The Fool-Proof Method of Decluttering

August 2, 2011 | By | Comments (9)

When taking on a decluttering project, I approach each project in almost the exact same way every time. I call it the tabula rasa method of decluttering because you always start with a blank slate.

Step 1: Empty the space. It doesn’t matter if you’re decluttering a drawer a closet or a garage, the first step should always be to pull everything out of the space.

Step 2: Evaluate the space. Do walls need to be patched and painted? Is there any water damage or a spider web or dust or anything that can be cleaned? If any work should be done to the structural elements of the storage area, do that work now.

Step 3: Sort the stuff. Whatever you pulled out of the space should now be sorted into piles. I usually organize my stuff into three piles (Keep, Purge, Other), but try this eight pile system if you’re just getting started with the decluttering process –

  1. Keep and organize in this space
  2. Keep but put away someplace else in the house
  3. Keep and repair
  4. Sell on eBay, Craigslist, or in a yard sale
  5. Return, list on Freecycle, or giveaway to someone you know
  6. Donate to charity
  7. Recycle
  8. Trash

Step 4: Prepare the storage space. After sorting all your stuff and having a good idea of what needs to go back into this space, then (and only then) can you decide if you need to buy organizing products. If you need organizing products, buy them now. If you don’t (and you probably won’t), move onto the next step.

Step 5: Return items to the storage space. This is a pretty straightforward step.

Step 6: Take care of all the other piles. While you still have motivation, put trash in the trash, put your recycling in the recyling bin, and list items for sale online. Drop items off at the repair shop or a charity or to their rightful owners.

Step 7: Celebrate your success. Go you!

Image: Comstock/Getty Images

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