Do’s and Don’ts of Decluttering Your Home

Decluttering your home can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be

Decluttering your home doesn’t have to be overwhelming!  By following a few simple dos and don’ts, you can make the process easier and more effective.

The Dos of Decluttering Your Home:

Set a goal

Set a clear goal before starting your junk removal process.  It’s essential for ensuring a successful outcome. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish, especially if you don’t have a clear plan. Set a goal so that you give yourself a roadmap to follow and a clear objective to work towards.

One of the most common goals when decluttering is to simplify a specific room.  Start with a cluttered closet, an overstuffed office, or a cluttered kitchen. By focusing on one room at a time you can break down the task into manageable pieces.

Another goal might be to get rid of items that you haven’t used in over a year or longer. This is a great way to identify items that may be taking up valuable space in your home but no longer serve any purpose.

Finally, some people set a goal of simplifying their overall living space. This might involve decluttering multiple rooms, as well as getting rid of items that are no longer needed or wanted.

a woman sitting at a desk writing down her goals to declutter her home

Start small

When your find that you’re faced with a large decluttering project, it’s important to start small to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Break the project down into smaller, manageable tasks, and you’ll be able to make progress and see the results of your efforts.  One approach is to focus on one room or area at a time, working your way through your space.

Another strategy is to start with a simple task, such as making your bed. This will provide a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to continue with the rest of the decluttering project. By taking a step-by-step approach, you can make the decluttering process more manageable and enjoyable.  Piece of advice: start with making your bed.

a neatly made bed in a mid-century modern home

Be selective when decluttering your home

One helpful tip is to be selective about what you keep and what you get rid of. When you come across an item, ask yourself if it is truly useful, necessary, or brings you joy. If the answer is no, then it may be time to let it go.

This can be a difficult decision, especially if you have sentimental attachments to certain items or if you think you may need the item in the future. However, it’s important to remember that holding onto items that don’t serve a purpose or bring you happiness only contributes to the clutter in your home.

Letting go of these items, you can simplify your living space and create a more peaceful and organized environment. So be brave and take the first step towards decluttering your home by being selective about what you keep.

woman holding a toaster deciding to throw it away or not

Organize as you go

Organizing your remaining items is an important step in maintaining a clean living space. By taking the time to organize your items, you ensure that everything has a designated place and can be easily found when you need it.

There are many ways to organize your things, depending on your personal preferences and the space you have. Some popular methods include using labeled containers, shelving units, and drawer organizers. You may also want to consider using vertical space, such as wall-mounted shelves or hanging organizers.

Another important consideration when organizing is to make sure that everything is easily accessible. For example, items that you use frequently should be stored in a convenient location, while items that are used less often can be stored in a less accessible area — such as the garage or attic.

a woman organizing a bookshelf

Decluttering your home in an environmentally friendly way

As you declutter your home, take the time to consider the environmental impact. Rather than simply throwing things away, look for ways to recycle, donate, or repurpose them. These options not only reduce waste and help protect the environment, but they also support local communities.

Recycling is a great way to give items a second life and keep them out of landfills. Paper, cardboard, glass, and plastic can be recycled and used to create new products. Check with your local recycling center to see what materials they accept, and be sure to properly separate and clean your items before dropping them off.

Donating items is another option that can help reduce waste and support those in need. Clothing, furniture, and household items are often in high demand at local charities and non-profits. I know they are at mine!  Donating these items can provide a sense of satisfaction knowing that you’re helping others, and it can also provide a tax deduction.

Finally, repurposing items is a creative and eco-friendly way to extend the life of items you no longer need. This could mean turning an old t-shirt into a cleaning cloth, using a broken ladder as a plant stand, or transforming an old dresser into a bookshelf. Check out Pinterest or Tik Tok for all sorts of creative solutions.  The possibilities are endless, and repurposing items can be a fun and satisfying way to reduce waste.

a woman throwing away items into a recycle bin

The Don’ts of Decluttering Your Home:

Don’t procrastinate

If you’re like most people, you probably have a tendency to put off things that you don’t necessarily enjoy. Decluttering your home I would guess is one of those things. But it’s important to remember that the longer you wait to start, the more daunting the task will become.

The good news is, however, that once you get started you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Simply to get the ball rolling, it’s a good idea to set a specific date for your decluttering project.

It can be tempting to put off decluttering because you don’t know where to start, or because you’re afraid of getting rid of something you might need in the future. But the truth is, most of us are routinely holding onto things that we don’t actually need.  So instead of letting your fear hold you back, set a date and start the process. You’ll be glad you did!

woman procrastinating on decluttering her room

Don’t hold onto items “just in case”

One of the biggest challenges can be letting go of items that you may not currently need, but think you might in the future. This is a trap.  This mindset of keeping things “just in case” causes our homes to become extremely cluttered and disorganized quickly, making the process even more daunting.

Chances are, if you haven’t used an item in a year, it’s unlikely that you will need it in the future. The one-year rule can be a helpful guideline. If you haven’t used an item in the past year, it’s time to consider whether it’s worth holding onto. Same goes for items that are worn out, broken, or duplicates of items you already have.

Letting go of these items can be difficult — we know — especially if you have sentimental attachments to them. However, it’s important to remember that you can keep memories of the item without actually having the physical item. You can take a photo, write about your memories in a journal, or keep a special memento to hold onto the memory.

woman holding a box of nostalgic items deciding to let it go or not

Don’t forget to declutter your digital life

Decluttering isn’t just limited to physical space. With the rise of technology and the increasing use of digital devices, it’s important to also focus on decluttering your digital life.

We recommend you start by organizing your files and folders on your computer. This could include creating folders and subfolders to categorize your files and documents. Another step could be to eliminate duplicates or files that are no longer needed.

Unsubscribe from unwanted emails.  This is another important step in decluttering your digital life. Going through your inbox and unsubscribing from email lists help reduce the amount of daily emails you receive, making your inbox easier to manage.

Finally, declutter your social media feeds. This can also be a helpful way to simplify your digital life. This could mean unfollowing accounts that no longer bring you joy, or simply taking a break from social media altogether. Remember, the goal is to create a digital environment that supports your well-being and simplifies your life.

a woman decluttering her digital life

Don’t forget about sentimental items

Remember that decluttering isn’t just about getting rid of material possessions, but also organizing the items that hold sentimental value. While it’s tempting to keep everything that has a sentimental attachment, trust us, it can quickly lead to clutter and disorganization. To avoid this, take a step back and reflect on the items that hold the most sentimental value to you.

Once you have identified the truly meaningful sentimental items, make a plan for how to store them in an organized and accessible manner. This could mean creating a scrapbook, displaying items in a shadow box, or storing them in a memory box.

woman decluttering her home

Frequently Asked Questions About Decluttering Your Home

What is the 80 / 20 rule for decluttering your home?

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, is a principle that states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In terms of decluttering your home, it means that 80% of the clutter in your home is likely caused by just 20% of the items you own. By identifying and getting rid of that 20% of items, you can significantly reduce the clutter in your home.

One way to apply this principle when decluttering your home is to start by identifying the areas that tend to be the most cluttered. For example, it may be a specific room like the living room or the garage, or it may be a specific type of item such as clothes or books. Once you’ve identified the areas that are causing the most clutter, you can focus on decluttering those areas first.  To put simply, start with the room in your house that has 80% of the junk.

Another way to apply the 80/20 rule when decluttering your home is to focus on the items that you use the least. For example, if you find that you only wear 20% of the clothes in your closet, you can focus on getting rid of the clothes that you haven’t worn in a year. By focusing on the items that you use the least, you can make a big impact on the overall clutter in your home. To put simply, start with 80% of the stuff in your house that you don’t use.

woman in a cluttered room

How can you start decluttering your home when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of clutter in your home, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are a few tips to help you begin the decluttering process:

  1. Break it down into smaller tasks
  2. Set a timer
  3. Prioritize the most important items
  4. Get a second opinion
  5. Reward yourself
  6. Keep in mind the 80/20 rule
  7. Seek Professional Help

Remember, decluttering is a process and it may take time and effort, but it’s important to take it one step at a time and focus on small wins. The most important thing is to start, and keep moving forward.

woman feeling overwhelmed about decluttering

What should I remove first when decluttering?

When decluttering, it’s best to start with items that are easiest to get rid of, so that you can build momentum and get into a decluttering mindset. Here are some items to consider removing first:

  1. Duplicates
  2. Expired items
  3. Outdated clothing
  4. Broken or damaged items
  5. Sentimental items

Starting with these types of items will help you quickly reduce the amount of clutter in your home and give you a sense of accomplishment, which can motivate you to continue decluttering.

woman pulling out expired items from a fridge

How do you tell if your home is cluttered?

There are several signs that may indicate that your house is cluttered:

  1. Lack of space
  2. Difficulty finding things
  3. Excessive piles
  4. Overcrowded closets and storage spaces
  5. Stress and anxiety
  6. Inability to clean
  7. Shame or embarrassment

If you identify with one or more of these signs, it may be time to start decluttering your home. By removing items that you no longer need or use, you can create more space, reduce stress and anxiety, and simplify your living space.

woman in a cluttered bathroom

Conclusion on Decluttering Your Home

In conclusion, decluttering your home can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By setting a clear goal, breaking it down into smaller steps, and following the dos and don’ts of decluttering, you can simplify your living space and create a more organized and peaceful environment.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when decluttering is to be mindful of your belongings and consider the value they hold for you. Focus on letting go of items that no longer bring joy, serve a purpose, or hold sentimental value. Don’t get caught up in the clutter and focus on creating a space that is truly yours, free from unnecessary items.

Additionally, it’s important to avoid making impulsive decisions when decluttering. Take your time and consider each item before you get rid of it. Consider whether you really need it or if it can be passed on to someone who will find it useful.

Finally, remember that decluttering is a journey, not a destination. It’s okay to take your time and not get it done all at once. It’s also important to maintain the progress you’ve made by regularly cleaning and organizing your space. With a little bit of effort, you can create a home that is free from clutter and conducive to peace, happiness, and organization.

decluttered mid-century modern home

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About the Author: Nicholas Krygier

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Nick is the co-founder / owner of American River Hauling and Junk Removal llc. We take pride in doing what's best for our community, answering the phone, and delivering on promises.