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How to Declutter in Less Than 30 Minutes

Updated on March 28, 2020
Sushma Webber profile image

Sushma has been on a declutter journey for the last few years not only with physical clutter but also emotional and mental clutter.

Stick the three labels: Put Away, Give Away and Throw Away on chairs or boxes.
Stick the three labels: Put Away, Give Away and Throw Away on chairs or boxes. | Source

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? -- Henry David Thoreau

Many of the people we meet claim to be busier than ever before. How can we be so busy when we are surrounded by so many time saving devices? How can we find time to get organized? Is the question on everyone's mind. There are so many options available to fill the 24 hours that we all have that I hear people wishing there were more hours in a day and that there are not enough days in a week!

There are many suggestions and tips available on how to de-clutter your home, office, individual rooms, closets and desks to name just a few. The two best tips I have come across recently that have helped me a great deal are:

  1. Do not put off any chore or task that will take less than two minutes.
  2. De-clutter with the Give Away, Put Away, Throw Away System.

In the course of a day or week, whenever I spot something that needs doing I ask myself, 'Will this take me more than two minutes?' If not, I do it immediately. This is a good strategy to get many of the little jobs out of the way. They will not pile up over the week and look impossible by the time I decide to tackle them.

Having followed the first tip throughout the day or week, it will be time to do a major tidying up and clearing away the clutter. You will find that the number of decisions you have to make are less by the time you make up your mind to tidy up. Let us take a small job of clearing up the desk and putting things where they belong after a days work. It took me less than 20 minutes to do it whereas earlier it would take me at least an hour since I put it off for weeks.

How to Declutter Your Home

Get Organized with the Give Away, Put Away, Throw Away System

The steps to putting this system into action are:

  1. Take three A4 sheets of paper used on one side and write the three labels with a felt pen: Give Away, Put Away, Throw Away
  2. Arrange three boxes or chairs in a row. Chairs are a good idea if the volume of clutter is less and you are ready to deal with all of it immediately. If you want to deal with the things later on then boxes are a better idea so that you can get back to them later.
  3. There are two ways to clear the clutter of the table or any surface with clutter:
  • Put all the stuff on the table into on big box thereby clearing up the table in one go.
  • Sort out the stuff as you go and place on the chair or box with the appropriate label.

Oprah's Organizing Guru shares his Tips on Decluttering


My desk before using the give away, put away and throw away system.
My desk before using the give away, put away and throw away system. | Source
My desk after using the Give Away, Put Away, Throw Away System.
My desk after using the Give Away, Put Away, Throw Away System. | Source
Sort the things in three categories on different chairs of boxes.
Sort the things in three categories on different chairs of boxes. | Source

How to Sort: To Put Away, to Give or Throw Away

A place for everything and everything in its place.

This quote could be the ideal that we could work towards to achieve a clutter free space. I have always found it difficult to get rid of clutter and I have found this system the most helpful.

Put Away – All the things that already have a place and can be put away should come in this category. If there is no designated place for some things they have to be put in a 'To Be Put Away' box. Find a place to put them away in the next week at least.

Give Away – These are things that you would like to give away because it will be useful for a friend or family member who will appreciate it better than you. Or things that you think donating to a charity would be a good idea because no one you know might like to have it. Especially give away things you have not used in the last one year and are in good condition so the charity can raise money by selling them.

Throw Away – There are many things we are attached to because of the memories they hold. However, it is time to throw things away if they have stopped working or are so tattered that you cannot use them anymore. The minute you let go of some things you make place for new things to come into your life. When you want to throw away electronic gadgets then try to contact your local electronic waste recyling firm.

The main thing is to try this method on a small task or small area before tackling a spring cleaning session. I made a start with clearing the clutter on my desk and I am a happy person today writing this article. Being organized reduces a lot of stress. So de-cluttering can be one way of achieving stress-relief. The sense of accomplishment will put you in a better frame of mind to tackle bigger challenges in your daily life.

Do you think it is possible to declutter in less than 30 minutes?

See results
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
One of the best ways to declutter is work in categories. This method by Marie Kondo is similar to that. I have tried it and found it has a lasting effect. Decluttering is a continuous process and it gets easier with practice.

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