Three Tips For Successful Decluttering

There has already been a first round of decluttering throughout the house. It was the easy round. I am not generally a saver of things so there weren't layers and layers of stuff to go through. This was the round of... "When did we get this?", "What do you use this for anyway?" and, "Wow, that is really ugly". Easy peasy, that round one of clean out.

 Now that round two is underway, I am doing my best to apply thoughtful intention to decluttering, which certainly means that round two won't be the last round. There is no rigid schedule. Every couple of weeks, I take on a small section of the house and take away what is no longer needed. This weekend, it was a couple of kitchen cabinets. First, up, the dishes.

This is what it looked like when I started. This cabinet is not over full or junky. There are four people living in my household. Do we need 24 plates, 17 bowls, 26 saucers, and 8 small containers. No, we do not. If I were a true minimalist, we would keep four of each item. And, maybe someday, that will be the case. For now, the goal is to simplify and cut back to what we need, with the definition of what we need changing over time as we embrace simpler living.

After cleaning out this cabinet, the top shelf sat empty. There was another cabinet nearby that was feeling unorganized and cluttered. I cleaned it out, too, which meant the mixing bowls and pie plates were reassigned to the top shelf of this cabinet. The after clean out counts are: 11 plates, 11 bowls, 12 saucers, and 5 small containers. That is half of what was there before. Those counts are still high. Here is why.  First, I know we are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, which puts me in a mental place of more for that occasion. Second, those yellow dishes are the dishes I ate off of as a child. Even though I don't need so many, I want to keep the set intact. When it is time to let them go, they will all go as a set. The last reason is that I have a dishwasher and use it. We can empty out all of the plates and bowls before the dishwasher is full enough to run.

If you want to simplify and declutter but are nervous or insecure about getting rid of too much, too fast, try these tips.

1) Clean out in phases. 
First, clear out the obvious, easy stuff. On the second round, consider how much you really need, along with how long it has been since you used it. Give time between rounds of cleaning out to enjoy the results of less stuff. I have not attempted a third round yet, but my thought are that this will be the round of separating the emotional attachment from the physical stuff. The yellow dishes from my childhood are an example of when that will come into play.

2) Clean out one small space at a time. 
It would overwhelm me to clean out my entire home over a few days. It would be physically tiring and emotionally challenging. If you share some of those feelings, take it one room at a time, or one kitchen cabinet at a time. For me, the mindset of simplifying and cleaning out is always there and an ongoing project. I like the positive reinforcement of simplifying on a continuous basis. 

3) Enjoy the small victories.
It makes me smile every time I take a bowl from the cabinet. It is easier to find things, to put away things, and to clean things. The process is as fun as the end result. Enjoy every moment of making a better, simpler life for yourself.


  1. I question why you should get rid of the yellow dishes.
    Emotion is human. We derive meaning from connections with our past. The yellow dishes remind you of home, safety of being a child and cared for. That is just as important as living with less.

  2. Thank you for your comment, LeeAnna. The dishes do remind me of growing up, and I have that story to keep forever. What I am learning is that the object is not necessary for the story to live on. Once the kids are grown in a few years, there will not be a need to have place settings for twelve people when only two people live at home. That will be the right time to let those go.


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