Tackling a big cleaning or organizing project can be daunting, but there’s an easy way to instantly declutter your home without thinking twice. Focus on the little things you can eliminate from your home right now—no planning, deliberation, or guilt necessary.
1. Things that are easy
Certified professional organizer Ellen Delap recommends starting with the “low hanging fruit” and asking yourself the question: what’s the easiest thing to get rid of right now?
Delap said it could be your pile of recycling, your excess Tupperware plastics, or any number of things you find are taking up precious space but serving no real purpose. She recommends walking around with a box or tote and tossing in everything you don’t care about or need.
2. Things you’re not using
How many things in your home never get touched, used, or even thought about on a regular basis?
Go room by room and seek out the things you never use. Look in drawers and cupboards, as well as on shelves and in closets.
Rather than spending your time thinking about how you can repurpose an old item you found, just toss it in the give-away pile. Delap says it’s our “just in case mentality” that holds us back.
“We think that we might need something at a later date. However, most of the reasons are lofty and unusual,” Delap
With the exception of things like sporting equipment or seasonal clothes kept in storage, if you don’t use something on a regular basis, you probably won’t ever use it.
“If you don’t use an item in a year or two, it’s best to donate it and buy another later,” Delap said.
3. Things you have too many of
Though you may love something, if you have too many pairs of versions of it, you won’t end up using them all anyway. Plus, sometimes having too many options to choose from can make you less dissatisfied and more likely to not use an item at all.
Delap says this category of items can include things like mugs, t-shirts, magazines, travel size shampoos and conditioners, and mini condiments from fast food chains.
4. Things that are broken
This one goes without saying—if something is broken or worn down to the point where it’s no longer functional or aesthetically beautiful, get rid of it.
That blender that emits smoke and sounds like a miniature jackhammer every time you turn it on? Throw it out. That white t-shirt with the permanent, impenetrable yellow stains in the armpits? Say goodbye.
Barbara Reich, a professional organizer and author of Secrets of an Organized Mom, recommends also tossing any toiletries, cosmetics, or medications that have expired.
5.Things that don’t fit
Rather than thinking in-depth about your clothing or shoe collection, just focus on getting rid of the items that you know don’t fit or flatter you. Toss the too-big t-shirt you bought because it was on sale, get rid of the pants that dig into your waistline, and donate the high heels that squish your toes. You won’t miss them, anyway.
6.Things that are outdated
Tons of clutter can build up from old appliances and technology because people are unsure what to do with these items. Most of us have old flip phones, random chargers, remote controls, and unattached cords swimming around in our desk or junk drawers.
Whether these items are in excellent condition or not, it’s best to get rid of them if you’ve upgraded your technology and don’t use them anymore.
If you do happen to accidentally toss out something important, Reich says it would be an “inexpensive mistake.” You can always go to a nearby general store to replace a cord or charger.
Delap recommends checking out earth911.com for ideas on how best to recycle, donate, or dispose of certain electronics.
7. Things that are paper
Without even realizing it, paper items can accumulate and eventually take over many of the spaces in our homes. Magazines you’re no longer reading, junk mail you don’t need, past party and wedding invitations, and fliers are all things you can recycle without thinking twice.
For things like unused stationery, cards, notebooks, school supplies, wrapping paper, and gift bags, gather them all into one large pile and sort through them one by one to determine what you want to keep. Be honest with yourself and evaluate what you think you’ll actually use on a regular basis.
Delap recommends placing everything you’re unsure about in a donation pile to be given to a local church, shelter, or school for school supply drives.
For the really emotional items, like cards or kids’ drawings, Delap recommends inviting a friend over to help with the process.
“Talk through the emotional items, take a picture, and let the item go,” Delap said.