Stuff. It’s just so cute, ya know?! And so fun to shop for!
And yet, it builds and grows so easily that it takes control over your space. Even deeper than that – purchasing stuff, without a true need for it, is unhealthy [not to mention, a step backwards in achieving financial freedom]. It is temporarily giving you a sense of happiness, but really masking something much deeper.
And so, I ask you this…do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you?! It’s time to get rid of some things to make space in your home physically. Only then can you make room in your mind + heart to simplify your life in other ways.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to start simplifying your life by decluttering it aka get rid of the stuff you don’t need. Now let’s get to it! Operation: Declutter is in full effect!
Make it fun, put on your favorite tunes, even grab a glass of wine if you want, and get to it! Ready to make some space in your home, mind + heart? [HECK YAH MAN!!]
Please note these steps are broken into sections, but it is quite likely that you have this clutter hiding in multiple rooms. I suggest you do this list item by item rather than room by room, to make sure each subject is fully complete before moving on to the next.
And don’t get overwhelmed, this IS a long list. Take it a step at a time, and use this handy dandy checklist for the short version. You got this!!!!
From The Bathroom etc
1. Makeup you never use
It’s the worst when you buy new makeup and end up not loving it, but that is not a reason to keep it. If you’ve had for years and you know it just isn’t good anymore…toss it. This includes old clumpy nail polishes.
2. Expired skincare + haircare + chomper care products
Old toothbrushes, that hair de-frizz serum that turned your hair into an oil puddle, face wash that turned your skin into a parched desert-like scene. You know what I’m taking about…toss them all.
Samples are so fun! Why don’t we ever use them though? Trust me, you never will. And who knows how old that sample is by now…time to get rid of them.
4. Old, stained + ragged towels
Bath. Beach. Hand + wash cloths. C’mon, your skin deserves a soft, fluffy towel. Oh, and definitely those old bath mats…especially if they get soaked regularly. I can only imagine what germs are living in that. *Eek*
From The Office etc
5. Piles of old mail
Go thru it quickly to make sure nothing important is there, but let’s hope there isn’t with how long it has been sitting in that pile heehee. Also, toss old take out menus, 99% of menus can be found online nowadays.
6. Old receipts + paperwork
This includes old coupons + manuals. You can find any manual online these days, and if you are concerned about selling the items someday and having the manual to offer [the way I used to], maybe you should sell it now? Why wait? If you must keep any of these, gather them all and keep them in one spot.
7. Old office supplies + technology things
Clean out that desk. Including empty pens, that super old white out, old phone chargers/cords, dead batteries, and go through all those thumb drives and save needed files only.
8. Old books
There are so many fabulous ways to read anything you want on the go these days. I get that you love the smell and the feel of holding a real book in your hands, though. Keep the ones you love, and read over & over again, the others can be donated.
From The Kitchen etc
9. Expired vitamins + meds
Throw those away stat. And if not expired, do you really need 3 half-full cough syrups? I don’t think so.
10. Expired food
Toss it all! Go through all cupboards, pantry areas, the fridge and the freezer. Check all condiments, discard those almost empty ones, duplicates, expired everything. Includes old alcohol that you know you will never use.
11. Shopping bags
In Southern California, where I live, we now have to bring bags to the market as retailers charge for plastic bags. I love this, but I tend to forget my reusable bag on the regular. Put a few in your car. Right this moment. And discard ALLLLL others. When are you ever going to need 18 at one time anyhow? [this goes for any boxes you were hanging on to as well]
12. Old kitchenware
Old dishes, silverware, those wooden spoons that are so old they probably have colonies of living organisms inside. Rusted pans. The things that you know you NEVER USE, including mismatched tubberware. Every drawer [even the infamous junk drawer]. #youcandoit
From The Bedroom etc
13. Worn out bras + choonies + swimwear
I really don’t know why we hang on to these. I am guilty too. But, dude, it is time to toss these for sure!
14. Holy socks Batman!
Okay, not holy, but socks WITH holes. Why? Why do we save stuff like this? And mismatched socks. I mean all washing machines need to be fed from time to time – I know yours eats socks too. Throw those pairless socks away!
15. Old ragged t-shirts
From events, bands, ummm high school clubs? I used to be extrememly guilty of this one. A great idea is to take all of these and make them into a quilt like my friend just did. Super cute, saved but downsized all on a nice warm blanket/quilt [I’m seriously so cold today, and I know I am a cold whimp, but a t-shirt blankey sounds lovely right now]. And if it isn’t worthy of being added to the quilt [ie promo shirts] then you really should discard it.
16. Old, ragged bags
Purses, Change purses. Wallets. Man bags. Makeup bags. Do it really quick…like a ripping off a bandaid. And while you’re at it, dump out your current purse and remove all that you don’t need. Put all the loose change in one jar.
17. Old jewelry
Tarnished and unmatched jewelry, even if it is your favorite and cost a ton of money, should go. You never wear it because you just can’t! There is no good reason to hang on to these.
18. Never-used accessories
Hair accessories, scarves, gloves, mittens, beanies, hats, belts, sunnies etc. Donate any you don’t use/haven’t used in an entire year. That means you went through 4 seasons without using them, you definitely do not need these things taking up your precious space.
19. Old + never worn shoes
I know. This one is hard. You’ve been through some great times together, but if they are worn, stained or you NEVER wear them because they hurt too bad to do so – time to part ways.
20. Old pillows + bedding
Yes, you may need them for guests someday. But, don’t you want the pillow you give your guest to be lump-free, drool-free and non-ancient? And those Rainbow Brite sheets from 2nd grade, although adorable, are not serving a purpose at all.
21. Old, worn, non-fitting clothing
If you lost weight, cheers to you! Get rid of those clothes you aren’t going to ever need again. If you gained some, no worries…when you lose it again you are going to want to celebrate your victory and buy new things anyways. So get rid of the things that don’t fit, have a stain that you swear you can try to remove, any holes, are worn out etc. Really, if you haven’t worn it in the past year, you don’t need it.
This includes the jackets, even though it was probably a pricey purchase originally. And old, broken unused hangers [like that wire one that is all bent from the dry cleaners with the plastic bag still attached] should be thrown away.
I wrote an article about simplifying your wardrobe and building a seasonal capsule wardrobe here.
A Quick Check In
How is it going so far? Making strides or barley moving? Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are running into issues.
- Have I used this in the past year? If no, you won’t miss it.
- Would I buy this today? If no, you don’t need it.
- What is the worst thing that could happen if I got rid of this?
- Why am I choosing to hold on to this instead of making space for myself?
- Is it sentimental? If yes, set it aside for now. We will revisit it in a step below.
- Do I just not want to waste money? I understand. If it is in good shape you can consider re-selling it. If it is not, just look at it as money well spent because you used it enough to wear it out and part ways with it happily.
- Am I only keeping it “in case” I need it someday? Should this fictional emergency situation actually come up, you just buy a new one then. Trust me, these situations hardly ever happen. Just remember that ‘just in case’ really means wasted space.
22. VHS tapes
I know, they have been a part of your life for a VERY long time. But when is the last time you really threw in a VHS to watch? And if you did, how was the sound and picture quality? It is time my friend. And if these are sentimental home videos then by all means get those converted to DVD/digital file. I went to Costco and had all my VHS and small video camcorder tapes converted to DVD. They can also be accessed digitally, forever safe & space-saving.
23. Old CD’s
Again, they bring back memories I get it. But if your car is newer than 2009ish I bet you have an auxillary cord option and can listen to music digitally to your heart’s content. Having any song aviable at your fingertips is a luxury of this digital age we live in, why not use it? If is a rare collection or a song you can’t get anywhere, maybe save that one – BUT otherwise invest a small amount of money to a monthly subscription on spotify, iTunes or Pandora [each have free options too] and get rid of some unnecessary clutter.
24. Wrapping paper + giftwrap scraps
I know it is a pain to buy this stuff new, but these piles in various spots aren’t worth saving.
25. Old magazines
I definitely am guilty of saving these! I went on a 48 state solo road trip a couple summers ago where I basically lived out of my car while exploring The Continental United States. I had an entire section of my Prius’ [her name is Priscilla] backseat that I called the ‘library’ because as I would cross a state line, I would go to the tourist office to chat with some peeps and get ideas of where to go. We’re talking like 3-10 newspapers, magazines, pamplets, flyers, bumper stickers etc per state! Combine all this with those travel magazines I hoard and you have found my decluttering weakness!
Let’s discard of all of these together! And you can read about my awesome, yet crazy road trip here.
26. Old phones + old phone cases
Yup. Not needed. Quick and simple.
27. DVDs that you don’t watch
I know this one is going to be a touchy subject for some, but hear me out. I used to have stacks and stacks and stacks of these. BUT then streaming movies & TV shows became available. I had a couple nights on my longer travel adventures where I just wanted to stay in, relax and throw in a movie [the longer you travel the more you start to revert back to your comfy habits from home, it’s surprising]. I simply bought what I wanted online and then own it forever in that invisible cloud.
When is the last time you really threw in a DVD? If you do this often, then part with only those you know you NEVER use.
28. Old toys + baby stuff
Yup. It’s definitely time for these to go. Give them away to a friend who is expecting or donate them if in good shape. These can cause clutter like no other.
29. Excess holiday stuff
This is another one that is really hard for some. Every year retailers come out with really cute new décor and every year you buy more. Hang onto things that are super meaningful from your childhood etc, but if you bought it just to fill the house and now it is literally filling your garage, perhaps it is time for a downsize.
30. Old craft supplies + leftovers
DIY project leftovers and art supplies you haven’t used in a year plus, don’t need to take up extra space in your home.
31. Various uneeded decor
Old candles with barely any wax left, flower vases collected over the years, knick knacks that no longer are your style or were only put out originally because they were a gift etc. You know all the stuff I’m talking about. Take a look around the entire house and ask yourself why you want to keep it. There’s probably a lot of opportunity to declutter from this category.
32. Revisit sentimental stuff
Are you sure you need those baby clothes from your 23 y.o. daughter? The trophies from your 18 y.o.’s little league? The cheesy souvenirs you brought home from the family trip 10 years ago? If you absolutely do, so be it. Put them all in one spot. Give yourself 1 bin and fill it with all the sentimental stuff you really want to keep and then store it in a safe place.
This includes photographs, journals, scrapbooks, heirlooms, letters, cards etc. I took an entire 6 bedroom house and have it now in 3 storage boxes when I lost my parents years ago. I have one bin for my dad, one for my mom, and one of my meaningful things. It took me years to get to that point, but I revisited these things regularly until I knew what was really important to keep.
I also took hundreds of photos of things. My mom saved everything, including all my elementary school paintings, baby clothes, awards etc [she’s so cute and loved me so so so much! ]. I took photos of all of them and then donated/threw away all of it. I backed the pics up on an external and now I have them forever! I would rather collect moments over things any day!
I can’t tell you how good it felt to know the memories were safe and sound but not taking away from my space any longer. I know you can do this! It might be a gradual process and that’s okay. And if you never get to this point, then this is the one category where you keep what you want – even if you don’t use it.
33. Really big items + furniture
Things that are mismatched and unnecessary can find a home elsewhere. Open up your space. It will feel so great. Let your space breathe. Get rid of the furniture and large bulky items you know you don’t love.
What The Heck Do I Do With This Old Stuff?
Idea 1: Throw It Away
Literally. Just toss it in the trash/recycle bin and call it a day. If something is damaged or ragged, most likely it qualifies as trash rather than donation worthy. Have a ton of trash? Rent a dumpster and get rid of it all at once! *BAM* Clutter be gone!
Idea 2: Donate It
I try to stay away from large donation center chains nowadays. I never knew just how enormous they were until recently, so now I choose to look up a local mom & pop type donation shops. And although it might be a bit more work lugging your stuff a few miles, it will end up going to someone who needs it and any profit will go to a keep a small biz open. [Just google your local thift store and see what their donation hours are and if they offer pickup]
Idea 3: Sell It On Craigslist
Some people don’t love Craigslist, but I am not one of them. I have sold sooooo much on it & met some really great people in the process. For large items that you just don’t want, place an ad as ‘free’ in exchange for someone picking up the item. It’s awesome.
Idea 4: Have A Garage Sale
Why not make some extra cash from your old stuff? Just know, that garage sales are quite a bit of work [making signs, prepping your things, starting SUPER early in the morning, haggling with people all day, and paying for a permit] BUT they can be really fun.
I join a group of friends once a year for one, and we hang out all day while hosting the sale & split any related fees. At the end, we take one carload of leftovers to the donation center and each keep our profits. Making it a family/friend event is much better!
Things To Do Digitally
These will take a bit more time. So, if needed, dedicate a couple of days to these – BUT work on each one until complete. Let’s simplify your life by decluttering it digitally!
34. Clean Your Email Boxes
Unsubscribe from all emails that you don’t even read [of course, your Amy Hates Carrots newsletter is NOT on that list right?!]. Delete all junk mail. Create a few folders and file away the emails that you need to save for reference. *sigh of relief* Doesn’t that feel great?
35. Organize Your Music Library
You know those songs that come up that you can’t stand? Delete them, and create some playlists you love in the meantime, so that you really can get rid of all the old CD’s mentioned above.
36. Tidy Up Your Cell Phone
Delete apps you don’t use. Delete old contacts, texts and photos that you don’t need. Delete those millions of screenshots you were saving for ideas, but never looked at again. Back up all the photos on your phone and then delete them for a clean start.
37. Cancel Auto Renewals
Delete any auto renewals that you don’t use for digital programs and/or apps. If you don’t even know what these are, make it a priority going forward to monitor these charges, and cancel as they come up. Please don’t think to yourself, ‘well I just paid for another year so I should just keep it’…because before you know it another year will have gone by without use. Auto renewals are genius money makers for this exact reason. Cancel. Cancel. Cancel.
Soooo, how did it go? Was it brutal or just super relieving to get rid of all of this stuff? I would love to hear about how it went, please let me know in the comments below. And if you didn’t get the free cheat sheet…Get it here.
I truly hope this created space in your home, life, heart, mind + soul. Cheers to taking this huge step to a life more simplified!