Conquering Clutter: Guidelines to Follow & Questions to Ask When Decluttering

purging clutter tips // shoe closet
This week I’m taking time to declutter. We all have sentimental items that we cherish and want to store away, but when is it too much? And when is it clutter? Clutter is basically anything that takes up space and isn’t improving or making your life better.  If you have clothing in your closet that you haven’t worn in years, piles of mail on the counter, toys in every corner or trouble finding important documents, it is time for you to think about purging and decluttering your home. For many of my clients letting go of items is the biggest hurdle when organizing their home.
organizing art supplies in jars ideas
Here are some guidelines and questions you should ask when determining whether to toss/recycle, donate to charity or keep:
Take one item at a time when determining to keep it or not. While sorting keep in mind that the goal is to purge and reduce the amount of stuff in your home. The best decisions are the ones made quickly.
shoe and jewelry organization idea
If you get stuck and can’t decide what to do wit h a particular item, ask yourself clarifying questions including:
  • When is the last time you used this item and was it in the last year?
  • Is it broken, damaged or the wrong size?
  • Does it make you happy or have sentimental value?
  • Do you really need this item?
purging clutter tips // bathroom shelf organization
For many of us holding onto clutter is emotional. Our possessions reflect who we are, who we are not and who we wish to be. Emotional attachment to items is something most of us do and the primary reason people hold onto clutter. Pretty Neat suggests that if you can’t make a decision on whether or not to get rid of an item, put it in a review box for a specified period of time. When time is up, it should be easier to make the decision. I would recommend having a limit to how many items can go into the “review box.” It should only be used on very select items and as sparingly as possible. Again the goal is to reduce the clutter in your home and make it more functional and beautiful.
organized vanity
Much of the clutter in your home could actually be trash. Here are some items that are the most obvious to throw away and recycle whenever possible:
  • Junk mail, old magazines and newspapers.
  • Expired food, make-up and medicine. Check with your local recycling center on how and where to dispose of medications safely. If in California,CALRecycle has list of where to take sharps and medications.
  • Clothing that is damage, stained or ripped beyond repair .
  • Boxes that are damaged or no longer useful.
  • Broken toys, games and electronic equipment.
beautiful walk-in closet // Lonny
An easy way to declutter your home is to donate items you don’t use, but are still in good condition. Donating to a family, friends or a local charity is a great place for used clothing, furniture, CDs/DVDs, toys, tools and so much more.
out of clutter, find simplicity - Albert Einstein #quote
Once you have decluttered your home, the best way to keep it that way is to set up a daily and weekly maintenance sessions. Taking fifteen minutes everyday to tackle the mail, put toys away and organize the entry or mudroom. At least once a month file away papers in your inbox, organize the pantry or review your closet for pieces that could be donated.
Are you ready to conquer the clutter in your home? There is no better time than today.
happy organizing,
* all photos courtesy of LONNY Magazine
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19 Responses to Conquering Clutter: Guidelines to Follow & Questions to Ask When Decluttering

  1. PriscilaPetersDecor July 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm #


    Fantastic post. Love the way you explaing everything with amazing images.
    I'm obsessed with your blog. I'm gladly following…

  2. Colleen January 2, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    Absolutely love your tips. I'm inspired to declutter!

  3. Allison December 30, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    Great post, Cristin! I started de-cluttering last week. I have been really wanting to simplify and organize lately. Thanks for sharing your tips! Happy New Year to you!

  4. pk @ Room Remix December 29, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    I agree that the start of the New Year is a great time to declutter! Great tips, Cristin. Happy New Year!

  5. The English Organizer December 29, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    You're off to an early start with your de-cluttering!
    I find a great time to do it is in the couple of days after coming back from a trip (once the washing machine is whirring, of course!). Having been away, it's easier to look at 'stuff' with fresh eyes and really question why things are sitting where they are. So, since I just got back from England, the time is right!

  6. The Zhush December 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

    Such great advice…and lovely images to accompany it!

  7. Michaela December 29, 2010 at 3:57 am #

    I long for my life to be completely organized like this! I've taken a few days during this break to de-clutter some of the corners in my bedroom. I find it relaxing! (: Great tips, Cristin!

  8. Bromeliad December 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    I've been feeling the itch to purge. Again.

  9. jessica December 28, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    Great advice! I needed this inspiration! 🙂

  10. Laura Casey Interiors December 28, 2010 at 5:33 pm #

    This is what I am doing this week!! Love all the tips- thanks!

  11. SHERRY HART December 28, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    I always get in the mood to clean out things when I start taking down Christmas decor and putting it away!!! Thanks for the great advice.

  12. Claudia Juestel December 28, 2010 at 2:21 am #

    Great questions and answers! I also love the photos you chose Cristin, de-cluttering by design.



  13. Priscilla December 28, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    Perfect timing for this post! I'm going through a declutter week myself here at home. Thanks for the tips!

  14. lissabee93 December 27, 2010 at 11:53 pm #


    If only my home were as tidy as your photographs! I am determined that 2011 is the year I clear the clutter. Thanks for the reminder and great tips.

    Happy New Year!!


  15. Laila December 27, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    Definitely some great tips! Thanks!

  16. pve design December 27, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    I watched a wonderful show and learned a lot about “surface abusers” and how people love to cover surfaces….so I have been taking a hard look at my own surfaces and working to clear them. I look forward to 2011 and clearing clutter!

  17. L.Duncan@Home23DuncanBoys December 27, 2010 at 9:58 pm #

    Oh I totally need to do some purging! Thanks for the tips. Now, if only you could come and help me!!!

    Have a happy New Year!

  18. Vanessa@decor happy December 27, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    This is a great week to tackle all of those areas that tend to become cluttered and I have a few. Great advice and great images! Happy Holidays!

  19. Things That Inspire December 27, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    Great timing on this post, as I spent the day cleaning out the attic in preparation for putting our house on the market. We have a huge, unfinished attic – which has enabled us to live in our current home for 14 years, but it has also enabled us to save just about everything! The attic is quite cleared out now, the garage is quite full – divided into items going to Goodwill, items going out to the trash, and items going to storage. It really feels great!