out of control over all areas of life; not just the home or workplace.

Here are some tips hand-picked from some of the best organizers, to purge the superfluous and organize the necessary.

Baby Steps

A great way to do this is to take one item at a time, and if you struggle to make a decision, ask these questions:

  1. Would you buy it in a store if you were seeing it for the first time?
  2. Is it worth what you paid for it / have you gotten your money’s worth out of it?
  3. Have you worn/used it in the last year?
  4. Does it improve your quality of life, safety, or security?
  5. Does it have sentimental value?
  6. If the answer to #5 is yes, is it a family heirloom? A lock of your baby’s hair? Something too precious and irreplaceable to throw away?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, chances are, it needs to go.

Source: Pixabay

Another important question is: “Am I keeping this out of obligation or expectation?” So often we keep unwanted gifts that have been given to us out of respect for the giver. If it is not an irreplaceable item (refer to questions 5 & 6) or they have no intention of asking for it back, it is yours to do with – to re-gift, to re-purpose, or even throw away.  Do not keep anything out of guilt!

Create 3 boxes or bags: one for keep, one to throw away, and one for storage. If something is broken or damaged there is no point trying to sell it. Be honest with yourself and confront everything with the above questions if there is any internal wrestling. If you tend to be an overly-sentimental person, experts recommend having a family member or friend help you through this process. They can walk you through these questions when you may find them difficult to answer.


If you go an entire year without wearing something, the likelihood of it being worn ever again is substantially low. One way to tell if it has been a year is to first take all clothes in the closet at the beginning of a New Year and hang them up backwards; with the hooks facing the outside. Each time something is worn, return it to the closet the way you normally would; with the hook facing the back of the closet. At Christmas, see which hangers are still backwards. Those will indicate the clothes that are no longer used!

Misc Items:

Purge your coffee table and bookshelves of old magazines. Throw away receipts that are past the tax year or that you will not need. Examine which books you will probably not reread and give those away as well. Some used bookstores will even let you sell back books! Get rid of duplicates; and when applicable, merge duplicates (i.e. two half-empty bags of flour). For bulky and unused electronics, sell them on Gazelle.com or Nextworth.com.

Something that always seems to accumulate everywhere are loose papers. For papers that are consistently pulled out of the filing cabinet and need to be in plain site for the time being, purchase a file box (often used to store books) and store all your go-to papers.  

Remember that places like the pantry and refrigerator should be gone through roughly once a season to ensure nothing is outdated or expired.

Have no idea where to start? Try starting with one drawer at a time. Commit to cleaning and downsizing a drawer a day until you feel comfortable taking on more.

For more tips, visit these helpful links!

How To Declutter a Basement
How I Purged 91% of Our Stuff
The Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Decluttering Your Home