View Full Version : Decluttering tips from the Joy of Less - to help give those in the decluttering challenge a kick in the pants

07-27-2011, 05:01:42 AM

Seems we need a kick in the pants to get re-started,
so here are some notes to stir up interest
and get the thread moving towards our goals

Empty rooms completely and start over. Only leave furniture waaaay to big to move like your bed.

Separate items into 4 piles:
transfer (be generous)
temporarily undecided

Question each "treasure" item.

Make sure *every* item has a specific place where it goes.

Make sure all surfaces and floors are clean.

Break each room into zones and each zone into :
inner circle
outer circle
deep storage

Store "deep storage" items in transparent boxes with labels.

Set limits and stick with them.

One item in = one item out.

Narrow it down- choose multi functional items where possible.

Maintenance- guard against clutter coming back in again.

Stay organized and keep clean.

Ask yourself these questions about each item:

Is this useful, beautiful or emotonal?

If useful, are you actually using it? Can I consolidate or use something else instead? Can I pare it back?

If beautiful, do we still love it as much as we did when we bought it? is it prominently displayed? Would I replace it if it was lost or broken?

If emotional, do I have this because it impresses other people or because it indulges my fantasy self?

Realize that everything you own, is chained to you.

Can I get the same results with less?

Why do I have these?
Holiday decorations- can we still have a warm & happy holiday without them?
Camping- can we still be together and enjoy each others company another way?
Exercise equipment- can I walk, garden or play with the kids etc... instead?

Can I enjoy this somewhere else, without having to own it?

Would I still have "enough" without having to own this?

Have I used this in the past year?

Will I use it in the near future?

Does it make my life easier, or more beautiful? How? Do I have something similar?

Is it hard to maintain or clean? Is it worth it?

Would I take it with me if I was moving?

How would my life change if I didn't own it?

What is more valuable to me, the item or the space it occupies?

We use 80% of our belongings 20% of the time. Figure out your 20% and you won't even miss the rest.

07-27-2011, 05:06:54 AM
The house broken down into 6 weeks.

"DAYS 1-7

1- current clothes, list needs

2- stored clothes, label boxes correctly

3- shoes

4- winter gear

5- diapers & toiletries

6- other baby stuff

7- bathroom (towels, washrags, toiletries)

DAYS 8-14

8- Kitchen dishes- (plates, glasses/cups, soup bowls, flatware)

9- baking dishes/pans-

10- pots-

11- mixing bowls/baking misc.-

12- small/large appliances-

13- storage containers-

14- cookbooks & kitchen towels

DAYS 15-21

15- tablecloths, napkins & candles

16- linen closet-

17- laundry room-

18- machines (sewing/serger/snap press etc...)

19- fabric-

20- patterns & thread

21- notions-

DAYS 22-28

22- craft supplies-

23- sewing & craft books

24- magazines-

25- movies-

26- books-

27- tapes & CD's (including computer softwear)

28- Games-

DAYS 29-35

29- Homeschool books

30- Homeschool supplies (including art)

31- preschool learning stuff-

32- outdoor/swimming/camping stuff

33- backpacks-

34- memory things (photos/scrapbooking)

35- decorations (regular and seasonal)

DAYS 36-42

36- office papers/bills

37- office equip./supplies & shipping supplies

38- toys-

39- pantry foodstuffs

40- pantry canning supplies

41- pantry gardening stuff

42- furniture

For me, the hardest part has been accepting that I paid good money for things and don't need them. I'm coming to a place where I value space and simplicity more than the fact that the things I have are "worth something"."

"Here are the maximums I set before starting, that I felt like we needed. Then when I went through things, I forced myself to comply. LOL It is easier to do it ahead of time when you aren't looking at the items and feeling sentimental.


7 everyday outfits (kid/adult)
10 everyday outfits (babies/toddlers not potty trained)
3 prs. PJ's
4 meeting outfits/socks
3 everyday socks
7 prs. underwear


3 prs. (dress, seasonal play & town)


1 heavy hooded coat
1 light jacket/sweater
1 hat
1 pr. gloves


diapers- 1-2 dozen per size, depending on how many dipes they go through per day
covers- 7 per size
wipes- 2 dozen

baby blankets- 4
carriers- 1 infant/1 toddler
cradle/bed- 1
Bedding-1 set (mattress/sheepskin etc...quilt/blanket)
toiletries- 2 each (diaper cream, soap, shampoo, oil)


dishes- 1 set everyday. There are 10 of use, so I keep 12 cups, plates, bowls and a little more flatware.
small appliances- Vita Mix, Kitchen Aid Mixer, hand mixer, crock pot, yogurt make, tortilla maker, pasta maker. We use these all frequently.
large appliances- 1 fridge, 1 stove, 1 freezer.
pots- 3 large soup pots, 2 small pots.
pans- 2 cake, 2 pizza, 2 cookie, 4 bread loaf pans, 4 muffin, 2 pie. I kept what I actually put into the oven at once. Also 2 cookie cooling racks.
mixing bowls- 4 various sized.
storage containers- 6 various sizes.
cookbooks- 12
kitchen towels- Approx. 24. We don't buy paper towels and go through these at an amazing rate. LOL

PANTRY: (this will really vary by family size/preferences etc...)

Canning supplies, only what I really need.
Emergency supplies
Bulk foods
Extra food, toiletries stock ups


table cloths- 2 high quality
cloth napkins- 2 meals worth


towels- 1 per person
wash rags- 2 per person
toiletries- soaps, shampoos/conditioner combos, deoderant, body spray etc... 2 each.


guest towels- 2 sets w/ new soaps
2 extra guest pillows
1 blanket per bed
sheets- 2 sets per bed
quilts/bedspreads- 1 per bed


Homemade cleaners- 1 each (all-purpose, window-vinegar/water, 2 stain removers, clothes detergent, wall cleaner sponges, scrub powder-soda/salt)


I only kept things I *knew* I'd use within 6 months.
sewing machine- 1
serger- 1
snap press- 1
craft supplies-
sewing/craft books-


Top favorites that we can't get at the library or things that just really ad to our lives by being available.


I only keep things that my children regularly play with and really love.


8 favorites. We play a lot of games.


1 tent
1 swimming suit each
1 life jacket for each non-swimmer
A few water balls etc... to share
1 sleeping bag for each person


Books- 3 per subject if they are *really* good.
Supplies- paper, pencils/pens, art supplies.
Preschool learning stuff- 12 total activities to share (puzzles etc...)

OFFICE: Kept only what I'll use up in 6 months.

papers- Only what is absolutely necessary.
bills- I keep all current bills in one drawer and all past bills that I need to keep in a basket.
office equip.- 1 hole puncher, 1 3 hole puncher, 1 stapler, 1 scissors. 1 computer set up.
office supplies- computer paper, labels, stamps.
shipping supplies- Small assortment of boxes and packing tape.


We keep one per person from age 3+. In it we store emergency blankets, water, easy food, fire starters, extra clothes etc.. The older the kids, the more they can carry, so we add other necessities, more food etc... These are updated each year and kept easy to grab in case of an emergency, I.E., natural disaster or terrorists etc...


I kept the absolute best photo shots, several tools and paper/stickers that I will use up within 6 months.


regular- only kept items that truly add beauty in our lives.
seasonal- 1 dozen extra items that celebrate the season, like a table cloth, wreath etc...


I am a minimalist and like to keep furniture to real necessities or just really special pieces.

Bedrooms- bed, dresser each though younger kids share, desk/chair or book shelf, cradle in master bedroom.
Living room- couch, love seat, 2 chairs, 1 end table. (remember our family has 10 people)
Bathrooms- have no "furniture" except a drying rack in one.
Kitchen- large set of shelves outside of normal counters, appliances.
Dining room- table/bench combo, small table for homeschooling items in use and rocking chair for me to sit during homeschooling, computer desk/chair, high chair.
Sewing room- cutting table, shelves, serger and sewing desks/chair."

07-28-2011, 06:31:16 PM
Awesome! :biggrin:

07-29-2011, 07:01:01 AM
Awesome! :biggrin:


But overwhelming
if not broken down
in itty-bitty steps :whistle67:

07-29-2011, 07:59:49 AM
Great list - I could never pare down this low but I like the idea of focusing on something every day! But 3 pairs of shoes is NEVER happening to me. I take three pairs to work some days (flip flops to drive and run out for lunch, heels to wear to look professional at the office, sneakers if I plan to work out at the gym).

08-04-2011, 12:28:04 AM
Great job -
love the daily schedule

Couldn't pare down this much
- but we are paring down AGAIN
Mainly clothes and stuff.
Seems like the clutter just jumps up on us.

So, What are you doing with all the excess?

08-04-2011, 04:15:05 AM
So, What are you doing with all the excess?

In my area is a food pantry
and a Women's Shelter
so I ask them specifically what items they are looking for then that helps to focus.
It feels wonderful to know that items just laying around may have use to someone else.

Another focal point is to join groups that have already started a collection,
such as churches.
One local church had a clothes donation for victims of recent storms.
Another churches youth group was part of a national effort to collect a certain weight of clothes (teen challenge, I believe)
A VBS collected non-perishable foods rather than a monetary 'offering'. The kids loved to see the boxes fill up each day, as more and more was collected. (I got to offload LOTS of that Ronzoni here)
There is a local volunteer group that accepts and even comes to pick up used furniture and appliances then turns around and gives them to needy families in the area.

Lots of opportunity to give back!
I hope that gives you some ideas and motivation :smile:

08-04-2011, 08:40:41 AM
Cody, you are so sweet! Thank you for the list. Our house is fairly bare already but I still have a few areas to work on. And papers...Lots and lots of papers!!! By the way, how do you count papers, bills etc. for the challenge?

08-04-2011, 09:09:13 AM
Cody, you are so sweet! Thank you for the list. Our house is fairly bare already but I still have a few areas to work on. And papers...Lots and lots of papers!!! By the way, how do you count papers, bills etc. for the challenge?

for me, if I clean out a junk drawer, I count that as one.
If I clear off a countertop, I count that as one


08-10-2011, 09:07:52 AM
I think I'm going to print your list off to give me more motivation. I have been in a major decluttering mood but some of the stuff that I need to keep I just don't know where to put. I haven't found a home for it yet. But maybe by decluttering, then a home will open up. I plan on having another garage sale this fall to get rid of more stuff. I have donated some unsold items to the Crisis Center (battered women's shelter) and to our local recycling center (they take donated clothes to the Indian reservations).

07-27-2012, 12:19:24 AM

07-31-2012, 07:36:12 AM
Thanks cody for bumping this! I just created my own list from the tips on here and I'm in a huge decluttering mode right now. It's hard to do in my house though since I have so much inventory for my eBay sales, but I'm working around that and even organizing that as I go.

08-01-2012, 01:49:51 AM
every little step helps make life a bit less hectic!

Keep it up!!

09-20-2012, 06:39:10 AM

10-12-2012, 10:46:18 PM