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Start Decluttering With These 5 Simple Steps

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I love simple living and minimalism in the home.   I think it is the key to mommy sanity, … and if mommy isn’t happy….  (you get the point).

So a simple minimalist home is pretty important right?

Simple is important if your not a mommy too.  If you have a home, and you don’t want it to run your life, you need it to be simple!

Since simplifying our home drastically, I have talked to lots of other folks, ‘real’ and over the computer, who want to simplify.  It seems quite universal that we want simple homes, but many people just don’t know where to start.  I wanted to write up 5 ways to simplify this week that will make a big difference.  Not only will these 5 make your life simpler, they will kick the ball a bit and help get you going.

Ready?

Good. Here are the 5 tips.  Try them all today, or try one per day this week.

  1. Throw out dead plants.  Super easy right?  If you are anything like me (or like me before last fall when I gave up) you have a few plants that you are trying to coax along.  They aren’t pretty and have had several close calls.  … it may be up in the air if they will pull past the last one.  It is okay not to have a green thumb.  Life is precious, but putting a plant out if it’s misery is perfectly humane.
  2. Collect all visible paper and recycle, file, or put away out of sight.  Take a walk around the house.  Paper hides everywhere.  Most often, paper is only needed for a short time, it is disposable (sad, I know, but holding onto it longer than necessary doesn’t save trees).  File the things you might need for taxes or an audit, save the most important art projects, set the most recent copy of a magazine on the book shelf.  But most papers, probably can be recycled.  Do you need the calendar on the wall, or all the papers on the fridge, or the stack of magazines in the corner?  Go through all visible paper, just because it has been on the counter/in the corner/on the desk for months, doesn’t mean it gets to stay there.  Just paper, don’t worry about anything else right now, it will get you off track.  Move through the house on a paper mission.
  3. Underwear drawer.  Because beauty comes from the inside out :)  Go through your underwear drawer and get rid of anything that isn’t beautiful.   Figure out how many garments you need to go between wash days and keep your best candidates.   Now you can be an under-cover minimalist.
  4. Pick a horizontal surface in your home.  I like the kitchen counters, but it might be a bit of an extreme start for you if you are just getting started.    Clear the space off entirely.  This shouldn’t be a cleaning…. you got to do that on your own, this isn’t a cleaning blog.  This is for all the things that ‘belong’ on the surface.  Find another home for them and get them off.   This goes for phones, candles, big kitchen mixers, flour and sugar canisters, clocks, lotion bottles, tissue boxes, and whatever else might be on the surface.  It doesn’t have to stay completely cleaned off, but how about try it for a week and then see if you want to add anything back.  Having a completely clean surface is beautiful.  Not only does it allow the eye to travel effortlessly through the room, but it makes the area look bigger and inviting.
  5. Find one thing you don’t like, one thing that is broken, and one thing you don’t use and remove it from the house.  Try and see how big your one thing can be.  Just one thing right now, this is only to get you started.  Maybe, if there is more than one of you in the house you can compete and see who can come up with the biggest thing to remove.

There you go!  Just like that you are on your way to a simple living space.  Hopefully this is just the beginning.

Any other good ‘starter’ areas that you can think of?  How have you kick-started your simplification process?

47 Comments

  1. Leslie Blake

    Perfect thing to do, especially since we are moving!! I LOVE a clean space! No clutter, no fuss, just a nice clean clear empty space. Even if it is the only space in the house it just feels nice! :)

    • yes, congrats on the move!

  2. Kari

    I’m tackling the paper this week!! It’s like a monster that keeps on growing. I need to learn how to tame the beast.

    • no joke. Constant battle :)

  3. Love it! I think surfaces have a way of collecting clutter. Thus, why I keep getting rid of furniture! Less space to cover=actually putting things away. As for paper, I had a system where I put papers needing to be filed. I called this little area my home office. Well, I consolidated the “home office” (a small two level paper file & 2 tiny drawers) today. I put the office paraphernalia in a kitchen drawer and now just file the papers away immediately. If not, the papers end up on the kitchen counter. Knowing I hate this, it will force me to file the papers more often. I even got the boys to help shred old papers today! It’s nice to get rid of the paper clutter :)

    • Yes! Thanks for the comment. It is a fairly simple thing to keep surfaces clean and paper away but they make such a huge visible difference.

    • Thanks for sharing. I will check it out :)

  4. Shelly

    Oh no you didn’t just call me out on the dead plant ownership!!! AAAAAUUUUGGGHHH! My husband and I have been talking about the dead (yet still 3D) thyme plant in the kitchen. I told him I could still pinch some off for cooking, but I don’t. Maybe I should strip the dead leaves off and lay the poor thing to rest in the compost bin.
    Great ideas. I like it!

    • Yeah, you can pull off the leaves you want to use and put them in a bag in the freezer. They keep for a while in there. Then the plant can go :)

  5. Tressa

    I love the look of a cleaned off counter. It is so relaxing for me. The question is why am I the worst offender for putting items that dont even belong in the kitchen let alone on the counters in this space. Do I have a split personality? Ü

    • empty spaces seem to call and beg to be covered… They need constant attention it seems :) Thanks for your comment!

  6. Gayle

    My biggest “mantra” when kids were little was “Put it back where you got it from!” which I had read in an old organizing book somewhere. It really made a world of difference! Just now finding your blog and I know it’s 2 months since you wrote this….still, good tips never grow old! Keep up the good work!

    • thanks so much for coming by. Good to meet you :)

  7. I found your blog via pinterest when searching for advice on how to get started on a mission to declutter. I’ve gone through so many posts and recommendations, but I have to say that I found your simple steps the most appealing. It’s the hardest part to simply get started, and then stay focused. I’ve gone through the dead plants (how relieved I am there’s others guilty of this habit) and underwear drawer already, and am very keen on tackling the horizontal clean surface.
    Your steps were actually constructive, really helpful and encouraging. A welcome change to stiff and plain “just throw out your clutter” posts. Thank you for sharing!

    • Welcome and thanks :)

  8. Raye Cage

    I love the Leonardo DaVinci quote: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. It has become part of my life plan mission statement. For the last year I too have been simplifying my lifestyle. Your blog will be an awesome resource to help keep me on track. I use all 5 of the decluttering tips as a weekly/monthly routine to stop my hoarding – I can’t explain the peace that floods my body & mind when I let go of stuff.

    Blessings to you Lorilee for sharing your journey.

    • Raye, good to meet you :) That is a great quote! I agree with ‘the peace that floods my body and mind when I let go of stuff’. Initially it seems like a painful or hard process but after letting go it is so amazing.

  9. amanda

    I have also just found you through Pinterest. I seem to be on a constant search for inspiration to get of my butt and organize my life. With 2 young toddlers there is so much stuff pouring into the house. I need to change my old ways and teach my beautiful little ones a better way. Big yes the plants step, I had never though of moving the old plants out but it makes so much sense! I have gone through the paper step and Im feeling better about my space already. Thanks :)

    • Amanda, good to meet you! So glad you like the tips! Kids attract stuff and make it multiply faster :)

  10. I found your blog last night via lifeyourway.net and read through a few of your posts, intrigued. My immediate reaction was “Wow! But that’s not for us…!” Funny thing though is I’m back on here first thing this morning. 😉 I really find these tips to be practical–and SIMPLE– which is perfect. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work around the house to de-clutter and create systems to keep clutter too the minimum. A lot of what I’ve been doing is containerizing everything. You’ve made me think more about challenging myself to go the extra mile and get rid of even more things in the process. I know I will be referencing these steps again and again. Thank you!

    • Hi! Good to meet you! Glad you like the posts :) I love organization too …but only after decluttering. Otherwise it just seems like organizing continues forever. As soon as one system is in place it is time to start the process again. If instead, I can get rid of stuff, than I don’t have to keep organizing it 😉

      • Hi, Lorilee! I just wanted to update you on my progress. Since last July I have decluttered (to the trash, to donate and also sold) 50 trash bags or big items like furniture! Man, I’m shocked I got rid of that much, and don’t miss it at all! I also feel now like I have a ton more to get rid of. I have read lots of blogs and articles over the last 9 months but, I still come back to yours over and over because it’s just the most helpful without overwhelming. My new goal is to get rid of enough stuff that we don’t need cardboard boxes for moving. We already have about a dozen rubber totes and I think that it would be great to fit everything but our furniture that we take into those totes. Feels like a huge goal but, I now feel like it could be do-able. Also, some of my facebook friends have been “inspired” by my progress updates so, I am of course sending them your way. I can only imagine how many others are helped daily by your amazing ministry. Thanks for sharing your journey!

      • Mrs Ogg, thanks so much for the update! I’m so excited for you! So glad I can be a small help as well. Thanks so much for your comment :)

  11. Melissa

    Hi! I found your blog through your guest post on Keeper of the Home this morning. It felt like you were speaking to me! Since January, I have made it my life’s mission to declutter our home. With three kids (8,4,2) and a husband that doesn’t seem to know where the recycle bins or trash can are, I’m on my own until I can get them on board. On the kid’s weekly chore charts, I have “Find 5 items of your own to donate”. They have to go through their own things (had to specify that one to my oldest who tried to donate her sister’s toys) to donate. They bring the items to me for approval then they go into a bag I keep in the mudroom closest. Once the bag is full we take it to the Salvation Army. It’s helped some but we’re still a work in progress. I look forward to reading your posts and learning your way of life. Thank you for sharing with us!!!

    Take care,
    Melissa

    • Melissa, Great to meet you! I like including it on the weekly chore chart, that is a good idea! I like using ‘would you like to give it to someone else’ as wording with kids. Often I will say ‘do you want to put this away or give it to someone else’. Hope you have a great weekend!

  12. Kirsten

    I I found this site today and was inspired by this post to clear off a smallish counter space in my kitchen where we keep the bread and toaster. THREE HOURS LATER and my kitchen is transformed!! Oops. :) I wasn’t planning on going nuts but it felt so good to purge all the crap we’ve accumulated over the years. I threw away two trash bags full of junk and have five bags in my car ready to donate. I can’t wait to start on the rest of the house.

    • YAY! So excited for you! It is addicting isn’t it? Thanks so much for coming back and leaving the note. You made my evening :)

      • Dee

        Yes, but…..This (modern) American way of thinking really getting me down. Buy then throwaway

  13. Manoj

    These steps have hit the nail on the head. I could actually visualise the clearing up that I would do and the results. This is what mine or any home requires. Thanks a lot.

    • Your welcome :) Good to meet you!

  14. This is AWESOME and so simple to do! I’ll be getting started on this as soon as my lovely Wife gets in this afternoon from work (I wait only because she will enjoy this as much as I will 😉 )!

  15. The storage spaces in the home like cabinets, drawers, store rooms, garage etc must be utilized intelligently. All the old, obsolete and unwanted items must be disposed off.

  16. Scarlett Piper

    I am soooooooooo inspired!!!! Can’t wait to start …

  17. joy

    So excited! Me and my husband started decluttering our bedroom 2 days ago, first, our underwear/socks drawer then clothes hanging in our closet… we unload loads of clothes and stuff… next will be clearing horizontal space. I’m a hoarder of all sorts (magazines, paper ,books, ads, little cute things, etc). Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Blessings!

    • yay! Good for you! It is exciting to hear it is working for you!

  18. Ella

    I think each and every one of us is probably in a different stage of the decluttering process (which is ongoing, I might add).

    Houseplants – I gave up on these years ago. I have gone from having one or two, to many, to a few outside, to none at all. I don’t have a garden (apartment living at the moment) so it just makes a mess now if I had any.

    Magazines – I used to have a lot, had 10* years worth of Readers Digest at one stage. Now I buy them occasionally, and if they’re older than a month or two, out they go.

    Bookcase – No longer have one, books collect too much dust. I have pruned and pruned my book collection over the years. Now I just have a few boxes in storage I MUST go through (and get rid of most). I’ll have a few books that I actually read.

    Horizontal surface – I tackled the kitchen counter yesterday (I live in a small apartment with a tiny kitchen area). The only things I may keep on there now is my electric kettle, and soap dispenser by the sink. Oh and any fresh fruit that has to get eaten within a day or so.

    Broken stuff – did that just before, I threw out an old wrecked umbrella that had been riding around in the trunk of my car.

    Sorry about the long post!

  19. Caroline

    Hi there your blog was featured in yesterday’s Sunday paper in South Australia and today I started your ‘5 steps to getting started’! Already had the 3 things in mind when I read this article today and now they are out of the house! Thanks for the great tips I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  20. Dawn

    Hi, I found your website through your book I got on Kindle. My husband and I and two children, now 11 and 16, moved from SD to IA last summer. When we moved we had to rent a house about a third the size we had been in. Needless to say, we had to eliminate. We had a very large garage sale, 3 dumpsters full of stuff and hauled about 2 dumpsters worth to the curb for “curb shopping”. Even though we eliminated that much, I am still struggling with the amount of stuff we still have. Especially my 11 year old daughter. It’s amazing the amount of stuff she can accumulate. This weekend I will be starting the push to get rid of stuff again. One area that I have been the most successful with my family is with books. I have a tablet with a Kindle app on it and my daughter has a Kindle. You can eliminate a LOT of books that way. And as a Kindle book it is often cheaper that the real thing. I am a craft person, sewing/crocheting/knitting/beading. I know, a lot of stuff, but I give away most of what I make. One way I have limited the amount of stuff here is by subscribing to my crochet and kitting magazines digitally. I get it by email and have access then to previous years issues as well.
    For those with young children, one thing I always did was before Christmas, Easter, or birthdays, we cleared out unused toys, clothes, etc, to make room for the new things they will get. It worked well.
    Sorry this got so long. Thank you for being an inspiration.

    • thanks for your comment! It is great to meet you :)

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  23. This is a great article, I live overseas in Taiwan where spaces is almost at a premium and you’d be surprised just how much junk you can live without. Since moving here I’ve definitely learned a lot about living simply and decluttering.

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