Declutter! Yes You Can, DIY

What is clutter? Clutter is anything you keep around that doesn’t add value to your life. Think of decluttering like making room in your home for things that matter. According to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) – yes, this is a thing and my wife needs to be on their Board of Directors – nearly 65% of Americans feel their home is at least somewhat disorganized.

It’s true that my wife is a clean freak, so I have become a clean freak too. But with a dog and toddler at toe it’s hard to keep the house in order. When it gets real bad we find ourselves wasting inordinate amounts of time looking for things we can’t find – like the lost Paw Patrol or Disney Princess figurine, or shoe. It takes real motivation to truly declutter and get organized. Each Spring we commit a weekend to do just this.

Here are four steps for decluttering your house without losing your mind.


  1. Start with a game plan – Write down or make a map of all rooms and clutter hot-spots you want to tackle. Then prioritize the spaces on a scale of 1-3 (3 being the worst). Tackle the worst first. Also, don’t forget to plan to occupy the kids by dropping them off at a playdate or grandma’s house while you focus!
  2. Have “fun” – Do one room or space at a time. Blare your favorite music while you “work.” Take a break and reward yourself with lunch, a cold beverage or sweets. Reassess, then dive back in. My wife and I are competitive so we also like to see who can finish a project the fastest – whatever works to motivate you!
  3. Be organized from the beginning – Create a sorting system. We like the “three box” method:
    • Box 1 = Keep. See “stick to you guns” below.
    • Box 2 = Get rid of it. This includes recyclables, things to giveaway, donate or designate for a future garage sale. Sometimes we put old toys in a pile that we know our daughter has outgrown and then later let her participate in donating them to a local charity. Something about this motivates us to really assess what she needs versus toys she can live without and give to a better home.
    • Box 3 = Storage. Keep in mind the realistic amount of storage that you have in your home. Our home has zero storage space and small closets so the goal is to keep this pile very small.
  4. Stick to your guns – Help each other commit to getting rid of the junk. Ask each other these questions: Does it fit? Have you worn it or used it in a year? Do you really love it? Could you live without it? Keep to the 80/20 rule for clothes. When it comes to clothes, we generally only wear 20 percent of the clothes we own 80 percent of the time. This holds true for other things like videos, toys and games. With this in mind, we started to pack away a set of games and toys, and then rotate them out every three months so they seem “new” to the family.

Purging and decluttering really does leave you feeling productive and more in control. It’s worth the time and effort! What ways do you organize or declutter?  Let me know what works for you in comments.

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