A few weeks ago I did a series about decluttering called “Cut Through Clutter.”
In the series, we explored the psychology behind clutter, books about decluttering, four cleaning tips, six rules for getting rid of clutter, and finally motivation for decluttering.
But, there’s a lot more to decluttering than that series and as we head into a new year maybe getting organized and decluttering is your New Year’s resolution.
And getting organized is often one of the top most common New Year’s resolutions.
So how do you really get started with decluttering and getting organized if you haven’t been motivated to do so before?
Chances are the reason behind your hesitation is feeling overwhelmed or just not knowing where to start.
It’s your decluttering mindset that is holding you back.
And that can trip anyone up on the road to organization.
When you find yourself stuck in a pattern of avoidance, the best method to change that is to start with small tasks.
So, going into this new year, I want you to focus on how you can change your decluttering mindset with some tiny actions for getting organized you can start doing right away.
Clear Just One Surface
Maybe start with your kitchen table.
Seriously, that’s it.
If that’s too overwhelming, choose a segment of a countertop in your kitchen and clean that off completely.
Whatever surface you pick, make sure it’s one you see daily and keep it spotless.
Empty a Shelf
I said to start tiny…I really meant it!
Now that you have a surface cleared in your kitchen that you will see every day to provide you with motivation, you can move on to another small task to change your decluttering mindset.
Empty just one shelf.
Yep, just one…that’s it.
I don’t mean just empty the shelf and leave it empty either. I mean clean it off and organize it.
Eventually, you can move on to another shelf and another one, and at some point, you will have cleaned and organized your entire shelving unit.
In the process, you will have changed your decluttering mindset and you might not even feel like you were decluttering at all (even though you actually were!).
Because that’s the goal of this process, declutter one small thing and work to permanently change your mindset about decluttering.
Designate a Paper Zone
I swear, nothing accumulates and gets out of control like papers.
To mitigate this, designate an area as a catchall for your paperwork, and always place new papers in that tray or box.
Don’t just do it sometimes. Do it all the time. Every piece of paper goes in that designated paper zone.
Then make a plan to go through it once a week (or even just once a month if once a week is too much for you).
Whatever you do, change your decluttering mindset when it comes to paper. Make a zone for it and make sure everything goes there.
Then you can place it in its proper home after the bills are paid or you’ve documented or digitized the artwork your child brought home.
Find a Home for 5 Things
We all have a few items that never seem to get put away.
So with this course of action, you are going to change that.
Carefully choose your five most commonly left-out items, and find special places to store them.
Shoes are a common problem in my house.
Or, phone chargers/cords.
Backpacks and lunchboxes can be another one for many families.
Basically anything of that nature that is used every day, but still needs a “home.”
Find a place for those things to go.
Make a space or find a solution so you can keep them out, but tucked away somehow or at the very least organized.
Consider a charging station or get a pretty shoe basket (my mom always had a shoe basket for each of us growing up…I now understand why!).
I have always wanted an entry bench with storage, but have never had the space for it (hopefully one day!). But, maybe you do have space for something like that.
Whatever five things you or your family always seem to leave out, figure out a way to give them a home so they aren’t just lying about anymore.
Change Your Decluttering Mindset by Choosing Three Pieces of Clothing Each Day to Donate
Clothes are often the worst to declutter.
There might be sentimental value when it comes to clothes…or ones that you will “fit into someday again” (I’m totally guilty of that).
For clothing, though, don’t look at your whole closet and try to pair down things. It will feel overwhelming and impossible.
Instead, change your decluttering mindset when it comes to clothes and for one week, choose just three pieces to give away each morning while you are getting ready.
By the end of the week, you should have 21 pieces of clothing to donate!
When you break down what seems like an impossible task (cleaning out your closet and getting rid of some clothes) into an easy and manageable approach, it doesn’t seem so impossible anymore.
Dump and Organize One Drawer
Pick just one drawer in your home to declutter.
Your kitchen junk drawer.
A dresser drawer.
A drawer in the office or maybe your bedside table drawer.
Just one drawer.
Then dump it out. The whole drawer. Everything in it.
This lets you see everything at a glance and makes the sorting process easier.
Clean it up and get rid of any broken pens or pieces of paper you don’t need. Twist ties. Jewelry.
Whatever is in the drawer that you don’t need just toss it or put it away where it actually belongs.
Then put the drawer back together neat and organized.
Consider some type of drawer organizer if it’s your junk drawer or a drawer in your kitchen.
Organize Your Medicines
Medicine, bandages, and other health supplies should be kept together.
Not only does this keep things organized, but it’s also just smart practice in case of an emergency.
You know where to go if someone needs a bandaid or allergy medicine.
Tackle just your medicine cabinet (if it’s anything like mine, it is probably overflowing with expired cough drops and an assortment of bandages strewn about).
Take everything out and sort through it all.
Be sure you properly dispose of any old or unused medications.
Take inventory of what things you may need to stock up on again.
Then create a neat and tidy place to keep the up-to-date items you use most regularly. And, make sure others in the house know where the medical supplies are and how to store them too.
When others know where things go and put them back in their proper place, it keeps everything neat and organized.
Create a Simple File System
Remember that paper zone we talked about above?
Soon it will overflow.
Even if you keep up with sorting through your designated paper spot once a week, you need to have a place to permanently keep the paperwork that is important (like pay stubs or bank statements).
Designate just a few file folders or boxes to hold your most common categories of paperwork.
Then sort through the documents in your designated paper area to file them quickly in their place.
I recommend using some type of drawer in a desk or home office area where you can organize and store all your important paperwork in one place.
Even a simple expanding file folder is a great way to categorize and organize papers.
Actually Take Stuff to the Car!
Once you have a few of the tiny tasks detailed above well underway, you’ll likely end up with a sizeable amount of stuff to donate (especially if you’ve tackled your clothes).
Don’t let things sit around and accumulate more.
Take that bag or box you’ve set aside to donate out to your car to deliver to the local thrift shop, Goodwill, Salvation Army, or wherever you are planning to take it.
But, actually put it in the car!
Don’t just set it in a closet or in the hallway. You need to take it to the car and actually get rid of the items.
Once you’ve tackled those small actionable steps above, you will be well on your way to a successful decluttering journey.
So, now it’s time to keep going!
To help you with that, I’ve got a list of 50 easy items to toss or donate on your decluttering journey!
50 Easy Items to Toss or Donate on Your Decluttering Journey and Change Your Decluttering Mindset!
It’s natural to develop a certain attachment to your possessions, and it can seem wasteful to give away something you’ve hardly used or something you spent money on.
But, believe it or not, there are some things that really aren’t that difficult to part with.
Start with this list of 50 easy items to toss or donate on your decluttering journey, and you’ll soon be paring down things like a pro!
- Junk mail
- Broken or ugly jewelry
- Earings without a mate
- Old calendars (seriously, just toss 2020 in the trash if you haven’t already…)
- Duplicates of anything (paperwork, magazines)
- Nearly empty perfume bottles (I know your trying to get every last drop, but just toss it)
- Old makeup (did you know things like liquid eyeliner and mascara you should toss after three months!?)
- Outgrown toys or games your kids never play with anymore
- Holey socks (or socks with no pairs…must have gone to a house elf!)
- Empty boxes from electronics or small appliances
- Unused or used paint (make sure to properly dispose of paint like latex paint using cat litter)
- Kids’ clothes that no longer fit
- Non-perishable food items you haven’t eaten (if they are expired through them out and if you won’t ever eat something take it to a food bank)
- Excess shopping bags
- Outdated holiday ornaments
- Broken laptops or devices you’ve been “meaning to fix”
- “Extra” blankets (you probably don’t need 10 couch blankets…)
- Old trophies or memorabilia you no longer value
- That collection of buttons you never sewed back on
- Unnecessary receipts
- Unused or old spices
- Accessories for hobbies you no longer pursue
- Frozen foods past their use-by dates
- Stretched-out undergarments
- Vacation souvenirs you never look at
- Purses or wallets you never use anymore
- Instruction manuals for items you no longer own
- Craft supplies for projects never begun or completed
- Pens that don’t work
- Beauty products that don’t suit you or made you break out
- Stuff that’s been in your junk drawer forever
- The clutter at the bottom of your purse or diaper bag
- Pantyhose or tights with runs
- Gifts you never liked in the first place (it’s okay to get rid of that ugly Christmas ornament Aunt Sally got you five years ago…)
- Anything you forgot you even had
- Pet supplies from animals that have passed
- Chipped/cracked dishware or cookware (if it’s something you use regularly, just replace it)
- Home decor that no longer matches your home
- Games with missing pieces
- Puzzles with missing pieces
- Books you didn’t like
- Expired medicines
- Electronics chargers without a device
- Excess or mismatched glassware
- Toys from fast-food children’s meals
- Videos you no longer watch (especially anything that is on VHS and not a collector’s item…it’s pretty much worthless now)
- Kitchen gadgets you don’t use (think like your sandwich press or maybe an ice cream maker…how often do you really use that stuff?)
- Scraps of wrapping paper
- Swimwear with snags
- Sheets with holes/tears/stains
See? There are lots of things you can discard or donate easily with little to no stress.
Taking small decluttering steps is a lot easier than people think and those small actions help reshape your decluttering mindset.
So don’t put off decluttering or getting organized any longer in the new year!
What is your mindset toward decluttering? Do you find it hard or easy? What are some things that you have found easy to get rid of?
17 thoughts on “Start the New Year Right and Easily Change Your Decluttering Mindset”
I love this post about decluttering and getting organized. What I appreciate most is that your suggestions are easy and doable like emptying one drawer or getting rid of old medicines. Oftentimes we get overwhelmed when we have to clean/organize our household but your step-by-step guide is essential for decluttering!
Definitely in declutter mode right now, thanks for the great post!
These are all great ideas! I always forget to take my recycled items to the car. That’s my worst habit but I love the way you have everything laid out. It seems so perfect. I wish I could be this organized to.
Thank you for the motivational post. You have some great tips for someone that may be having a difficult time getting started on decluttering. It’s amazing how removing clutter physically affects us psychologically. I am a big fan of having a home for many things to maintain organization and sanity! I’ve added a few of your tips to my list of decluttering goals for the new year.
So glad this list was helpful for you Danielle! It is amazing how removing clutter and organizing things can help us mentally. I wish you the best of luck in your decluttering goals for the new year.
I had no idea that you should get rid of liquid eye liner after 3 months! Thanks for sharing this list and all these tips!!
I know I had no idea about that either! I got rid of some old ones after learning that though!
Totally agree that the new year is a great time to declutter and start the year right, feeling lighter! And starting small such as the kitchen table is a really good idea.
Yes the new year is a great time to start decluttering!
What a good idea of starting a new year with a clean organized house, thanks for sharing.
It’s really amazing what it can do for your mood when you declutter and organize your home!
This is such a great idea for starting small when the task of decluttering can seem overwhelming!
Yes, that’s always key with decluttering I think: start small! It tends to have a snowball effect once you get going.
Love this post! So many great tips for getting organized and reducing clutter. My favorite tips that you shared are to make sure everything has a home and create a paper station where all paperwork lives until ready to be dealt with or filed away. These two things alone have helped me keep our home (mostly!) clutter-free all year long. These tips really work! Thank you for sharing!!
Thanks so much for reading Heather! I find that making sure things have a home is really helpful. Especially when it comes to kid’s toys. When they know where something goes they are more likely to pick it up and put it away when you ask them.
I always like starting the new year off with a clean house! Thanks for the tips and motivation to get an early start!
I agree Brooke! A lot of people look at the Spring as a time to declutter and clean, but the New Year is another perfect time to start the process.