The Declutter Session

By Leo Babauta

This week, we’ll spend a bit of time decluttering — for some of you, this will be taking bite-sized chunks out of a mountain of clutter, and for others this will be revisiting areas you’ve already decluttered recently.

For those of you just getting started with decluttering, don’t despair: you’ll take it a little at a time, and while you won’t be able to do everything in a week, you’ll at least start making progress, and in fact getting started is often the hardest part. You can always continue for the rest of the month or schedule regular decluttering sessions each week for the rest of the year, tackling things a little at a time.

For those of you who decluttered earlier this summer, don’t worry: you’ll find other areas you still haven’t decluttered, or areas you’ve already done that need to be revisited. That’s normal and part of the decluttering process — it’s ongoing, because clutter comes from all over the place.

So each day, during your Simple Living daily session:

  1. Pick one area of your home, workspace, or even computer (for digital clutter), and start identifying areas you can declutter. There’s always something — a countertop, shelf, closet, drawer, cabinet, space on the floor.
  2. Clear out that space, or a small part of it — whatever you can do during today’s session. Pick out the things you love and use regularly, put them back with a designated spot, and give away, recycle or donate the rest.

Repeat this every day this week — a little at a time makes this doable!

Here’s how I recommend clearing out the space you’ve chosen:

  1. Clear everything out of the space and put it in a pile on the floor nearby. For example, if you’re doing a kitchen counter, take everything off the counter and put it on the floor.
  2. Take the top item off the pile. Don’t skip any items, or put them aside to decide on later.
  3. Make a quick decision for this item: is it something you’ve used in the last year? Do you use it regularly? Do you love it? If you can’t say yes to these questions (or at least two of them), then put it aside to get rid of.
  4. If you are going to keep something, find a home for it. If it’s worth keeping, it’s worth finding a home for it. Remember that home and put it back here each time you’re done using it.
  5. Take all the “get rid of” stuff and put it in a box for recycling, donation or giving away to friends.

The key is to make quick decisions, and go through the pile quickly and efficiently. I can do a pile in 5 minutes. Don’t put off any decisions.

If you don’t get to everything in one session, put the pile aside and tackle it tomorrow.

If you absolutely can’t bear to get rid of something but don’t think you really use it, put it in a “maybe” box to keep for 6 months (in your garage, perhaps), and put a note in your calendar 6 months from now to see if you used anything from that maybe box. If you never needed anything in the box, you can safely get rid of everything in the box.