Get Rid of Clutter

The best way to keep a home clean and organized is to get rid of the things that you no longer need. Clutter can be disadvantageous to your home life, including simply not finding things when you need them. Most of us tend to hold on to things that we no longer use, whether it be from sentimentality, worries about scarcity or sheer inertia. It is wise to clear away old things to make space for new ones.


Clearing Stuff

In this section, you'll be finding and clearing out things. Don't waste time wondering what to do with things just yet; if it's obvious straight away, deal with it; if not, put it in the sorting pile.

  1. Go through the items you have either outgrown or no longer use. Be brutal. If it clutters up the room, and doesn't have a standard place to live, put it in a sorting pile. After all, do you really need those magazines which you have collected since 1998, but have rarely read?
  2. Empty your closet and all the drawers. Take all the clothes that don't fit or make you look awful, and put them in the sorting pile.
  3. Unearth all the pieces of paper you have laying around. Either recycle or throw away the ones you don't need. Store the rest in organized folders.
  4. Any place that attracts clutter, such as your bed, clean it first. Then remove all the items in this area. Throw away items you don't need, clean dirty ones, and put everything else back where it belongs. Anything you're not sure about goes in the sorting pile.


  1. Place the sorting pile in a large, clean area so that you can see everything and organize it.
  2. Ask yourself the three questions about the objects that have ended up into the sorting pile:
    • Do you love it?
    • Do you use it often, or will you soon (within 3 months)?
    • Will you miss it when it's gone? Does it hold memories that are very important to you?
  3. Divide the sorting pile into three sub-piles.
    • First pile: Pile number one should be the things that you mostly use on a daily basis and the things you "love".
      • For example, your phone, tools, shoes, and so on. For keys, perhaps place them in a bowl near the door, keep tools in a toolbox, or buy a shoe organizer. Whatever works for you and will help you find all the more important items easily.
      • Things you love, such as photos, figurines, etc. should now find a home where they can be put on display/secreted away/carefully stored, etc.
    • Second pile: Pile number two should include the things that you use at least once a week or once a month. These are the items that belong in closets, garages or other places that are out of the way. Organize these into storage containers (preferably clear ones so you can easily see their contents) and label them. Other items, such as clothes, hang on clothes hangers and put them away.
    • Third pile: Pile number three should include the things that you have not used for at least six months or a year. If you have not used them in a year, chances are you may never do so. Therefore, get rid of them for good. Give unused and unwanted items to charity, so that someone less fortunate can use them.
  4. Do not expect to be able to finish all this in a day. Depending on how bad the clutter is, it may take you 2 days or a week. If it is emotionally challenging, it can take months and it's a good idea to get a non-judgmental friend or buddy to help you and to keep up your morale.



  • Stay organized! Working for 15 minutes a day to straighten a room is better than working for days to tidy a place every year or so. Remember that any progress is better than nothing.
  • Try not to do this when you're tired, such as after a day of work, but if you must do so after work, try to do a little bit at a time. Set aside fifteen minutes each evening to tackle one small area -- one drawer, or one shelf.
  • Try to do one room at a time. Start at one corner and working your way around an entire room before moving on to the next room.
  • Set a specific time to do it. Never try to undertake such a task after a long day of work if you can help it.
  • Consider holding a garage sale to get rid of the things you don't want. Chances are that someone else will love what you don't want, and it's a way to get some extra cash.
  • Donating items to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc. is tax deductible. This can include old clothes, old shoes, old toys, old appliances, etc. When you drop off the items, ask the attendant for an itemized receipt. Sometimes they let you itemize the items yourself. Ensure receipt is signed & dated by the attendant. This can then be deducted in your taxes using reasonable values for used items. TaxCut and other tax software packages easily guide you through the process of claiming the deduction and can even help you assign reasonable values to the donated items.
  • Promise yourself a gift such as a movie, a new outfit, or a trip after you have finished. Rewards can help you to move ahead with the project by providing an incentive to reach completion.
  • If you are tired take a five minute break and then go back to work. You can listen to music while working for an hour or so.
  • Donate unused items, such as small clothing items. It will help you and someone in need.
  • If you live in Australia upload the clutter you no longer need to Free Treasure and get someone else to come pick it up from your house to save you time to find other things to declutter.
  • If you still happen to have things you don't use and you can't get rid of it but you don't want it in your room, put it in one tub and store it in the attic or basement.


  • Do not force yourself to do it. Make it enjoyable or you will soon lose interest. Give yourself credit for making some progress. A mess that didn't happen overnight won't get all cleaned up overnight either.
  • Before you start the task, make sure that you have the energy and time to complete it. A good rule of thumb is not to pull out more than you can finish in one hour. Set a timer for an hour, and when it's over, you can decide to do another hour if you have the energy. Be sure to give yourself a 15- or 20-minute break as a reward in between hours -- look at email, have a cup of tea, lie down on the couch.
  • Don't try to organize an entire house in one day.
  • Remember that there is a difference between clutter and items that make up the mood and environment of wherever you are cleaning. This distinction depends on the person.
    • You might wish to have a friend over or a relative to help you. Do not invite a hoarder to help you or you will end up in a worse situation. And beware of inviting someone who is too tidy. If they try to toss out your "valuable" items -- you might panic and end up not throwing out anything!

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