How to Let Go of Clutter

You know you need to declutter and organize your home but you have no idea how to let go of clutter because you have trouble letting go of things. Here are simple strategies to help you let go of clutter and enjoy your home!

Do you ever feel like your life is cluttered with too much stuff?

No matter how hard you try to declutter and organize, there is still an overwhelming amount of stuff you need to take care of.

  • That memory box full of special items…
  • Those old clothes in the back of the closet that have never seen the light of day…
  • That wedding gift.

You can have a lot of emotional attachment to a particular item.

You are not alone.

I have been there and understand. It has taken me years to get to the mental space of being able to let go of items. Truth is, I still struggle with it at times.

There is always that lingering thought in my mind…

  • “what if I need it someday?
  • “but I spent a lot of money on this!”
  • “it has sentimental value because of all the memories it holds!”

I get it!

The key to letting go is a mindset shift coupled with a few simple steps and dedication.

Once you master the mindset shift, the simple steps and dedication will easily follow.

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Mindset Shift Required to Overcome Clutter

A mindset shift plays a big role in being able to overcome clutter.

Unfortunately, making the mindset shift is probably the hardest part for anybody. Here are simple basic practices and easy steps you can work on to make that change in mindset.

1. Make a “To-Keep” List

This is the concept in Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I absolutely loved this concept when I read it.

It basically says to ask “what do I want to keep?” rather than “what do I want to get rid of?”. It’s a simple change but it changes the way we think about the things we need to get rid of.

Having the mindset of choosing only the items that we really love and use makes it not easier to say goodbye and let go of the stuff that you don’t really care for.

It is definitely hard to let go of a family heirloom, an unused gift from a family member or someone you love, or your once favorite outfit.

Also see how to organize your house one room at a time.

2. Start Easy

Getting rid of the simpler items – the no-brainers is the easiest way to start. These small changes put you in the mindset of getting rid of items.

Start with a simple space – like the junk drawer in your kitchen, the medicine cabinet in your bathroom, or that top shelf in your closet – anything that doesn’t take up too much time and there is a high probability of getting rid of items.

Pull everything out and decide which items need to go – chances are you will get rid of 80% of those items without even thinking. The possibility of you having sentimental items in those spaces is very small.

This step not only cleans up your problem clutter spaces but also helps put you in the frame of mind.

You will feel how freeing it is to get rid of items that are just taking up space and that feeling is definitely addictive!

Recently, I started clearing out that hard-to-reach corner in my pantry (my pantry is built pretty weirdly!). But I don’t know how, it extended out to the rest of the pantry and then to the bathroom storage cabinets. I had time that afternoon and couldn’t stop!

See the 101 things to declutter right now.

3. Practice

Like with any muscle in your body, it takes practice to make it easier.

As I mentioned, starting out with one shelf in my pantry had a cascade effect and I couldn’t stop myself from cleaning out the rest of the shelves.

The more you declutter, the easier it gets! 

4. Accept Your Losses and Move On

One of the most common reasons for clutter is shopping.

You might be shopping for new clothes when there are perfectly great outfits sitting in the back of your closet.

Or you may be holding onto that piece of furniture because you paid a lot of money for it.

If you are holding onto an item just because it was expensive, you should also take into account the toll it takes on your mental bandwidth AND the storage space it is using up. Is it really worth it?

It may be time to accept that you made a mistake getting it and that you can get rid of it and move on.

You don’t want to be stuck holding onto something that doesn’t add value to your life and home while also reminding you all the while about the mistake you made and all that money you spent on it.

5. Think About How It Will Help You

Think about your why.

Why did you decide to go on this decluttering journey in the first place? Why did you decide you needed this?

Remind yourself every day and whenever necessary. Some ways to do this are:

  • Journal about it – write down how it made you feel to declutter a small part of your home. Write down why you need to declutter. And write down why you do not want to get rid of something. Trust me, a lot of times when we write down any we aren’t doing something, the reason starts to feel like an unconvincing excuse.
  • Write it and put it up on the bulletin board in your home so you can see it every time to pass by and it will be a gentle reminder.
  • Picture the after – your space clutter free, warm, and welcoming. Maybe create a Pinterest board with what you want your space to look like.

These exercises will definitely give you the motivation you need to overcome the friction of decluttering in your mind.

6. Think About How It Will Help Others

When you declutter, you can either donate the items or have a garage sale.

Imagine how these items that you don’t use, that simply sit in corners of your home taking space can actually be useful to someone else – someone else that is waiting for just the thing you don’t need!

Check with local churches, food pantries, and organizations that might have information on how you can donate gently used items to a family or person in need. Of course, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and Salvation Army are great options as well.

If you have books, check if the local library will accept them, or maybe the elementary, middle or high school will.

If you know that the items you are getting rid of will actually be helpful to someone else, it will make parting with that item easier.

7. Create a Space for Memorabilia

The hardest part of decluttering is when you have to let go of sentimental items.

You don’t necessarily need to do that though.

Create a designated space that can hold them for you. Just don’t allow them to overflow.

For each of my kids, I have a storage bin with folders. Each folder is a grade. I add the drawings they bring home to it. At the end of the year, we go through and keep only the truly special pieces. Now that my daughter is in 7th grade, we barely get any additions to the box.

Plus, I have another smaller keep box with all kinds to items that are special to us. That is it. None of the sentimental clutter is allowed to outgrow these boxes.

We store the boxes in the back of the closet of the spare bedroom.

Another option is to take a photo of the item and save it on a hard drive because digital photos are a lot easier to organize and it is a lot easier to access when you want to go down memory lane. I think I may do that very soon.

8. Don’t Compare

It is very easy to see other homes that we aspire towards and feel overwhelmed, envious, and even demotivated.

Do not compare!

Everyone is on their own journey and life stage. Stick to your path.

You can definitely use their homes as motivation and a goal to aspire to. But don’t let them deter you. You got this!

9. Be Grateful for Each Item

You have probably heard of this idea. It is from Marie Kondo and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

In her book, she says to focus on each item, remember the joy it brought you, thank it, and then put it in the giveaway pile.

I recently tried this when I emptied out my closet. There were definitely memories associated with some of the items – like the blouse I wore for my daughter’s 2nd birthday and hadn’t worn it in about 5 years. I thought about the times and felt the joy and put the blouse in the giveaway pile.

Reminding yourself that the item has served its purpose and that it can now go on to someone who needs it more is definitely freeing.

10. Get the Support

Decluttering is hard and you cannot do it alone.

Get support from friends, family members, or professionals if necessary to talk through the process, and encourage and keep you accountable.

You can even run challenges to make it fun!

I love to set a 10-minute timer, set out a box, and see which one of my kids fills their box with giveaway items first.

Not only is it fun, but it also gets them in the mood and a lot of times, they continue working on it even after the timer is done. This takes us back to when I mentioned practice.

Decluttering can be hard. Take it step-by-step and your entire home will soon be clutter-free! You got this.

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Anika Gandhi

Anika Gandhi is on a mission to declutter and organize all the things around her and is here to inspire and encourage you to do the same!

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