How to Declutter Your Life (and why you should)
What if we told you that you could declutter your life and make more room for what truly matters? Less clutter, more organization. Less stress, more time. Less debt, more freedom. Less discontent, more intention.
No, we’re not selling you some kind of magical wonder pill—but have you tried coffee? It works pretty well.
Believe it or not, you can sift through the chaos and create the organized life you want. We’ll show you how with these 10 tips to declutter your life, your house, and your money.
Why should you declutter?
Okay, before we get into the how, let’s talk about the why. Why should you declutter? How can getting rid of a bunch of stuff impact you?
Trust us, it can—and in ways you might not have even considered. Decluttering can not only help you save space in your house, but it can also help you make more space in your life for the things that really matter.
For decluttering to have its full effect, though, you have to first believe that filling your life with stuff—material items—will never actually bring true fulfillment. Once you believe that, you’ll be on your way to living with a minimalist attitude, no matter how much (or how little) you end up decluttering.
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Declutter your house
Just thinking about decluttering your house can be exhausting. We get it! If you’re committed to decluttering once and for all, try not to overwhelm yourself right from the start. Instead of looking at the big picture, just declutter in small ways, little by little. Baby steps!
Create a sorting system
It’s time to simplify your life and declutter your house, so let’s get to it! The first thing you need to do is take everything out of your drawers, compartments and any other places clutter might be lurking.
Then lay it all out on a towel or sheet and start to take inventory of what you have. It’s easier to see what you really have this way. Now, separate your items into three different groups: keep, toss and store. And don’t forget to sell or donate any duplicates you find along the way (more on that later).
The basic idea of minimalism is that you should only keep things that serve a purpose or bring you joy. So start there. Does that old sweater with the hole in it bring you joy? Is it still serving its purpose? You probably know the answer to that one. Which leads us to . . .
Sometimes the answer will be obvious: hello, holey sweater. But sometimes it will be tricky, like when you have multiple eyeshadows of the same color or a half-used bottle of moisturizer from your college days. Don’t talk yourself into keeping it or rely on the “I might need it someday” school of thought.
Is there room for sentiment when you’re about to declutter your home? Yes! You don’t have to get rid of your baby’s coming-home outfit or first blanket. Just store it for safekeeping. But this can get out of hand pretty fast, so be careful you’re not too quick to plop something in the “store” pile. Pack rats, we’re looking at you!
Declutter your rooms
When it comes to decluttering your house, there are two simple rules you can use as you go through each room.
Does this item belong in this room?
When was the last time I used it?
Remember to take things out of containers, off the shelves, and out of drawers. That way you can see everything you have to work with.
It’s easy to become a collector of things like DVDs, CDs, books and, oh yeah, toys. Instead of throwing things away, you can sell them on Craigslist, Decluttr or other apps. If no one bites, donate the items to Goodwill or have a garage sale. Win-win!
Declutter your workspace
Even pack rats know that it’s hard to get work done in a messy workspace. So declutter it!
Sort papers into three categories:
Get everything off your desk, and don’t forget to go through those drawers and cabinets! See what you can purge and part with altogether. Then look around your house or office for containers you can use to organize papers and loose items. You might even want to invest in some affordable organizational items, too.
Declutter the closets
Oh, those closets. They can be one of the worst areas to dive into when you’re trying to declutter your house. But it doesn’t have to be scary!
Keep these three rules in mind as you go through the clothes in your closet:
Does it fit?
Is it damaged?
Have I worn it in the last year?
The first two answers are pretty easy—but how do you really know when you last wore something? Here’s a tip: Flip all the hangers backwards (hooks facing you). When you wear an item and go to hang it back up, turn the hanger back in the opposite direction (hooks facing your closet wall). Then wait six months to a year. If there are any hooks still facing you with clothes you haven’t worn, maybe it’s time to part with those items.
If you’re up for a crazy challenge, see if you can keep a closet full of only staple items. There are plenty of minimalist fashion challenges out there. Some ask you to wear only 33 items—including clothing, shoes and accessories—for three months. Some allow even fewer items and last 100 days or even a full year! It sounds pretty tough, but it’s doable if you’re up for the challenge.
If you’re embracing minimalism, sooner or later that will impact the things you have memories attached to—and that’s where it can get sticky. How can you possibly part with your 3-year-old’s adorable drawings of scary stick figures with huge eyeballs? You’re decluttering but not heartless! Here’s a pro tip: Take a picture of it. Go digital with the way you store your photos, videos and treasured memories like drawings, birthday cards and even love notes.
Again, this might be a hard one to latch onto, but it’s a great way to declutter your house. Take photos or save scan files of important documents, receipts, invoices, statements, records, etc. Shred any personal or sensitive documents. This is also a great way to help protect yourself from identity theft. Of course, don’t go on a shredding spree! There are some physical documents you do need after all. Your sentimental spouse probably won’t appreciate a shredded marriage license or birth certificate.
When all the declutter dust settles, call it a night and sleep on the decisions you made. If there’s something you absolutely cannot let go of or live without, you’ll know in the morning.
Declutter your life
Making space in your life for what really matters might be even trickier than decluttering physical things from your life, but it’s worth it.
Declutter your schedule
It’s easy to load up your plate with commitment after commitment. Between work, school, sports, church and keeping up some kind of a social life, it can be hard to find time to breathe! Our culture loves to tell us that we need to have jam-packed calendars to feel fulfilled, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Cut back on the commitments and give yourself room to actually enjoy your life! Carve out time for what truly matters to you. Learn to say no instead of feeling obligated to say yes. The word no can be a freeing word. Give it a try!
Live with intention
Before you buy anything, step back and ask yourself if your life really needs another one of these things in it—whatever it is. Do you really need another pair of jeans? Why? Do you need to replace a pair, or do you just have an itch to buy something, anything? Sure, those picture frames might be on sale, but do you need more? Do they bring you joy? Be intentional about your purchases as you work to declutter your life. Remember, don’t buy things you don’t need, especially if they don’t have value or mean something to you.
Let go of comparisons
Look away from the clutter on your news feed. Back away slowly from your friend who’s bragging about their brand-new car and the vacation they took to the Bahamas. This whole comparison trap is real. So real that our own Ramsey Personality Rachel Cruze wrote an entire book about it!
Sometimes you need to spend less time on social media (or take a break completely) to reevaluate its place in your life. There are some great apps out there, like Moment, that will actually tell you how much time you’re spending on social media each day. You can even set daily limits for yourself, and you’ll get a notification if you’ve gone over. This helps you be mindful of how much time you’re on your phone and makes sure you stay accountable.
You might not think you spend that much time on your phone, but it’s hard to argue with big, bold numbers showing that you spent a grand total of five hours on it today. Yikes!
Ditch the debt
Is it really possible to declutter your life by getting rid of debt? Oh, you better believe it. There is nothing more freeing and purposeful than paying for things with money you actually have and not owing anyone anything.
So, how do you do it? First, save up your starter emergency fund of $1,000. Next, list all your debts from smallest to largest. Then attack your smallest debt like crazy and get rid of it. Once that debt is gone, take what you were paying on it and apply that to the next smallest debt. It’s called the debt snowball, and once it starts rolling, there’s no stopping you.