De-Cluttering Made Simple

Many of us with busy lives let clutter build up in our homes. We receive gifts, buy things we -totally- need but never actually get around to using, hang on to things that have ‘sentimental value’ (old keepsakes such as trading cards or stuffed toys) and so on. Eventually we may reach a point where the idea of living a simpler life sounds attractive. After all, less stuff means less to clean, less to organize, less spending on unnecessary items and more money, time and energy to dedicate to the things that matter to us most.

Of course, doing that means getting rid of stuff we already have. Don’t worry if the idea of getting rid of a bunch of stuff sounds overwhelming to you — you’re not alone!

The simplest way to start decluttering is to pick a cluttered room. The idea is to sort unnecessary possessions into 6 boxes or bags, labelled: ‘Keep’, ‘Unsure’, ‘To be sold/ Sell’, ‘Give to Friends’, ‘Donate’ and ‘Garbage’ by asking yourself a series of Yes or No questions about each individual item in the room. If the answer to a particular question is yes, the item goes in that box or bag. If the answer to a particular question is no, you move to the next option until you find one that fits.

  1. Do I Need this? (If Yes à Keep box. If Unsure à Unsure box. If No, next question.)
  2. Can I sell this/is it Valuable? (If Yes à Sell box.)
  3. Would a friend want/need it? (If YesàGive/Swap box.)
  4. Can it be donated? (If YesàDonate box.)

If the answer to all of those questions is No, that item goes in the garbage. Items that stay in the ‘Unsure’ box for more than a year should be either sold or thrown out.

Items you need (or think you might need) you keep. These should be sorted and given a dedicated place. If you don’t need it, try selling it on Kijiji, Craigslist or on social media. If you haven’t had success selling the item, or it’s not something that can be sold, think about giving it to a friend who needs or wants it, or try swapping it online using a service such as If nobody you know wants it, and you’re not having any success swapping it, think about donating it to a local charity or shelter. Anything that isn’t accepted as a donation should be thrown out.

Of course, the toughest of all of these questions is ‘Do I need this?’, because need is a very subjective thing depending on the item AND the person. A good rule of thumb is, anything that makes you happy, you keep!


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