A simplified, uncluttered life comes with its fair share of benefits: less to clean and organize, less stress, more money, and more energy for things that matter.
But many people get stumped about where to begin. The mere mention of decluttering makes them feel overwhelmed, anxious, and defeated.
The decluttering journey doesn’t need to be as painful as some make it out to be. In fact, with the right attitude and method, it can become an enjoyable process for nearly everyone.
Give some of these 12 creative ways to declutter your home a try:
1. Give yourself five solid minutes.
Set a timer and see how much you can declutter in five-minute increments. Clear a counter, a shelf, or a drawer. Give it a shot—you might be surprised by how much you can accomplish in such a short amount of time.
2. Give away one item each day.
In doing so, you’d remove 365 things from your home over the course of a year. Take pictures of the items and post them on social media. To make it more challenging, remove two things every day or incrementally increase the number each day.
3. Fill one box/bag.
Grab an empty box and see how quickly you can fill it for Goodwill. You’ll probably be wishing you’d used a bigger box once the whole process is over and your space feels refreshed.
4. Try a closet hanger experiment.
Turn all your clothes hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it with the hanger facing the correct direction. In three months, you’ll have a clearer picture of which clothes you wear and which ones you don’t.
5. Make a list.
Create a list of places in your home to declutter, starting with the easiest. When you’re done with one area, stop. Celebrate. And commit to tackling the next area at a later date.
6. Try the 12-12-12 Challenge.
Quickly locate 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home. On more than one occasion, this challenge became a quick competition between my wife, my kids, and me.
7. Change your perspective.
Start changing the way you think about clutter. Take photos of your rooms, invite over a toddler, or ask the boss to meet in your office. These actions cause us to see our things in a new light.
8. Experiment with less.
My new book, The More of Less, has an entire chapter dedicated to challenging our assumptions by experimenting with less. For example, Project 333 encourages people to wear only 33 articles of clothing for three months. You can adjust the rules as necessary, but the important thing is to challenge yourself for a brief period of time to see what you learn.
9. Use your imagination.
Ask yourself questions like, “If I was buying this now, how much would I pay?” or, “If I was moving into a smaller home tomorrow, would I take this object?” These creative techniques can be helpful for someone having a difficult time removing clutter.
10. Ask yourself why.
When decluttering a room, start with the question, “Do I need this?” Then, add a second question with each item you touch: “Why do I own this?” The answers that come up might surprise you, and they’ll provide valuable insight about what to keep and what to remove.
11. Try the Four-Box Method.
Enter a room with four boxes: trash, give away, keep, and relocate. Next, place every item from that room into one of the four categories—don’t skip over any items.
12. Set physical boundaries.
When it comes to kids’ stuff, establish clear physical boundaries they can see. For example: Toys must fit along the wall, in this toy box, or on those shelves. As their stuff begins to extend beyond those established boundaries, empower your children to make decisions about what to keep and what to remove.
No matter which method you choose to get started, take your first step with excitement. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding beneath your clutter. How you remove it is up to you.