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Easy Decluttering Solutions: How Did Your Home Get So Cluttered?

Updated on March 23, 2014

Do you think you may be a pack rat?

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How Did You Get So Disorganized and Full of Clutter?

The first thing you should do when taking on the goal of turning into a clean and organized person is to analyze why things got of control in the first place. You need to analyze what brought you to this point, so you can watch out for that behavior in case it comes back.

You can follow all of the advice in the world in regards to organization and cleaning, but if you don’t change your habits, you will be right back where you are today. So, you need to analyze how you got to be in the position you are in today. Consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you hold on to things because you think they are worth something when they are not?
  • Do you buy things you already own because you don’t have an organized home?
  • Do you buy things you do not need because they are on sale?
  • Do you hold on to things given to you just to be nice even though you do not use or want them?
  • Do you keep old things even when you buy new replacement things?
  • Are you afraid to get rid of things because you think someday you might miss them?
  • Do you own things you don’t even like but want to hold on to because you have owned them for so long?

You probably received some “stuff” or “clutter” when you were born. However, does it mean anything to you now? Could you use the money instead if you sold it instead of hanging on to it? Can you keep a hope chest or memory box full of items from your childhood?

Getting Started with Cleaning and Organizing

While a deep spring cleaning and organization is best for the home, there are some general guidelines you can use to get basic organization under way (until you get to that stage of your cleaning and organizing make-over). There are basic ways to make a dent before digging in.

The best ways to do basic organization is avoiding becoming a pack rat, not burning yourself out by taking on too big of an organization project, and weeding out the belongings you don’t use. Start by using at least one of these methods, and you will move swiftly along.

Use a hope chest to store your treasures!
Use a hope chest to store your treasures! | Source

Avoid Being a Pack Rat: Becoming a Minimalist

Do you have belongings that you haven’t touched in ten years? Do you have a feeling you might need something someday, so you hold on to it even though you don’t ever use it? Do you have belongings you have never used, but think you will? Get organized!

  • If you haven’t used an item in two or more years, donate or sell it. If you really need that item in the future, you can buy a new one.
  • If you have clothes that are too small, but you have hopes to fit into them someday, yet you have not worn them in years, you need to consign, sell, or donate them. If you lose weight and are able to fit into smaller clothes, by that time, those clothes will be out of style, and you can buy new clothes that fit. Plus what better way to reward yourself for losing all that way then allowing yourself to go on a fun shopping spree? Keep in mind: As people age, they typically do not lose weight, but rather they gain weight.
  • Do you have duplicate items? Do you only use one of those items? Donate or sell the other one. If it’s broken or torn, throw it away.
  • Don’t purchase items that you think you already have. If you must, keep a list with you of things you need at the store to avoid buying duplicate items.
  • Have a garage sale. Get rid of all of the things you don’t use or won’t use. Advertise well.


Don’t Get Overwhelmed

If you are truly a pack-rat, take it one drawer or cabinet at a time. Examine each item, and evaluate whether you have used it in the past two years or not. After doing one cabinet or drawer, stop. Don’t overwhelm yourself by doing too much.

If you overwhelm yourself, in the future, you are not going to be motivated to do more. Plan to do one cabinet or drawer per week. This way you won’t be overwhelmed and become discouraged.

The Best Way to Weed Out Your Belongings

When going through a drawer, closet, or cabinet for your spring cleaning, follow these steps.


Step One: Set Up Your System

Put together a system of three jumbo trash bags, three baskets (wicker, plastic, or laundry), three boxes, or three big rubber tubs.

Step Two: Start Small

Pick a smaller corner of the area to start with. Be reasonable with your expectations. Make sure you have realistic goals when it comes to organization and cleaning. Start slowly. Start with a small area in order to gauge how long it takes you to organize and spring clean.

Step Three: Separate Your System

Use your three containers to separate belongings that do not go in that area as follows:

  • Trash – torn, broken, ripped, holey, outdated, expired items that cannot be salvaged should be thrown away. Do not donate things that cannot be used. Think about it, and don’t be cruel to the poor by donating ripped panties or stained clothes.

  • However, if you are unsure about whether or not the item can be used by someone, especially if this quandary is making you rack your brain as to whether or not you want to keep it, put it in the “donate” container. They will decide what to do with the item. The most important thing is that you get it out of your way.

  • Donate – If you cannot think of a way to make money selling an item, but it is still useful and worthy of keeping (at least to someone), put it in the container marked “donate,” and seal it away.

  • In other words, once you put it in the “donate” container, make it so that you will not see the item again. You might (or another family member might) see it, and reconsider whether you may use it one day.

  • Once you make a decision to get rid of it by donating it, the decision should be set in stone. The decision was made. Forget about the item. Don’t look back. Think about the good that you are doing by giving your belongings to someone less fortunate.

  • Sell – Have a garage sale with items that are worth a decent amount of money. Decide if you think it is worth your time and energy though. Garage sales can be costly to advertise and are a lot of work. You can also sell things at consignment stores, pawn shops, or online.

Garage Sale

Before you have a garage sale, do the following analysis.

  1. How much do you make per hour at your job? $15.00/hour?
  2. How much will a garage sale bring in? $125 total? You can estimate the amount you will make at the garage sale by examining your belongings.
  3. How many hours was the garage sale? 25 hours? If you were working those 25 hours, you would have been paid $375.00.
  4. Since you worked 25 hours on your garage sale and only made $125, technically, you only made $5.00/hour.
  5. Is sitting in the heated garage, being bored, making chit chat with strangers, and watching out for thieves worth $5.00/hour to you, or would you rather be watching a movie in the air conditioning, doing a craft project, or interacting with your friends and family?

Think about it long and hard, because garage sales are often unpleasant to run, and your time is valuable. So, do the calculations to figure out if it’s worth it to have a garage sale.

Have you held a garage sale before?

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Well, these are baby steps to get you on the route to an organized life. You can apply the tools you learned in this tutorial to any room, closet, shelf, cabinet, or drawer that you see fit. Consider the weeding out option. It truly illuminates so much clutter and you will live a much more stress-free life.

Organization Tips: How to Declutter Your Home


Pictures: The pictures used in this article were taken by Michele Jones.

Videos: The provided videos were from

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