We love the idea of decluttering. Doing it, however, is another story. Luckily, there’s help. Follow this guide for inspiration and ideas on easy ways to declutter your home this season.

Benefits of decluttering

The older you are, the more stuff you accumulate, from mugs and books to clothes and souvenirs. Holidays and birthdays bring in even more items. After a while, you run out of places to put things. They go into boxes where they often are forgotten and certainly not enjoyed. Getting rid of the clutter not only frees up space. It reduces stress. There is less to clean and organize, and more time to relax. Plus, decluttering helps you enjoy the possessions that you have in a space that feels clean and comfortable.

Set your expectations.

Remember that the clutter didn’t arrive in a day. Don’t expect it to be gone so quickly. Schedule time each week to focus on this task until it is done. Try to incorporate the habits from the decluttering process to keep your home clutter-free in the future.

View your home as if you were a first-time visitor.

You need a game plan. One easy way is to walk your home as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Use that perspective to decide what spaces you would like to declutter.

  • Draw a map of all the rooms. In each room, mark the clutter hotspots you want to tackle.
  • Give each spot a grade from 1 to 3, where 3 is the most cluttered and 1 is the least. This will help you allocate the right amount of time to those areas.
  • Use the map as your decluttering guide.

Throw out the trash.

Tackle the easiest part of decluttering first. Grab a trash bag and throw away anything that is obviously broken or that is actual garbage. Do this step before you dive into decluttering.

Set aside the time.

Set a timeline for what you will tackle first. It’s fine to start small so that you will feel accomplished. Looking at one cleaned space can inspire you to do more.

  • Choose a timeframe that is doable. You will be able to adjust as needed, once you figure out how much time it really takes to declutter.
  • Take a “before” photo so you’ll know how much you accomplished.
  • Set a timer and begin work.
  • Applaud yourself when you are finished the session.
  • Don’t forget to take an “after photo” so you can see your progress.

Use the organizing triangle.

Separate your items into three piles: keep, trash, or donate. Some people add a fourth box for “undecided.” For paper, the piles are slightly different: file, trash, or recycle. You can use boxes to organize the piles.

  • The “keep” pile should have the things that are meaningful to you and/or things that you use.
  • The “donate” pile should include things that are useful but that you no longer use or that do not fit you anymore.
  • The “trash” pile should be the items that you no longer need and that are not in good enough condition to be donated.
  • Don’t keep something in case you need it in the future. Give yourself permission to buy it again if you might need it. (This may not apply to seasonal items and special occasion wear.)
  • At the end of each session, immediately find a place for the items you are keeping. Consider storing similar items with each other.
  • For documents or other paper products that you’d like to keep, consider a digital filing system. Block out time to do that as part of the decluttering process.

Sort your clothes by what you wear.

You can use the organizing triangle for your clothes, or you could use the following system that naturally sorts the clothes in your closet by whether you wear them.

  • Face all your hangers in one direction.
  • Every time you wear something, face the hanger the opposite direction.
  • Check after a few months and you’ll easily see what you don’t wear. Donate those clothes.
  • For drawers, you can fold your clothes a different way when you place them back (e.g. roll them vs. folding them flat).
  • After a while, you’ll see which clothes you don’t wear and can donate them, too.

 Tidy up by category.

It might be easier to declutter by the type of item versus by room or space. Gather all the similar items into one area. This is an easier way to get rid of duplicates and determine how many items you really need.

  • Start with clothes. Decide how many pants you need, choose your favorites, and donate the rest. Repeat with tops. You’ll want to account for work and casual wardrobes, and special occasions.
  • Repeat the process with your shoes, boots, and footwear.
  • Next look at your books. Organizing expert Marie Kondo recommends keeping less than 30 books. Choose the ones that inspire you, your favorite stories, and the ones you want to reread.
  • Go through your kitchen tools. If you can’t remember the last time you used a kitchen item, it’s time to donate it.
  • End with sentimental items. By now you’re used to the decluttering process, which could make it easier to distinguish which special items you truly want to keep. Make sure you have a place for them. If you’re keeping them in a box, then you’re not enjoying them.

 Enlist some help.

Getting help can be the inspiration that you need. Not only do many hands make light work, but you can also get another person’s perspective.

  • Get help from a friend or family member. Ask them to suggest some big items to throw or give away.
  • You can hire a professional organizer. This could be useful if you’re not making progress or if you’ve gotten to a point and can’t get past it.
  • Rent a dumpster. You can get rid of larger household items that way.

Cut down on future clutter.

Here are some ways that you can continue to keep your home clutter-free.

  • Use those Amazon boxes that bring new things into your house to donate the same number of things to go out of your home. Do it as soon as you get something new: one in, one out.
  • Sort through your mail at the recycling bin so you can immediately toss what is not needed.
  • Keep a box in your closet. Every time you try something on, and you don’t feel good in it, toss it in the box for future donations.
  • Give away one item each day. By the end of the year, you’ll have given away 365 things.
  • Set a timer and commit to 20 minutes each day, or week, to stay on top of the clutter. You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish.

 Finally, make sure your home is covered by the right homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to protect your possessions now and for years to come.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.


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