declutterAs many of you know, I downsized from a two bedroom, two bath home into a 5′ x 5′ storage unit.

Over on another board, a discussion was going on about my Carryology interview and how some people were inspired to  have their own clear out. I decided to share what I learned  and thought some of you might benefit as well.


1) Break the job down into small, manageable compartments. (one drawer, one cabinet, one shelf in a closet.) Do this room by room.

2) Take your time.

3) If you’re having trouble deciding with an item, ask yourself: Does it have sentimental value or have I used it in the last year or six months? If no, why am I keeping it? Wouldn’t it be better giving it to someone who will put that item to good use? Like light packing, try to limit the “what if” items. If you’re really having trouble getting rid of something, ask yourself “how hard would it be to replace it?”

3) Give yourself a deadline or make a schedule of each compartmentalized area if you work better with deadlines or schedules.

4) Budget at least twice as much time as you think you’ll need. I learned this the hard way and wound up putting a few extra items in my storage unit that need going through.

5) Have friends come over to help and if they see something they like that you are getting rid of, let them have it as a thank you.

6) Be realistic on what you can donated. Half bottles of household cleaners are not to be donated. Plastic cups that sold new at 4 for $1 can be thrown out.

7) Do a major clear out in two rounds. If you’re really having trouble getting rid of something, hold on to it and come back again in round two.

8) Don’t get into the “I spent money on this so I’ll be wasting money if I get rid of it.” No you won’t. You’ve already spent the money. This was an issue I dealt with a lot and I had to get over it. If you think an item has real value, sell it. Or donate it and get a tax break.

9) A major clear out can be extremely stressful. Be patient and I’ll say it again–give yourself plenty of time.

10) If you have a good deal of stuff to donate, including furniture, many charities have trucks that will pick your stuff up at no charge. If you plan to throw away a great deal of stuff that can’t be left for your regular trash, there are companies that, for a small fee, will come and haul that stuff away.

11) Moving items to a storage unit without moving yourself to a smaller place is not decluttering or having a clear out. It’s the first step to hoarding.

12) Stop buying or get into the habit of waiting before you purchase something. If let’s say you want to buy item “x” and it’s Monday. Give yourself at least until Tuesday to buy it. In between, ask yourself if you really need it, will you actually use it, or do you already have something else that does the same thing. And if you do buy something then realize it was a mistake, return it.

13) If you buy something new, get rid of something old.

If you’re really willing to take this seriously, do the following:

1)Find an extended stay hotel in your area. (These usually include kitchens in the rooms, laundry facilities, gym, free breakfast, free wifi, etc. )

2)Take only clothes, toiletries and any electronics you use on a daily basis.

3)Cook your meals in the room as most include pots, pans and dishes.)

4)Make a list of everything you used in the room.

5) Make a list of everything you missed from home (exclude sentimental items.)

6) Ask yourself this question: If I had to move out of my home and into this hotel for six months, what would I bring from home? Write it down.

7) Anything not on these lists, excluding sentimental items, is icing on the cake and may be things you can part with.

One last thing….if you have a significant other, or children, don’t insist they clear out their items if they don’t want to do this nor do it for them. Unless you are moving and have no choice but to downsize, they have the right to keep whatever they want. And please, please, please, don’t force little kids to get rid of their stuff just because you’re on a “clear out” kick. Their toys/possessions are very important to them. It’s better to discuss the idea of decluttering with them first and let them decide to actually declutter.

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