Top 5 Tips for Decluttering

Decluttering Tips

My friend Karen Wray works for a great company called Managing Moves and More on the Peninsula that specializes in decluttering, downsizing, and relocation, particularly for seniors.  I love talking with Karen about these topics because I always get such great insight and amazing tips. As a project manager, Karen spends her time helping people prepare for life’s transitions, or to just make their lives a little less messy and stressful.

During one recent chat, I asked how I could cut down on the junk that I feel follows me wherever I move. Here are some of Karen’s tips to help cut down on stuff:

Shop a little less

This seems to make perfect sense, but is much harder than you might expect.  The internet has made it so easy for us to clutter our homes up. All you have to do is think of something you might want, find it online and order it.  Half the time, by the time it arrives, you’ve forgotten you even ordered it. Some things you absolutely need, but for items that aren’t a necessity, consider creating a list.  Leave an item on the list for a few weeks; if you still feel you want it after that time, buy it. If after a few weeks you aren’t sure, just keep it on the list. More often than not, you’ll just laugh that you put it on the list in the first place and take it off.

Donate one bag a week

The goal is to have more going out than coming in.  So start with the easy stuff. Make a first pass through your home and anything you just don’t like or don’t care about, put that in a bag.  In no time, you’ll have your first bag ready to go. If one bag a week feels too much to start, try for one bag a month. The key is to just get started with moving things out of the house that aren’t needed or wanted.  It’s ideal to find old items a new home, versus throwing them away. With so many donation services on the Peninsula, finding new homes for your old things shouldn’t be a problem.

Avoid running through hypotheticals

How many times have you looked at a stack of blankets and rationalized “if I have five people spend the night, I’ll need all of these”?  Now ask yourself, when was the last time you had five people to spend the night (or whatever your hypothetical is)? If you can’t recall, you know you can pare down that pile of blankets, pillows, sheets, whatever you’re stocking up on.  It doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything now, but at least you can get rid of one or two of those items you’re holding on to “just in case”.

Take an emotional inventory

This is one of the hardest things to do.  There are a lot of items that have various emotions and memories tied up in them, and we keep them because of what they meant to someone else.  When you come across an item like this, set it aside with others that have that same feeling. Then take a day when you’re not rushed or tired, and go through each item.  Ask yourself “does this bring me joy?”, a great tip from Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. In other words, does it truly mean a lot to you.  If so, it’s worth keeping.  If not, let it go. That unburdening can be very freeing.

Steer clear of self-storage units

Sometimes you need a storage unit.  Perhaps you’re going through a major remodel and need to move everything out of your house.  Or maybe you have business needs for a storage unit. If you do have a storage unit, it’s a good idea to dig in there and evaluate what you’re storing and why.  If it’s got a layer of dust or grime on it, you may not really care that much about it. If you forgot you own it or thought you gave it away years ago, it can probably be donated or thrown away.  Save yourself money and headaches by clearing out that storage unit and cancelling the rental.

One of the biggest challenges for getting rid of stuff and decluttering is that initial feeling of being completely overwhelmed.  Don’t let that happen to you. Start with just one tip, and go gradually. As you get rid of more stuff, you’ll find it’s easier to keep going.

What are your top tips for decluttering?  Which room is your biggest challenge?


Karen Wray is a Project Manager with Managing Moves & More.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I have not and will not verify or investigate the information supplied by third parties.


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