The 5 Steps to Getting Rid of Clutter in Any Room
While each room will have its own particular challenges, there are some universal tips on how to get rid of clutter in any room. Below is a simple method of sorting through your belongings and weeding out the clutter.
1. Be prepared.
Have garbage bags and cardboard boxes on hand. If you have a lot of stuff, or tend to get bored and abandon household tasks easily, ask someone to help you out. It’s also handy to have a pre-ordained time limit on household items.
The checklist How Long to Keep Everything will help.
2. Split the room into sections.
Decluttering in zones works. This is how you avoid a scenario where you’re standing in the center of your living room, kitchen, or basement feeling overwhelmed. Split the room into sections, and go through them one at a time. A section could be a bookcase, a row of cabinets, or your desk. It could also be a corner or other segment of the room. Divide the space in a way that makes sense to you.
Go through each item in each section. If you’re starting with a relatively uncluttered space, this might involve simply looking over your belongings. In a messier room, you might have to physically pick up each thing. As you do this, ask yourself:
3. Is this garbage?
Or junk, or trash, or whatever word you choose to describe it. This is easiest category of clutter to deal with (absent a true hoarding problem.) Starting with one section of the room, take a large plastic bag and throw away anything that’s damaged beyond repair or no use to anyone.
Bulky items, like old chairs your cats have shredded to bits, will obviously require more effort to remove. But this step doesn’t have to be done all at once, it’s just easier to complete it before you move on with your decluttering.
Also in the “garbage” category is anything that can be recycled – old newspapers, cans, electronics, and whatever else counts as recyclable in your city.
Sort these and dispose of them properly.
Now move on to the next section of the room, and repeat. When you’ve eliminated the junk from the entire room, you’re ready to tackle the next level of excess stuff. The question this time is:
4. Am I using this? Will I ever?
Now that your space is free of trash, it’s likely still cluttered with perfectly good items that you just don’t use. Maybe you acquired these things for a good reason, but that time has passed. (Like tapes for the VCR you haven’t used since the advent of DVDs, or clothes that are way too big or too small.) Read about the 6 Most Common Types of Clutter, and see if you recognize some of your problem items there.
Be honest while considering everything in your chosen room. If it went missing, would you even notice? Does it function the way you want it to? Do you need it? If not, do you absolutely love it? I believe everything you own should either serve a clear purpose (e.g. printer, spatula, raincoat) or be simultaneously beautiful, meaningful, and small (e.g. a little childhood keepsake or souvenir from a special trip.) Some people consider this too strict; those people tend to have cluttered homes.
Thinking about the future can be tricky.
Of course everyone wants to imagine they will use that exercise equipment again, or that buying a coat tree that always falls over wasn’t a mistake. But everyone ends up with clutter in their life at some point.
And remember that you aren’t just throwing these things away. You can donate them to an individual in need or an organization which will put them to good use. (Read Where to Donate Everything and How to Recycle Everything for some ideas.) Or, you be able to sell some items for extra cash! Getting rid of things doesn’t mean you’re wasting them, but hanging on to items you don’t use is a waste, of space and mental energy.
Once you’ve gone through your whole room and removed the objects you don’t need or truly want, you can stop and feel pretty good about how much work you’ve done. But if you feel better in your newly spacious, functional room, you could also keep going.
5. Bonus round.
Give your room another going-over, checking for anything that may have slipped through your earlier process. Chances are you’ll find two or three items you don’t really need, and letting them go will just make it easier the next time you need to declutter.