6 Rules of Decluttering: Get Your Home Back

These Rules of Decluttering make it easier to let stuff GO

A messy house is no fun – it makes me feel stressed and overwhelmed in all areas of my life actually.  I even sleep better when my house is clean. And I can’t get my house clean unless it’s organized – shoving stuff into the cupboards and under the bed doesn’t count as “clean” to me.

When it comes to getting organized, one of the key elements must be decluttering.

There’s just no point in putting everything out of sight if it’s just waiting to burst back out.

However, the very idea of getting rid of  possessions strikes fear into the hearts of … most of us. Often we don’t even know where to start! As with any other process, it’s beneficial to have some rules in place – guidelines that you can count on to take you through the hard stuff. Use these six rules of decluttering to help you take steps toward living a clutter-free life.

(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)

Related: How to clean your house when you are paralyzed by the mess

1 – Vow to Bring Less STUFF Home

The most important rule to set before you even begin to purge items is to make a sincere effort to start living with less stuff. (Which is hard – once you have all that cupboard space for new stuff! Or you might feel like you should “reward” your harwork with a purchase… but you’d be wrong. Reward yourself with a glass of wine, a vacation, a night out with the girls… NOT with a pretty knick-knack.)

There’s no point in putting in hard effort to declutter if you’re just going to undo all your progress by buying more stuff. Setting a mindset to shop with intention is the first step to clearing out – and keeping out – the clutter for good.

2 – Document Your Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion that can lead us to hold onto clutter. Our memories are attached to EVERYTHING. This is always one of the places I struggle the worse when it comes to going clutter free. How can I give up my stuff without sacrificing my memories!?

An effective compromise is to digitize your prized possessions. You can scan the images of things like certificates or kids’ artwork into your computer and organize them into folders. For three-dimensional pieces like trophies or prom dresses, take a photo of the item to add to your digital keepsakes. (Or for baby clothes, make them into a cute quilt! I LOVE this idea.)

Related: How I conquer clutter when it’s emotionally overwhelming

3 – Start Small and Simple

The best way I’ve found to gain momentum in the paring down process is to start with the easy things. Just getting started and seeing progress happen can be enough to carry you forward through the more difficult things!

Begin by boxing up items that don’t hold much (or any) emotional attachment. It’ll lead to a sense of accomplishment and provide motivation for you to keep going when the decision-making becomes tougher.

Related: 50 easy things to declutter today

4 – Lose the Duplicates

Another relatively easy decluttering task involves getting rid of unnecessary duplicate items. (And let’s be honest about how many of the duplicates we actually NEED – not just how many we use. I often use many of my duplicates in the kitchen because it means I don’t have to clean the dirty one. If I was more prompt to clean and put away, I wouldn’t NEED duplicates.)

So take a moment to go through your home and gather up all your duplicate articles of clothing, dish sets and books. Then sort through them, keeping only your favorite colored piece or the one that is in the best condition.

5 – Nix the Guilt

An empowering decluttering strategy is to get rid of things you’ve been holding onto out of guilt. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for that stylish coat if it’s not being used, and unwanted gifts are something else you should part with immediately. These things are yours. The decision of whether to keep them is also yours.

Related: How I deal with the GUILT of getting rid of USEFUL clutter

6 – Put Things in Their Place

Another way to bring organization to your home is to make sure all of your possessions have a designated place and to always return them there. Knowing where stuff belongs makes it easier to keep everything tidy and lowers the chance of clutter becoming a recurring problem.

These rules aren’t the definitive last word on clearing out the clutter, and they won’t remove all of the difficulties from the process. Hopefully, though, they will serve as guidelines to help you begin your own decluttering journey.

clutter free home ideas, decluttering tips

4 thoughts on “6 Rules of Decluttering: Get Your Home Back”

  1. Your section on documenting your nostalgia is a great idea. I finally did this. I took over a thousand slides that my father had shot of me and my family growing up and had them digitized. Now they live both in the cloud and on dvds. I gave a copy to each of my sibliings and got rid of the 20 or so slide carousels that had been taking up room in our house. So pleased to get rid of this clutter!

    Reply
  2. Decluttering used to haunt me. It never fails that if I got rid of something, then the next week, I’d be looking for it. I have even gone back to a thriftstore to purchase the shirt I dropped off the week prior.

    Now that I am mid forties, I have gotten better at letting go. I am more confident in knowing what I want to keep and what I want to ditch, and I don’t look back.

    You have some great advice here. Thank you!

    Reply
    • No problem – I am glad you found it useful. Letting go of that worry can be hard, but it’s SO liberating!

      Reply
  3. I read every post in your kick the clutter section today and I hope it will be helpful. My boyfriend and I live in a tiny one room apartment. (Not 1 bedroom, the whole thing is one room. With a fairly large bathroom.) Before he moved in I did pretty ok keeping it non-cluttered. I definitely kept it tidy and clean but I still had too much stuff. Since he moved in theres twice as many clothes, or three times as many, and all his junk. The kitchen gets dirty twice as fast. He’s always buying me gifts and I love them all but we have waaaaay too much stuff. I’m currently trying to motivate myself to clean up. I would love to have an actual theme to the decor one day like where furniture would match or art would match the bedding. I found a few things helpful from your posts like the categories to use when separating clutter, and asking someone to get rid of stuff for me. I’ll probably pretend that I am the someone else and close my eyes and walk the box right around the corner to the dumpster. Another helpful thing about apartment buildings is it’s ok to leave useful items in the laundry room. People will take them or if they don’t they’ll get thrown away for you and you’re still under the impression someone used them. Thank you for posting this within pinterest!

    Reply

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