Top 10 Ways to Reduce Clutter

posted by Andrea | 08/7/2010

Over the past 3 years, I’ve worked with a variety of people — myself included — who struggle to keep their homes clean and organized {see you’re not the only one!} Many of them simply want to lighten their load and reduce the amount of clutter that drags them down each day. Can you relate?

Photo: Paul Forman

If you’ve tried, and failed, to eliminate clutter from your home — don’t get discouraged. Maybe you just haven’t found the right system that works for you. Take a look at these fool-proof ways to reduce clutter and see if one or two might just do the trick!

Here are 10 Fool-Proof ways to Reduce Clutter:

  1. Practice the “One In, One Out” Rule. This is my #1 suggestion to anyone who is overwhelmed with clutter. Even if you don’t have time to get more organized, you can at least prevent the situation from getting worse! Be intentional — get rid of one thing every time you purchase something new. This goes for clothes, toys, decorations, etc.
  2. Donate Often: I keep a paper bag in every closet and once it’s full, it goes to a local donation center.
  3. Turn Clutter into Cash: Sell items you don’t need, want, use, or love and make some extra cash in the process. I like to call these “Two for One Projects”
  4. Use Every Spare Moment: Look for quick and simple ways to declutter in 10 minutes or less. This otherwise wasted time will really add up.
  5. Use What you Have: So you’re ready to get organized — Great! But don’t go out and purchase new organizing tools, storage containers, etc. Look around your house for items you can reuse. There’s nothing worse than a junk room full of empty bins, boxes, and expensive storage containers! See how I got creative with baskets.
  6. Don’t Shop: This may sound overly simple; but it’s pretty difficult to accumulate clutter if you don’t shop!
  7. Limit Sentimental Treasures: If it’s sentimental but not useful, take a picture and get rid of the item. Even if you received it as a gift from you favorite aunt, it’s still clutter and you don’t need it!
  8. Go Paperless: Limit the amount of paper you come into contact with each day, and you’ll dramatically reduce your clutter. You might also save a few trees in the process!
  9. Get a New Perspective: Go on a service project, spend some time in a homeless shelter, or visit a third-world country and you’ll probably be disgusted with how much clutter you have in your home and your life.
  10. Love it, or Lose it: If you don’t love it, get rid of it. Enough said.

How do you reduce clutter in your home?

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15 comments

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  3. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles

    08/23/2010

    I’m in the thick of this very subject. It’s so hard to keep on top of it all, I find it very frustrating. Your tips are great, though, and I’m thinking about a game plan now! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Glad to hear you are implementing some of my ideas. I decided to organize our basement yesterday…it was a projects but I’m SO happy do be finished!

    [Reply]

  4. Bella @ Lil Daisies

    08/10/2010

    A great list! I have been working over the past couple of years to declutter and simplify our lifestyle….with FOUR girls in tow, sometimes it seems to be impossible….but, we are really working on it.

    Blessings,
    Bella
    http://lildaisies.blogspot.com

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Funny how 4 little kids can throw a monkey-wrench into your organization! Keep plugging away; you’ll get there!

    [Reply]

  5. Betsy (Eco-novice)

    08/10/2010

    This is a really great list. Since we are unemployed (students yet again!), I am really doing 6 and 7 and it is amazing how I have been able to make things work for me. I also whole-heartedly believe in 1 and 2. Number 3 is my best motivational tool — Craig’s List has helped me get rid of lots of stuff I couldn’t quite bear to donate, but was willing to get rid of for even a little cash.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow Betsy…it sounds like you are just taking on the whole list!
    I’m obsessed with Craigs List too. It’s such a great way to make quick money and declutter at the same time — win, win!

    [Reply]

  6. Ashley @ AP Freewriting

    08/10/2010

    Numbers One and Two definitely resonate with me. My kids have a “One In, One Out” rule for stuffed animals. We also try to donate unused stuff that’s lying around the house at least once a year, if not every 6 months or so.

    [Reply]

  7. Andrea

    08/10/2010

    Could you please come hold my hand sometime in February when all my stuff comes out of storage and everything we didn’t sort through when it went into storage has to be sorted through? Dreading it!

    [Reply]

  8. Crystal

    08/10/2010

    I wish I could be more organized!
    The one I actually have found myself thrown into, I can’t shop as much as I used to because since we arrived on Guam we are limited to 1 car and Guam’s ‘malls’ lack anything of interest to me (mostly cheap-o touristy stuff OR expensive brand name stores). Maybe I can bring this habit back to the states with me though when we leave in 2 more years! By then 4 yrs of being so limited maybe it won’t feel any different!
    Thanks for the tips, if only I were more disciplined to use them all!!

    [Reply]

  9. staci

    08/10/2010

    i just have to add freecycle to your list. I like that i can post something, and know that it is going to some body who wants it, and they come and pick it up and the only hard part is trying to decide who to give it to. It makes me feel better than just dropping it off somewhere, where it might get bought or might get thrown out.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Staci,
    Great suggestion! I have actually received a few e-mails from others wondering about Freecycle. I’m thinking about doing a post on how to best utilize this service. Have any advice?

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  10. Christine (iDreamofClean)

    08/08/2010

    Wow…looks like we we’re on the EXACT same page! I wrote a post last Monday with the exact same title and most of the same points! http://www.idreamofclean.net/2010/08/02/10-foolproof-ways-to-reduce-clutter/ Guess great minds think alike!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Crazy! Your post is great…it’s almost scary how similar they are.

    I teach workshops on these “fool-proof” ways all the time…but I guess they are not really fool-proof unless you are willing to put a bit of effort in!

    Thanks for stopping by.

    [Reply]