Clear Your Clutter in Six Steps

Clutter makes chaos. Susan Levitt defines clutter as items that are not stored properly (so either you can’t find them when you need them or you’re constantly tripping over them), items you don’t need or use that still take up space, and items you dislike that you feel obligated to keep. But you can conquer your clutter!

Here are six steps to rid your home and your life of clutter forever:

First, categorize your stuff.
You can do this room by room, since most of us are overwhelmed by the thought of doing the whole house all at once. Here are the five categories:

Essential: The things you need and use regularly.

Favorites: Your treasured mementos and favorite pieces of art.

Other people’s stuff: Things that you have borrowed, including rented videos and library books, and items that just don’t feel like they should belong to you anymore.

Annoying: Dirty laundry, junk mail, old magazines. It all piles up quickly.

Disgusting: Moldy food, junk food wrappers, that kind of thing. Eww.

Now you’re ready to conquer your clutter.

Ditch the disgusting stuff. This is the most obvious and easy place to start. Wash, dump, compost, or otherwise get rid of it.

Deal with the annoying stuff. Recycle magazines and junk mail, collect and wash the laundry, file, box, and store the things you think you might need, but get all of it out of sight and out of your space.

Donate. Give borrowed items back to their owners. Donate unwanted stuff to a local charity. Be honest with yourself: if you really detest something, even though it was a gift, get rid of it. You will find this to be remarkable cathartic and freeing.

Display. Your favorite things deserve special places where they can go. Honor your jewelry with a beautiful box, place loose photos in an album, make a shelf to show off your collections.

Devise. Your essential things need to be accessed easily, so devise a system so you’re not always fruitlessly searching for them. Keys can go on a hook by the door, bills in a basket on the desk, dirty laundry in a hamper in your closet, borrowed items in a box that you check every time you’re getting ready to visit someone.

Inspired by Teen Feng Shui, by Susan Levitt (Inner Traditions, 2003).

164 comments

Cynthia B.
Cynthia B.3 years ago

Tx so much!

Olga Shestakova
Olga Shestakova3 years ago

Thank you! Sometimes I feel that I've got too much stuff I don't really need. My flat is small and it is really disturbing to store it. Not long ago I started to do some of these steps and I'm glad to see that I move in a right direction:)

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lin M
Lin M3 years ago

Sent to my friend who is moving soon. Hope it helps her.

Anne F.
Anne F.3 years ago

Love the categories of annoying and disgusting! This is an inspirational article.

Bill and Katie D.
Katie D.3 years ago

Thank you

Nimue Pendragon

Move house. That's sometimes the only way you can actually see how much stuff you have. Then you can get rid of most of the excess before you move, and whatever is left you can sort out when you get to the new place. It's amazing once you are there, how you will see that things you felt you absolutely HAD to keep, just somehow don't seem that important anymore.

Richard D.
Past Member 3 years ago

You left off one of the more important categories... things that you haven't used, have been stored, for months/years... to be sold/given away/trashed. Have no further use? Get rid of it.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Marianne B.
MARIA B.3 years ago

good ideas thanks