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You Don’t Need Everything | How To Declutter For Good

How to Declutter

I needed to declutter because…

When I sold my house and downsized into a relatively small apartment, I was forced to accept the fact that I had way too much stuff.  Stuff I didn’t need or care about, stuff that nobody ever would need, and stuff I had wasted a ton of money on.  I didn’t just declutter.  I went to war with my possessions.

Since my cash buyer wanted to close in only 10 days, I had no time to recoup my losses by having a yard sale or putting my things on eBay.  I didn’t have time to sort items for donation or rehome stuff with family and friends. That was actually a good thing.


The things I got rid of…

I put a third of the items I owned in trash bags at the curb.  The things that I got rid of hardly mattered to me.  I cried my eyes out, not because I was sad, but because I was so mad at myself for being so stupid with my money.  Then I laughed at my neighbors who were stealing my garbage.  Suckers.  Now my clutter was theirs.

I tossed out my collection of Renaissance Festival steins.  Those things cost $65 each and I had more than 10 of them.  They were unused.  I got rid of picture frames that never had any pictures in them. They had been purchased because I had this silly idea that I would hang up pictures someday.  I lived in that house for 6 years and never hung up anything.  To this day, the only wall decorations we have were selected and hung by my husband.  They look really nice, btw.

I kept going because my stuff was endless.

Craft supplies.  Hah.  I had so many supplies for hobbies that I don’t actually have.  Art supplies, jewelry supplies, candle and soap making supplies. I also had a TON of useless furnishings. Accent tables for areas that didn’t need accentuation, end tables with no end to be near, extra lamps, and a giant recliner that nobody sat in because it didn’t face the television.

I had convinced myself that I wanted to craft and be a decorating diva.  As I was throwing all my stuff away, I realized that I don’t actually care about crafting or decorating. I blame Pinterest.  And myself, of course. All of that stuff went straight to the garbage. What a waste. I started behaving myself after I moved and I stopped buying things that I didn’t need.  Lesson learned.


Do’s and Don’ts.

There is really only one do. Stop buying stuff.  You have enough stuff.  You don’t need everything you have.  If you did, you wouldn’t be reading this and you wouldn’t need to declutter. For now, don’t buy anything you can’t eat.

Don’t donate anything.

Many people will tell you that you need to sort your items for donation.  That sounds like a good idea. I say screw that because you need this stuff out of your life right now. If you put something in a box to donate, it is going to end up back in your closet, and that box will mock you while it collects dust. Black trash bags are best because it isn’t obvious what is in them.  You will be less likely to change your mind about tossing things you can’t see.

Don’t sell anything, either.

Some will say that you should sell your items.  Don’t do it.  Trying to sell things will distract you from what you really need to do. If you put something aside for sale, then you have to actually go about selling it.  You could have a yard sale or post items online somewhere, but then you have to deal with people who might want to buy from you.  Do you really want to do all that?  You don’t really want strangers coming to your home to pick up that table, do you?  If you sell online, you have to waste time – time that you could be using to declutter like a badass – standing in line at the post office. Is that what you want?

Nope, you want to declutter your living area and selling your items will take too much effort to be worth it.  Yes, losing out on all that potential cash is a bummer, but if you have too much stuff, you probably don’t have an income problem.  My guess is that you have a spending problem. It’s okay to cry while you cram stuff into bags. Just breathe through it and you’ll be fine. Keep reading to learn how to decide what to get rid of.  We’re almost done.


Do you need it?

I mean REALLY need it. You need some cute underwear.  If you have a vagina, and if that vagina sometimes bleeds, you also need some comfortable period-panties.  You don’t need undies with stains and holes.  Clothing that doesn’t fit you right now has to go.  So what if it might fit you in the future?  Right now, you don’t need it. Right now, it is clutter. Duplicate items have to go, as well. No, you don’t need three black pencil skirts.  You might not even need one black pencil skirt.  I am the proud owner of exactly zero pencil skirts, btw.

Does it serve a purpose?

An actual purpose, other than being decorative? Remember the accent tables? I had one near my front door that was always in the way.  It was a flat surface that existed only to collect dust and clutter and I hated it.  Lots of people have a table in their entryway, so I thought I needed it.  I did not. Nobody needs an entryway accent table.  I hurt my back dragging that thing to the street.  The only thing that kept me from smashing it into a thousand pieces with a hammer was my fear that someone might think I was deranged and call the police. I kept my kitchen table because it serves the purpose of being a place where it is okay to spill things.

Do you love it?

Love is not the same thing as like and I tossed a million things that I liked. You should, too.  I kept things I loved, like the art project my daughter made in high school. She won a prize for it. I kept another project that my other daughter made in high school, too.  It didn’t win a prize, but it should have won because it is awesome. I did not keep things my kids had made that were not gifts to me or did not have great sentimental value.  Let’s be real, every crayon drawing does not have great sentimental value. Some of them do.  You can keep some of those but not all of them.


Don’t feel bad.

I know this all seems terribly wasteful.  You think that throwing away stuff that could be sold is just throwing good money after bad.  That is exactly what it is. You feel like not donating items that others could use is uncharitable. That is very true.  Do it anyway.  I promise you will only have to do this once.


Here are the steps in TL;DR format:

  • Don’t buy anything that isn’t food.
  • Throw away EVERYTHING that you don’t need.
  • Toss EVERYTHING that isn’t useful.
  • Get rid of EVERYTHING that you don’t love.
  • Don’t bother to donate or sell things.
  • Enjoy your decluttered living area.

Related: Resolutions You Need Now + How To Make Them Stick

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