15 Steps to Decluttering (a newbie’s advice)

Congratulations, you have decided to declutter your home/car/bedroom/basement/closet/kitchen pantry/whatever!


I don’t know what led you here: it could have been that you stubbed your pinky toe tripping over that box of books you never read (nor care to); it could be because you are sick of looking at a closet overly stuffed with clothes (not sure why because you wear the same 4 t-shirts and 2 leggings on repeat((SAME))); it might be because you are bored and needing something to do (God bless you); it could be because you’re moving; maybe you just need space.


Whatever the reason, congrats. I have been going through the process and thought I could share the steps (maybe I should call them stages…) that I went through while decluttering not only my house, but my life.

Disclaimer: I am new at this. I am by no means a decluttering guru, so take my advice lightly! Also, please PLEASE don’t come at me mad when you don’t want to get rid of that painting you made when you were 3 because the sentimental value that it holds in your heart can not be beat. This is something you have to do for yourself and something that is not easy; letting go is NOT easy, but it is freeing.

STEP 1: make a large pot of coffee

STEP 2: drink it all (seriously, drink the entire thing)

STEP 3: remind yourself that this process will not be completed in one hour (or one day for that matter)

STEP 4:  mentally prepare to let go of things you do not need

STEP 5: Look at what you are decluttering and picture how nice it will look when everything is organized, clean, and minimized. DO THIS STEP! It will be your motivation moving forward.

STEP 6: Pick up something from the clutter. Look at it for 3 seconds then throw it in the trash. KIDDING! Not yet. not yet. First, think about the item like this–If you had 30 minutes to grab and save anything from your house before it blew up (don’t laugh) would you think about this particular item? Honestly? No, Debra, you will NOT think about that sweater you haven’t touched in 4 years, I promise. No, Jamie, you don’t need to save the alphabet magnets on your fridge. If this thinking pattern just isn’t working for you, here are a couple of other questions you can ask yourself when trying to downsize:

  • Do I NEED this?
  • Do I have something similar to this?
  • Do I own multiple of these? Which is my “can’t live without”?
  • Would I miss this?
  • Could someone else benefit from this?
  • Do I use this daily? Weekly? Monthly?
  • Can I say goodbye to this and be ok?

STEP 7: Put things back that you need or can not part with and put the things you don’t need, want to get rid of, and can say goodbye to in a pile

STEP 8: repeat steps 6 and 7 until you’ve gone through every item in the clutter

STEP 9: probably go to the bathroom because you’ve drank an entire pot of coffee

STEP 10: Decide what in your “goodbye” pile will be donated and what will be thrown away. Don’t take too much time doing this or you might want to take some of it back–RESIST!

STEP 11: give yourself a pat on the back because this is not easy

STEP 12: actually follow through and get RID OF THE STUFF. Don’t leave it in your car for 3 weeks (guilty) because then the clutter just relocated itself. Say goodbye.

STEP 13: Organize the space (you now should have WAY more of it to work with)

STEP 14: Enjoy your decluttered space. Seriously, soak it in.

STEP 15: This is important. Listen up. Do NOT use this open space as an opportunity to go out and buy more things to fill the space with. Decluttering is not just purging and buying and purging and buying. Minimalistic living means you live with what you need and only that. If you’re someone who rewards yourself by buying something, try a new reward system that doesn’t include bringing things home. Some ideas?

  • Get a massage or pedicure
  • Go to the movies
  • Read a book at the library while drinking a triple chocolate chip mint whip frappe
  • Go virtually anywhere outside and enjoy it
  • Eat an entire box of Oreos while grocery shopping (Guilty. ((I PAY FOR THEM AFTER RELAX)) )
  • Do one of those baths with the magical unicorn glitter bath bombs that fizzle and glitter and…I’m pretty sure that is all they do but they look helllllla cool.
  • Go fishing
  • get a haircut? I don’t know I’m running out of ideas…but you get the picture


No matter why you are deciding to declutter, I hope this helps you with the process. It isn’t easy, it isn’t simple, it isn’t quick. BUT it will help you to breathe easy, live simply, and quickly change your outlook on everything.



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