24 Ways to Minimize Clutter

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I am no stranger to getting rid of all my furniture and storing all my keepsakes or hard to replace items every year or two. On average every 6-12 months I make a big move across country or to travel to a far-away place for a long stretch of time. I didn’t want to bring my stuff but I didn’t want to get rid of it either.

This time was different, this time I got rid of 96% of my stuff so I could be free of my things and travel light (physically and mentally). I only kept half a bag of clothes and few small boxes full of photos, notes, tax docs and a few old items passed down from generations of ancestors.  The above photo is the last items standing before purging once more to come to Asia for the next few months and to move from Hawaii to Virginia.

Getting rid of all my things sucked, the process itself was really challenging even for someone who doesn’t own a lot. I am a Google fanatic (I Google EVERYTHING) so I tried my hand at searching ‘why can’t I get rid of all my crap?’  It wasn’t helpful.

The hardest thing for me was getting rid of my books. I love my books. I love curling up in the corner and snuggling up with them on a day I feel like escaping, especially if it’s cold or raining. I love displaying my wide variety of topics and titles to show off how ‘cultured’ I am. So instead of looking at what my books stood for I looked at them logically and I realized some pretty amazing things. I realized I didn’t read most of them from cover to cover, I realized my ego was attached to these books, I acknowledged that these items don’t make up who I am and I cannot take them with me after I am dead.

Even so, the actual book donation drop off was a struggle. I tried to compromise with myself that I’d only keep 5 books! Just 5! But alas I dropped off the books and guess what happened? I forgot all about them and they never influenced my emotions again.

My bag was light. My conscious was light. I have no regrets. And I feel GREAT.


Here are some helpful tips to de-clutter your life:

  1. Start with one section of one room- sometimes one room can be too overwhelming. Start with a closet, desk, storage bin, etc
  2. Make sure you’ve eaten before you start to organize and you have water nearby- you’d be surprised how mentally draining this process can be and to add hunger on top of that can be a scary thing
  3. If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it
  4. If you’re waiting for XYZ (IE to lose weight, get a bigger closet, etc) get rid of it
  5. If they are things you think you need to keep but haven’t used it in a year, put it in a box/bag and store it for 3 months. If you cannot remember what was in there- get rid of it
  6. If you have more than 4 of the same item- get rid of it (aka blankets, same size pot, same type of running shoes/heals, purses, scarves etc)
  7. If you don’t think you’ll use it in the next 6 months, get rid of it
  8. Are you identifying with objects? If your ego is attached to them it will be difficult but push through it and get rid of it
  9. If it’s paperwork then file what you legally need & scan and save the rest on the cloud
  10. Have children’s artwork you love….but don’t love 18 bins of it? Take photos of the work and convert it into a photo-book (shutterfly.com)
  11. Get CD binders and ditch the CD cases if you still have them
  12. Jam Jars are great for storing foods, grains, rice etc. so you can get rid of excess boxes in your pantry
  13. Stop and visualize how you want the room to look once it’s all cleared out when you are lacking motivation

Ways to minimize:

  1. Donate donate donate. There are plenty of places that will pick up for you as well if you do not have the means to drop off, use google for your local area. Think of local churches, shelters & charities
  2. Magazines can be dropped off at your local Drs office, just ask if they take donations first (or sneak a few in there)
  3. Books are a great donation items for shelters, the library, local used book stores, schools, etc. you can also have a book swap if you don’t like to see your shelves bare but cannot add more to your collection
  4. Consignment shops. If you have gently used items feel free to call around and see who gives the best deal
  5. Before you buy ANYTHING: ensure you don’t have it in your home already, ask yourself if you can afford it, if you need it and if you can’t build it out of something already existing in the home- then go for the purchase
  6. Curb-it, if you live in a busy neighborhood or by a freeway, just curb your large items and flag it on Craigslist
  7. Ebay, Craigslist etc all are great places to sell items as well
  8. Ask your community who could use a dresser, fridge, extra blankets, etc.
  9. Yard/Garage Sale- ask your neighbors to join!
  10. Buy local, buy quality! Cheaper things made overseas do not last nearly as long and have a better social and economic impact on your community
  11. Do not spend more than 2-3 hrs in a day organizing/minimizing- you will get burnt out. Start with 30 min each day

Please let me know how you minimize your life

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