The Art of De-cluttering Your Home

De-cluttering your home for movingMy favorite blog is Zenhabits. I’ve been reading Leo’s posts for several years and, while I don’t subscribe to all of his habits, I do appreciate his take on family, life and home. I’m especially drawn to the way he breaks things down so that nothing in the world seems impossible, or even too difficult.

A year or so ago when I was preparing for my last move, I took a break to read some blogs and, serendipitously, there was a Zenhabits post on the art of decluttering. I was drowning in trash and donation bags at the time and it seemed so fitting. I’ve always loved moving – and maybe one of the reasons why is because it forces me to get rid of things I don’t need. Nothing makes me happier than a clutter free home.


But, like most people, it’s hard to keep up. So, even though I don’t have a move in the works, I’m going to spend next weekend de-cluttering my home as if I was moving.

**Please note that if you are moving, then it’s best to go through your home and de-clutter before you start packing. Otherwise, you will end up packing things that you don’t need and there is no sense in paying to move things that don’t have a place in your new home. Plus, once all the unnecessary items are gone, packing will naturally be less of a job.

Here is how I go about de-cluttering for a move:

Plan ahead and leave plenty of time. If you are serious about de-cluttering, chances are that you will want to get rid of items that are still usable. This stuff is great for yard sales, Craigslist and donations to local charities, so give yourself enough time to sell items off or give them away.

Create a system to sort your big items. I like to use green, yellow and red sticky notes. I walk around each room of the house and put a green sticky on the items I definitely want to keep, a red sticky on items that I no longer need and a yellow on items that need further pondering. Most of the time, my yellows turn to red because I usually do want get rid of as much as possible. These big items are great for selling, so if you take inventory early you can start figuring out how to unload them.

Focus on one thing at a time. If you try to take on too much, you will panic. Pick a room to start in, then pick one drawer (or one shelf) and focus on that. Take your drawer, empty it out, and go through the pile to select out only the items you know you need. Toss the rest. Move on to the next drawer and continue the process methodically around the room until you are done.

Attack your junk mail, catalogs and papers. I have an unnatural fear of identity theft. It’s so bad that I tend to hoard mail because I’m worried about people stealing my information. If you are anything like me, there is nothing more liberating than getting rid of unnecessary papers. Put all of your truly important paperwork in a safe place, then borrow a shredder and go to town on the rest.

Clean out your closet. Maybe it’s a girl thing, but I keep clothes for way too long. Ladies, if you haven’t fit in your skinny jeans for the past five years the chances are that ship has sailed. Gentlemen, no self-respecting man should ever wear underwear/socks/undershirts/sweatpants with holes in it. If you haven’t worn an item of clothing for the past two seasons, then either it doesn’t fit or you don’t like it.  If it’s wearable, then give it away to someone who needs it.  If you have items of clothing that look like they joined your papers in the shredding machine, then throw them away.

Sort your shoes. People tend to hang on to shoes much like they do their clothes, broken heels and all. If you have shoes that are damaged beyond repair or no longer suitable for their intended purpose (ripped running shoes , for example), toss them.

These are just a few of the steps I take when de-cluttering, but the best tip I can give is to be honest with yourself about what you really need. What do you use regularly in your home? What has real sentimental value? What has languished for years without attention?

I can already think of a couple things I need to donate this weekend. And I’m finding myself more relaxed even now as I think of the free space I’m going to create.

I wish you the best of luck with your de-cluttering!

Photo: Beyond Burnout