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Home » Lifehack & GTD

3 Simplistic Strategies for Getting Rid of Clutter

Last updated by on 12 Comments

I’m going to keep this one simple. I’ve found three effective strategies for tackling clutter. If you struggle with clutter, like just about everyone I know, then give them a try. A combination of the three might work for you, and if you have other strategies, we’d love to hear them!

Get Rid of Clutter Strategy #1: One Comes in, One Goes Out

The strategy here is that every time you bring something new into your dwelling, you take something out. An example would be buying a pair of new socks and getting rid of your most hole-ridden pair of socks that you own. Three new books? Sell or donate three older ones. Want to speed up the de-cluttering process? Make it two things out for every one in. Good luck with that one!

Get Rid of Clutter Strategy #2: Keep it, Sell it, Donate it, Trash it

declutterKeep it, sell it, donate it, recycle it, trash it is a systematic way of going through everything that you own and making one those four decisions on each item. Earlier in the year we discussed five of the best ways to get rid of your stuff, selling on Ebay, selling on Amazon, Garage Sales, Craigslist, and donation. If one of these isn’t an option give it away via Freecycle or curbside or recycle it if you can. Last resort, trash it.

Get Rid of Clutter Strategy #3: The Philisophical “What would I Take with me?” Method

This is probably the most fun way to tackle clutter, but maybe the most difficult because it does require a lot of energy. The method is to apply a philosophical question to your stuff. Here are some examples:

  • “If I had one car load to move things across the country, what would I bring?”
  • “If the Apocalypse hit tomorrow and I had one backpack worth of stuff to take with me, what would I take?”
  • “What would I want to pass along to loved ones when I die?”

Don’t think about it too hard!

Clutter Discussion:

  • How have defeated physical clutter?
  • Have you tried these strategies? Did they work? What problems did you run into?
  • Do you have more or less ‘stuff’ now than you did a year ago?

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12 Comments »
  • Benz Star2000 says:

    I just throw it away.

  • Craig says:

    I am like Benz and have been throwing more stuff out lately. I like to keep things clutter free and organized and as more stuff comes in some stuff needs to move out. Only problem I have with this is with clothes, more shirts come in but I am sentimental to some older ones.

  • Lori Rosen says:

    I run the US office of Blacksocks (www.blacksocks.com), an online sockscription service. Blacksocks is designed for busy men, who would rather use services that help streamline their time. Three pairs of socks come three times a year, automatically when you subscribe. No more wasting time searching for the missing sock, or matching socks. And face it: there is never a great time to go buy socks.

    Blacksocks helps to eliminate a certain type of clutter in your life.

  • G.E. Miller says:

    @ Benz, Craig – yeah, just trashing it is simple, effective, and liberating. It’s tough until the item is gone and a year later you realize that you never missed it (and that’s if you even managed to remember it in the first place).

  • MLR says:

    With some items I use the “FIFO” system – First In, First Out. So my oldest stuff gets replaced by my newest. If I don’t want to part with the oldest, what is the point of the new item? That works on a lot of stuff like clothes and shoes (for me, at least).

  • ARW says:

    Clothes – If you haven’t worn it in the last 6 months (or year for seasonal items like coats) get rid of it. Take it to Goodwill or a buy/sell/trade store like Buffalo Exchange or Beacon’s Closet.

    CD’s – Upload everything to your computer, then go through and match all your old CD’s to the jewel cases and sell them back to your local music store like Amoeba or Second Spin.

    Make it a point to do a thorough sorting/cleaning on a regular basis. Clutter is more overwhelming, the more there is. If you clean out your closet, shred your junk mail, etc. every few weeks it’s easier than trying to do it all at once.

    As for sentimental items – Keep your grandmother’s jewelry or that mix CD from your first boyfriend, but remember (especially with large items like furniture) that a having or not having a material possession has nothing to do with your memory of the person who owned it or gave it to you. Just because you gave away Grandma’s dining room set or your Aunt’s collection of Snow Angels doesn’t mean you didn’t love them, it just means you have no use for extra stuff in your space.

  • Taradelphia says:

    I’ve heard that people who are afraid of the future tend to hold on to possessions longer than those who don’t worry. If you have confidence in your ability to replace the object in the future, than it might be easier to get rid of that third pair of tennis sneaks in the back of the closet. I think it goes both ways, if you make room for new things to come into your life, they will.

  • Amanda says:

    In my case, clutter develops as a by-product of procrastination. The idea that I will sort through that later. I find that breaking the process down into smaller projects, though, helps me get it done, instead of trying to tackle it as a big project.

  • eager reader says:

    Ever watch the cable show “Hoarders”? That is a wonderful incentive to de-clutter!!!

  • sheila chandra says:

    A lot of times the build up of clutter is actually a build up of unmade decisions about what you really need realisitically and what do with what you don’t need. The ‘keep it just in case’ instinct is a way of avoiding making a decision. If you can get into the habit of making decisions as you go, whenever you bring something into the house, or run across a pile of clutter around something you’re using, then it tends to disappear over time.

  • Launch x431 says:

    Make it a point to do a thorough sorting/cleaning on a regular basis. Clutter is more overwhelming, the more there is. If you clean out your closet, shred your junk mail, etc. every few weeks it’s easier than trying to do it all at once.

  • Ron Ablang says:

    That is a very good tip, Launch. If you can do it a little at a time it is less daunting than if you try to do it all at once. Who says you have to toss everything all out at once?

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