Do you want to reduce stress? Are you tired of wasting time and money trying to find things you need? Do you want to know how to declutter your life so you can simplify and organize your home and your mind?
I admit, I’m a minimalist at heart. I hate clutter. I’ve been known to throw away my children’s projects as they walk through the front door. However occasionally life gets away from me and the clutter starts to pile up. I typically go into purge mode and attempt to declutter my life in a weekend.
For some people it can be difficult to get rid of items, even if they don’t need them anymore. Here are some basic guidelines I like to use when deciding whether to keep, donate, or toss.
- Is it broken? YES. Will I fix it in the next week? NO = TOSS
- Do I love it? NO. Do I need it? NO = Donate
- Have I used it in the last 3 months? NO = Donate (exception is seasonal items)
- Does it fit? NO = Donate
- Do I even remember what this is or what it does? NO = Donate/ Toss
119 things to declutter from your home, mind, and devices
Not only are our homes filled with things we probably don’t need, we tend to clutter our virtual space too. Our computers, phones, and even our minds are filled with distractions. I’m going to share with you the tips and tricks I use to live a life with less clutter.
When my children were younger I would ask them to pick up their rooms. Often their rooms were so messy they were overwhelmed getting started. Using these techniques will help make it manageable for the kids and teach them how to declutter when they get older and have their own spaces.
Organize Room by Room
After moving 19 times in 27 years I can tell you that if you have a system in place, getting rid of the clutter in the home is much easier. Personally I like to declutter room by room, section by section.
For example, if I’m starting in the kitchen I start with the fridge or the pantry. Then I move to the drawers and finally the cabinets. Not only do I throw (or give) away the things I don’t need I take a few extra minutes to clean the space too. Cleaning and decluttering will make it seem like you have a brand new space.
Use Bins to Stay Organized and Avoid Overwhelm
When cleaning and decluttering I recommend having three large, clean bins available. The first bin is keep (but keep somewhere else) the second bin is toss, the third bin is donate. If you know that the donate bin is going to sit in your garage for two years use two bins. One to keep one to toss.
Most people only use two bins (donate and toss) but every time I clean out a room I find numerous items in that room that belong somewhere else in the home. By having a keep bin it allows you to gather up the misplaced items quickly and put them where they belong at the end of the day.
The kitchen can be a haven for clutter. Since everyone in the house uses the kitchen it’s easy for it to quickly get messy and full of items you don’t need. It’s also the place where it’s easy to hoard items you think you might need. Appliances, utensils, even food!
I recommend decluttering your fridge at least once a month and your pantry every other month. For the rest of the kitchen I recommend going through your cabinets and drawers two times a year.
- Expired food
- Containers with missing lids
- Broken utensils
- Cookbooks (keep the sentimental ones, but doesn’t everyone get their recipes on the internet these days?)
- Combine 1/2 filled containers or food or spices. (My kids always open a ketchup before finishing the last one!!)
- Condiments and packets from restaurants (are you really going to use them)
- Expired coupons, flyers, old mail
- Cleaning supplies you don’t use anymore
- Old sponges or rags that are past their prime
- Duplicate measuring spoons, dishes, mugs
- Novelty containers (the ones you got at a theme park that are collecting dust in the back of the pantry
- Dishes or cups you haven’t used in over a year
- Gadgets that are still in the box after 3 years
- Old lunch boxes, thermoses, leaky cooler packs
- Grocery bags, paper bags
Family Room Declutter
Thankfully my family room stays pretty clean. I do have to check under the couch cushions and couches occasionally for stray goldfish and batteries.
Typically if you clean out and organize your living spaces once a year it’s not hard to maintain it the rest of the time.
- Old magazines
- DVD’s, Videos, Video Games
- The VCR that hasn’t worked since 2010
- Decor you don’t love
- Broken toys
- Dead batteries
- Dead plants
- Stained or hole-y blankets or throw pillows
- Used candles
The bathroom is another trouble spot for many people. I just cleaned out a drawer in my bathroom that I hadn’t opened in 10 months! Needless to say everything in the drawer was thrown away.
I plan on going through my bathroom drawers every three months or so to keep them clean and organized. It’s an easy project you can complete on a Sunday afternoon on a rainy day.
To keep the bathroom organized I like using clear plastic bins to keep all the small cosmetics organized in my drawers.
- Old towels (stained, torn, frayed)
- Empty bottles (lotion, sunscreen, bug spray)
- Old makeup (why is this so hard to throw away)
- Expired medication
- Empty (or hardened) nail polish
- Products that don’t work for you
- Old toothbrushes
- Hair accessories (remember that banana clip from the 6th grade)
- Old razors
- Trial size items you will never use
- Random decor and clutter
This is one thing I do not miss about my kids growing up. Their rooms are messy now, but when they were little it was atrocious! It didn’t help that I typically had two to three kids sharing a bedroom and we had limited storage space.
I love IKEA for inexpensive storage options for kid’s rooms and when my kids were little I organized everything in bins. I even had bins for their underwear, pajamas, and shorts. It was so much easier than trying to keep things folded in drawers.
To help kid’s keep their rooms organized I love the idea of taping a picture of the toys on the outside of the bin (if they aren’t old enough to read) or writing the name of the items on the bin. I still have white plastic bins from the Dollar Store that say “pajamas” on them from when my kids were little.
If the kids are helping you declutter their rooms I highly recommend going section by section. I can remember one time when my then husband took everything in their room and dumped it in the middle of the floor. My kids were totally overwhelmed. It ended up being a complete disaster and both kids were in tears at the end of the day.
It’s so much easier for them to stay motivated if you tackle a section at a time. I recommend starting with the bed/ under the bed because it’s a quick win and typically it’s just dirty clothes and garbage under the bed. 🙂
I then tackle the dressers, bins, and save the closet for last.
- Garbage (why do children have such a hard time throwing ANYTHING away)
- Dishes, food wrappers, cans, bottles (don’t act like your kid’s don’t bring food into their rooms)
- Stuffed animals (Let them pick 3-5 of their favorites, pack the rest away for 6 months. If they don’t ask for them after 6 months it’s time to donate.)
- Broken toys
- Toys they don’t play with anymore
- Old bedding (stained, ripped, smelly)
- Shoes that don’t fit or are worn out
- Out of season clothing (put in a bin at the top of the closet
- Stained, ripped, damaged clothing
- Clothes that don’t fit
- Games (check to make sure all the pieces are there, if not – toss)
- Puzzles (same as games)
- Old school supplies, papers, books
- Craft supplies (throw away scraps, broken crayons, markers that don’t work)
Master Bedroom Makeover
For many years my master bedroom was a storage zone for anything that didn’t have a place. I hated that! In fact I didn’t like spending any time in my room at all. It was always messy and cluttered. A few months ago I decided to makeover my master.
I’m not finished yet, but the first thing I did was completely declutter the room! I can’t believe how just getting rid of random things in the room (Christmas wrapping paper, bins of kid’s costumes, fitness equipment I didn’t use in the room, etc) made such a huge difference.
The next step was to declutter all the surfaces (dressers and nightstands). For some reason all the spare change and receipts get placed on the dresser. I put all the change in a small cup and threw away most of the receipts.
Finally I went through my drawers and got rid of clothes I don’t wear or don’t like anymore. My room is becoming my favorite place in the house thanks to some simple decluttering!
- Get rid of any decor you don’t absolutely love
- Jewelry (If you don’t wear it and it’s not valuable, toss or donate it. Also toss broken costume jewelry.)
- Bras and underwear (Ladies we need to do this more often than you think, get rid of bras that don’t fit, underwear with holes, and anything else you don’t wear at least once a month.)
- Stained, torn, outdated clothing
- Clothes you don’t wear (If you aren’t sure about getting rid of clothes pack up what you don’t think you wear and put it at the top of your closet for a few months. If you don’t miss it, donate it)
- Clothes that don’t fit (If you lose weight you are going to want new clothes anyway)
- Shoes (Get rid of all the shoes that are uncomfortable or that you never wear)
- Bags (If you don’t love it and use it, donate it)
- Junk drawer (go through it, toss most of it)
Hall Closet/ Storage Declutter
Cleaning out the hall closet is an easy evening project. Typically hall closets are for storage, bags, and outerwear. You should be able to quickly go through this space and determine what you can keep, toss, or donate.
- Almost empty wrapping paper rolls (Are you planning on wrapping a candy bar, no? Toss them!)
- Broken umbrellas
- Wire hangers
- Whatever the kids threw in there to keep from cleaning up
- Any outwear you don’t wear anymore or doesn’t fit
- Decor that you don’t use anymore
- Old Christmas cards (especially ones without a photo)
Garage Clean Out
The garage is my biggest trouble spot. Having a large family the bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and athletic gear alone is overwhelming. Not to mention most of my kids like to fix, build, and explore using tools in the garage and don’t always put them away.
The easiest way to clean the garage is to remove everything from the garage and actually clean out the garage first. I typically use large black garbage bags to collect all the trash and broken toys while emptying the garage.
If you are using your garage to store seasonal items (baby gear, Christmas decor, clothing) I recommend installing shelving either along one of the walls or from the ceiling. You can see how I made my own hanging shelves for a fraction of the cost here. I also love using hooks to hang things like bike helmets, skateboards, cords and anything else with a handle.
- Broken or rusted tools
- Old light bulbs, batteries, switches
- Empty or mostly empty paint cans (dispose of them according to your city/ county guidelines)
- Unused or broken yard equipment
- Old, unused outdoor toys
- Damaged bicycle helmets
- Flat sports balls (that can’t be repaired)
- Items you’ve been storing and will never use again (time to get rid of the toddler car seat you’ve had in there for 5 years)
- Broken or unused gardening pots
- Old pet toys, dishes, leashes, beds
- Bins or totes without lids or that are cracked
- Old or broken luggage
Home Office Organization
A home office is another area that can really become cluttered. Since you need to keep important papers for seven years (or sometimes forever) it’s hard to keep paper clutter to a minimum.
However I’m sure there are numerous items in your office you could throw away right now. One rule I try to follow is to handle something as soon as it comes into my house/ office. If it’s a bill, pay it. If it’s a bank statement, file it. If it’s something that requires a phone call- make the call right now. The longer you wait to handle something, the more often you will touch it, think about it, and it takes up valuable space in your home and in your brain.
I prefer the binder system for organizing papers and bills, but do whatever works best for you.
- Receipts (as long as they aren’t attached to a warranty or return)
- Printer ink for the printer you don’t own anymore
- Junk mail
- Books you’ve already read and don’t need to keep
- Broken office supplies
- Broken or unused electronics
- Dried up pens
- Random cords
- Old phones (time to get rid of that Nokia from 1997)
- CD Roms (make sure they are empty)
- Computer programs that don’t work on any of your devices
- Documents (check out how long you should keep documents here)
- Kid’s papers/ artwork (find out how to display kid’s artwork here)
- Manuals for appliances you don’t own anymore
- Address labels to a house you don’t live at anymore
- Checkbooks from closed bank accounts
Clean Up Your Devices
This is an area where I really need to improve. However, you can use those snippets of free time throughout the day to declutter your phone or tablet. If you wait in carline to pick up your kids, use that time to go through the apps on your phone and delete the ones you don’t use.
Stuck in line at the store? Spend 5 minutes deleting photos from your phone that are bad, blurry, or screenshots of something you texted your kids or best friend.
- Remove any unused apps on your phone or tablet
- Delete blurry or bad photos and videos (store the rest in the cloud)
- Clear out old messages (memes and gifs take up storage space on your phone)
- Turn off notifications for most apps
- Go to your subscriptions and make sure you aren’t paying for apps you don’t use
- Go through downloads on your computer and delete anything you don’t need
- Remove programs on your computer you don’t use or need
- Turn off your phone or computer and make sure to update the software ( I haven’t turned my phone off since 2010 so I get how hard this is)
Declutter Your Mind
This is quite possibly the most important area you need to declutter. I’ve found that when I’m weighted down by stress or anxiety everything else quickly falls apart. When my mind is clear, I’m able to manage everything else so much better.
While it’s the most important, it is also the hardest because it involves breaking some bad habits (like constantly checking social media or scrolling mindlessly on your phone before bed). For the past several years I’ve maintained a pretty strict morning and evening routine. When I stick to my routine my day is usually amazing no matter what else happens.
When I veer from my routine, my day almost always ends up in the toilet. I’ve had a pretty stressful last five years and I know one of the reasons I’ve been able to manage all the stress is that I stick to my morning routine, so at least I start my day in a good place mentally.
If you don’t declutter anything else on this list I highly recommend decluttering your mind. 🙂
- Get into a morning routine (this is a game changer)
- Take a break from social media
- Remove Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and EMAIL from your phone for one week
- Commit to reading 10 pages in a book every night before you go to bed
- Don’t touch your phone or device for the first 30 minutes after you wake up in the morning
- Exercise for 30 minutes each day (preferably in the morning)
- Journal (Not big on journaling? Write down 3 things you are thankful for each morning or before you go to bed)
- Take a break from television/ Netflix for a week
- Drink at least 8 cups of water every day
- Pray/ Meditate for 5 minutes every morning and evening
- Compliment three people every single day
- Stop multi-tasking, pick one task every day that you want to complete. Don’t do anything else until it’s finished.
- Get rid of little decisions (eat the same thing for breakfast, simplify your wardrobe, etc)
- Be decisive, when you have to make a choice make it quickly and don’t think about it again