All Things Decluttering

Clutter.  We all have it.  We all have to deal with it.


Easy Ways to Declutter on the Daily

First, keep it simple (I bet you knew I was going to say that!)

  • Have a few designated places around the house for things you no longer need that can be donated.  
  • Use paper shopping bags to make the donation process quick and easy.  Drop in the item to donate (take a picture first if you will be itemizing deductions), then once the bag is full, drop it off at the donation center of your choice.
  • Open your mail every day.  Get rid of junk mail immediately.  Keep it simple by having everything you need to be successful at or near where you open and sort your mail.  
  • In the kitchen, designate a container (a basket, shopping bag, fabric bin, etc.) Take a quick look when you open a kitchen drawer.  See something you haven't used on ages, or maybe ever?  Have a spare minute or two while water is boiling on the stove? 
  • If corralling the trash in your car is a constant struggle, consider putting a small, plastic bathroom size trash can on the floorboard of the backseat.  Line it with a plastic shopping bag and it's easy to empty the trash when full (and the plastic bag will keep things from spilling out - as long as there isn't a hole in the bag.  
  • If you find your dining table bombarded with junk every evening, take a picture of it, make a list of what accumulates there so that you can figure out what solution(s) you need.


How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

Decluttering isn't always easy.  Sentimental items can be especially tricky.  So are items that set us back a pretty penny, things that are still useful even though we don't use them, and things that were given as gifts.  

Questions to ask when letting go is hard. (Managing your own objections)

When was the last time I used this?

Do I like using it?

Does it make my life easier?

Do I have a place to store it?

Is it functional, or is it broken or need repair?

Things to keep in mind

It your objection/hesitation is that it was expensive, remember that the money you spent is gone.  If you don't use, want, or love the item, it's still costing you in storage space.  And in many houses, storage space is a valuable commodity.  

If your objection/hesitation is that the items was a gift, turn this thought around.  When you give someone a gift do you expect them to keep it forever?  Items come and go in our lives.  It truly is the thought that counts.  It's okay to let gifts go.  


Good candidates for the donation pile:

  • gently used clothing
  • shoes in good condition
  • Purses and handbags
  • household items in good working condition
  • Books, movies, and music
  • Toys
  • Home decor
  • Furniture in good condition (Note - Many places have restrictions on accepting large pieces of furniture.  Call the donation center before loading up your furniture to save yourself what could be a huge hassle.)


There are lots of items besides paper and plastic that can be recycled. is a good resource to find out what can be recycled, and even includes area search feature so that you can find where to recycle specific items near you.


If it's not a good candidate to donate, and it can't be recycled, it's time to toss it.  One important note, though - hazardous materials usually can't be thrown in the trash.  However, many municipalities offer certain days of the year that such materials can be discarded. 

Considering a yard sale?  

They can be a great way to get rid of some of the excess from  your home and make a few bucks, too.  They can also be a lot of work without a big return on your investment of time and energy.  

If a yard sale is on your agenda, here are some tips to help make it successful.

Start planning early.

The sooner you start planning, the more time you will have to advertise your sale, and that is important.  After all, the goal is to get people to your sale so they can check out your treasures.  Preparing for a yard sale can wreak havoc on your home.  Designate a space for sorting and pricing, and if possible, try to keep similar items together as you go through the process.  This will make set-up on sale day much more efficient.

Keep your pricing simple.

Price items for no less than .50 and price in .50 increments.  That way, you eliminate the need for nickels and dimes.  It also makes it easier to calculate a shopper's total and how much change to give.  If you are not sure how much to charge for your items, a quick Google search can help.  

Choose an easy pricing method.

Whether it's masking tape and a Sharpie, colorful dot stickers, or paper tags with string, make sure you have plenty of pricing supplies, and that the method you choose will stay attached to your items.

Price everything.

Shoppers don't want to have to ask for prices, and if you have a crowd. you may not have time to answer each pricing question.  Likewise, I don't recommend using a color coded system instead of putting prices directly on items.  You don't want people to have to constantly refer to a chart to know the cost.  One solution would be to price by category, while still keeping it simple.  For example, if you have a lot of books, consider pricing all hardbacks at a specific price and all paperbacks at another.  Make a sign for the book table that shows the prices.  You can always add the disclaimer "unless otherwise marked" in the event you want to price a few higher or lower.

Be prepared to negotiate.

Mark any items you are unwilling to negotiate on as "firm".  An hour or two before your sale ends, consider slashing prices.  The easiest way to do this is to simply let shoppers know as you welcome them to your sale that all remaining items are 1/2 price.  You can also make a sign for your checkout table informing people of the lower prices.

Be prepared for early birds.

The early bird gets the worm, as the saying goes, and you will often have folks stop by before your advertised starting time.  Politely let them know that your sale hasn't officially started and not everything is out, but let them go ahead and browse.  After all, the goal is to sell your items.  

Research items you suspect could be of value.

If you have some items you suspect could be worth some money, do your homework to determine how much to ask. You might decide that a yard sale isn't the right venue to sell certain things.

Spread the word.

Make and post signs advertising your sale a day or two before the sale.  Keep it brief, but make sure it includes the date and time of the sale and your address.  Don't forget to take your signs down after the sale.  Facebook is another great place to announce your sale, and as a bonus, you can include pictures and descriptions of what you are selling.  The classifieds section of print and online news sources can also be a great place to advertise.

Make it shopper-friendly.

As you set-up, be sure to leave plenty of room for people to move among the tables.  If possible, hang clothes.  It saves space, makes browsing easier, and eliminates the need for constant folding.  If you are selling electronics, have an extension cord handy so your customers can try them out.

Clean up quickly.

Place cardboard boxes under table to make clean up fast.  Once the remaining items are boxed up, take them to a donation center.