Friday, April 11, 2014

Eleven De-Cluttering & Organizing Tips

"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones."
Proverbs 12:4

Along with the sparks of renewal I am feeling with this new season,
comes the desire to flush out the old and to spring clean.
Included in that comes the yearning to de-clutter!

We're on a renewed mission here at our house,
going through drawers, closets, shelves, cupboards, the garage, and attic once again,
searching for things we don't use or need...
preparing for our bi-annual yard sale.

After all, how much stuff do three people really need?

You know, it's amazing how you change throughout the years of living life.
When we got married, we thought we "needed" so much.
Those first several years of married life are years spent accumulating and collecting.

Then we hit our 40's, and we start to wonder what in the world ever attracted us
 to so many Nolan Ryan collector plates in the first place!
We realize they have been sitting in their original boxes, tucked away in the attic
for the past 12 years, never seeing the light of day and no longer bringing a light into our eyes.
So, maybe it is time to part ways and pass them on to someone who still finds them interesting.

I am even letting go of some of the sentimental things....
because suddenly I find they have lost their sentimentality.
Sometimes, I can't even remember why I classified them as sentimental in the first place.

Things we do not need or use...or even want....create clutter in our homes.
They hinder our productivity and clog our flow of creativity.
They vex our spirit every time we see them sitting on a table, hanging on a wall,
or tucked inside a dresser drawer.

So, why keep them?
Why not sell or donate them to someone who will use and enjoy them?

There is something about de-cluttering that just plain feels good.

We have gathered so many boxes together...filled to the brim...with stuff.
I don't even feel like we have yet scratched the surface.
I feel guilty.
We are so blessed.
Actually, we are abundantly and overly the point of excess.

So, in having been through this process several times already,
here is a list of eleven tips to de-clutter and organize your home....
not necessarily in any particular order as far as importance.


#1.  Pretend that you are making a long-distance move.
If you were moving everything you own on a one-way trip from Florida to New York,
just what would you really want to take?
If everything you were taking had to fit into one moving truck,
what would you categorize important enough to squeeze in?
What would you part with?
What would you throw away?
What would you leave behind?
Give honest answers to pointed questions.
Do I really need this anymore?
Do I use it...ever?
Do I love it as much as I used to?
Does it still fit?
Will it ever fit...again?  Seriously?
Do I really want to keep looking at its glaring reminder, until and in case, it ever does?
Could someone else wear it and enjoy
Am I keeping this item only to please someone else?
Do they live here...or do I?
Who looks at this thing every day anyway? :)
Could I generate some income if I sold unwanted items?
(If you can't have a yard sale or participate in a local flea market,
EBay is a wonderful online tool for unloading unwanted items.
You would be surprised at what sells on there.
What you no longer like or want may be just the thing someone else is looking for.)
Now, even though you are not making a long-distance move,
go get started, and de-clutter as if you were!  :)

#2.  Don't try to tackle it all at once.
Break it down...into one drawer, one closet, one cupboard, one section at a time.
Anything else becomes just plain unmanageable.
Doing it a little at a time makes it seem more achievable.
I don't know about you, but if I look at a huge job and try to take it all in at once,
I end up not doing anything at all.
It is just way too overwhelming.

#3.  Involve the whole family.
Make it a family project...and make it fun.
"Making it fun gets the job done."
At our house, if one of us gets really excited about something,
the others are sure to follow.
When we are all pitching in and working together, the work is cut into thirds,
and we all get to enjoy the satisfaction of completion together.
Working together, as a unit, towards a common goal, is important...and very strengthening to family bonds.
Having someone else's input is invaluable, too.
In our household, Kevin is the level-headed one.
He is way more even-keeled than I am.
Sometimes, the things I insist upon holding on to are not in our best interest.
I have learned to trust his wisdom.  :)

#4.  Make sure you keep the things you really love.
I have made the mistake of going on a de-cluttering tangent,
gotten rid of a ton of stuff in my zealous frenzy,
then lived to regret it later when I realized I had let something go that was precious to me.
My lesson learned?
Don't get rid of anything impulsively.
Set the item in question aside for one month.
Give it that fair window of opportunity.
In the meantime, pretend it is gone.
If you don't feel any emotional second thoughts during the time of waiting,
it is probably safe to let it go.

#5.  Make sure you keep the things you still use.
Even if only one family member uses something only on rare occasions,
keep it if it is still usable...and still being used.
You will live to regret it if you don't....the next time it is needed.  :)
It isn't practical to get rid of something that still works and is still usable,
then have to go out and spend money to buy a new one the next time you find use for it.
Even if it is used only seasonally or less frequently than that,
if you know you will more than likely need it down the line,
hold on to it, find it a permanent storage place, and put it away.

#6.  Make a place for everything you want to keep.
"A place for everything, and everything in its place" is a philosophy that really works.
If something doesn't have a place, and it is something you really want to hold on to,
make a permanent home for it, then make sure it is back in its place at the end of each day.

#7.  Re-purpose the old.
Think outside the box.
Just because something is labeled for a specific purpose
doesn't mean you can't remove the label and use it for something else!
Think paint...and elbow grease...and stencils.
Before you let go of something that is still useful,
ask yourself "could this serve another, entirely different purpose?"
Remember seasons of life change, so do our needs.
Maybe the cutesy plastic crate that used to house stuffed animals
could now be practically and efficiently re-purposed to store homeschool items.
Perhaps the drawer in your nightstand that used to be the home for middle-of-night-feeding supplies,
extra pajamas for your little one, diapers, wipes, and/or other baby supplies,
could now become a place to file and store your greeting cards, stationery, and other writing supplies.

#8.  Use up every available permanent, pre-made space...
(especially what is hidden & out of sight.)
If there is already an empty drawer, closet, shelf, or cupboard in place, make good use of it.
Instead of rushing out to buy the latest organizing tote, crate, rack, or gadget,
ask yourself if there is an already-existent area of space in your home that could be used instead.
It is already there, filling up a certain amount of space.
Is there a cupboard in your kitchen filled with unused equipment or utensils
that could be emptied and filled with things you do actually use?
Instead of holding on to the gawky cheese slicer you received
as a gift from Aunt Imogene four Christmases ago,
(that is still in the box and has never been used, by the way,)
why not sell it or re-cycle it to someone who actually uses a cheese slicer,
and put your handy-dandy, used-everyday chopper that has never had a forever home in its place?
Instead of keeping sixteen casserole dishes, just because they were wedding gifts 30 years ago,
why not keep just know the one you love and always reach for first....
and sell or give away the other 15?
How many times do you really make more than one casserole at a time, anyway?
After the extra 15 dishes are gone, just think of the wonderful ways you can use that new empty space!
How exciting!
There was a period of time when we had accumulated literally dozens
of small, plastic, kiddie cups with lids from all sorts of restaurants.
They took up an enormous amount of space in the cupboard above our refrigerator.
It wasn't that Zach ever used any of them.
In fact, they stayed stored up there for years.
Every now and then, as he got a new one, I would add it to the overflowing collection,
close the cupboard door, and forget they were there, once again.
Why did I do this?
It was just that they held me captive by the
"Awww...that is the one he got when we went to Perkins that day in 2003, remember?" factor.
How many cups can one child use?
One day, my better sense finally won the victory over my tender-hearted, sentimentality,
and we let them go.
This created empty, unused space!
It is a perfect place to store those items that are used maybe once a year on special occasions,
(like the electric knife we use only on days like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, for example)
tucked safely away in a space that was already there.
I love being able to do that!
Sometimes, adding another "thing" or "organizational assistant" ends up
just creating more clutter and taking up more space.
Using what you already have is frugal, efficient, practical, and extremely gratifying.

#9.  Simplify.
Do what is best for you.
Do what works for you.
Don't try to organize your home to anyone else's standards.
What does "organized" look like for you?
Of other people's advice, (including everything you read on this blog) I say this...
take what you can use, the rest throw away.
You and your family live in your home.
What makes life less stressful and more peaceful for you?
You are the person who stands in front of your stove, day after day, meal after meal.
What would make the job of cooking easier for you?
Where is the most convenient spot to keep your whisks, spatulas, and wooden spoons?
Would it be best to put them into a drawer or into an on-the-counter-utensil-holder?
How much counter space do you have available?
Where could your pans be stored within easy reach of the stove?
Which shelf would enable each member of your family to reach drinking glasses?
Is there room in your bathroom to store bath towels and wash cloths?
Or would they best be stored in the linen closet down the hall?
You get the picture.
Evaluate your current living situation.
Try to walk into each room, pretending each cupboard, shelf, closet, and drawer is completely empty.
Think of your daily activities and chores.
Assess where you would put things if you were just moving in.
Then re-arrange things to best suit your needs today.
Quite possibly, the method you set up ten years ago
may not be the most practical means of doing things today.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
But, if it is broke, and if it no longer works, do what needs to be done to change it and simplify your life.
Think about the things that consistently cause stress,
and do your utmost to change things up and move things around to eliminate it.
Who cares if it meets anyone else's standards.  :)
God has given you the charge to "guide your house" (I Timothy 5:14) and "keep your home" (Titus 2:5).
Do it wisely, efficiently, and in a way that will best serve the ones He has placed in your stewardship.

#10.  Keep sets and like-minded items together.
This goes for everything.
Collector sets that are dear enough to your heart to keep,
bath towels,
wash cloths,
sheets separated by size,
serving bowls,
greeting cards and writing supplies,
well, you get the picture.
Having them all in one place really gives a visual of the number of that item in your possession
and allows you to identify areas of over-abundance and excess.
I mean, how many towels can one person really use?
Do you really need to keep more than one change of sheets for each bed in the house?
In reality, how many sets can you use at one time?
After every, single like-minded item is in one place,
create three piles.
Label them as "needs", "wants", and "keeping only because of guilt".
Honestly evaluate and differentiate between the three.
Keep the "needs" pile.
Analyze the "wants" pile...keeping only what you really love and the things that make you smile.
Get rid of the "keeping only because of guilt" pile....
the sooner the better.
The longer the things in this pile stay around, the more vexed you will feel.
Who needs that?
And just think of all of the space you will free up!
Did I mention that I love the positive energy of empty spaces
and how much I adore using them most economically, productively, and efficiently?

#11.  Decide what to do with what you are getting rid of...
and then get rid of it....asap.
After you make firm decisions as to what you are actually going to let go of,
make two piles.
Label them as "sell" and "donate".
Sell Items:
Get some sturdy boxes, and start price-labeling the "sell" items.
As you fill up boxes, put them out of sight.
Find a a rarely-used closet, the attic, the garage, etc.,
and put them there.
This way, when it comes time for your next yard sale, you will alleviate stress.
As you go along, keep adding to the pile, making sure each item is price-labeled.
Is there anything more annoying than going to a yard sale and having to keep asking for the price?
Doing this tedious work as you go along makes it so much easier.
And somehow, having that price-label in place makes it a bit less tempting to take it back.
The sooner you can possibly participate in a sale or consign the items, the better.
Donate items:
As you decide what items you will donate, put them into boxes right away.
As soon as you have a reasonable amount accumulated,
make the connection with the recipient(s).
If you are giving to a thrift store, Goodwill, or other charity,
make the trip to drop off the donations.
If you are giving them to an individual, drop them in the mail or meet up to deliver them.
All of this, as soon as possible.
Don't procrastinate, feeling you have done enough by separating and categorizing unwanted items.
The longer you wait, the less likely you will be in following through...
and the more tempted you will be to return some of that stuff to its original location.
Waiting sets you up for failure and defeat.
Don't procrastinate.
Remember, your whole goal is to eliminate clutter,
dispel the causes for vexation,
and to remove negative energy from your home.

By the way, by the time I am finishing this post, the yard sale is now history.
God blessed our efforts.
This time, we left there with over $209!!
This for things that we really didn't want or need.
What a blessing!
And, guess what else?
We were able to bless others, too!
As the Holy Spirit led, we were able to give away lots of clothing,
some books, Gospel tracts, and other items as we met and conversed with strangers throughout the day.
At the end, we kept some of the leftover items that we want to try to sell in the next sale,
and we donated the rest.
All of the giving part felt great, and it didn't feel too bad leaving there with over $200, either!

God is SO good!


  1. I like the balanced approach to your view on decluttering.....sometimes the things people say to do are so extreme and guilt inducing and they don't lead to a new "vision", but rather to a "have to" approach. We do have things to get rid of, things to sort, things to sell or give or throw away. Part of the issue is ongoing life and "fitting it in", but oh, the blessing of a bit of extra room, not having to shove a drawer closed or stumble over something that has no "home". Thank you for the inspiration....given in a kind way. We are in the middle of doing the same in our home and this spurs me on to continue. :)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words today! God bless you with your de-cluttering efforts. ;) It is definitely an ongoing battle, but through Him, we can do anything!

  2. It is amazing to me how much stuff we accumulate. I recently donated 13 boxes full of stuff and I still have half a garage full of boxes to go through. It seemed so easier to shove things into a box in the garage than to go through them. I am finding out how wrong that idea was. We moved 5 months ago and the things in the house are mostly what we want and use, but the garage is a whole other story. It is a work in progress.

    1. I know what you mean! It is like it multiplies, once we get it home. How wonderful that you donated all of that stuff! I am sure someone is now reaping the benefits of your generosity. I can relate to the garage seems to be the dumping ground for stuff we don't want to deal with. But, we will get there, little by day...and one baby step at a time, by God's amazing grace!!

  3. Hi Cheryl,
    My husband and I are opening a restaurant. We've spent many hours cleaning the mess the last occupants left. Suddenly, I can see clutter and dirt in my home that I didn't see before. We tend to walk right on by it. I have a renewed motivation to use it up and clear it out. Thanks for this reminder.
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

    1. Oh, wow, Laura! Congratulations on the new business venture!! May God bless your efforts and bring you lots of paying, satisfied customers!!! You are right. We just become so used to the clutter and mess that we don't even notice it is there. Thanks for stopping and leaving a comment. It is always a blessing to have you come by. :)

  4. I have been on a decluttering rampage this past week too! These tips were so helpful! I find that I'm not always very good about finding a place for everything, and before I know it the clutter gets overwhelming again. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. I know what you mean! If I don't make a place right then and actually put it away, it more than likely will not get done. :( Another thing I am learning is to not put something down until it is in its "place". The longer I handle something, the better my chances of not following through and returning it to its forever home. :) So thankful you stopped by!!

  5. Thanks for sharing these tips, Cheryl :-)

    1. Hope you find them helpful to you!!

  6. These are some great tips especially as I'm getting ready to declutter, again... Simplify is key. You can read about our Easter Break here:


    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving encouragement behind! I will visit your blog! God bless you. :)

  7. This is very helpful as I am working on cleaning out something (drawer, cupboard, closet) in our home each week. I like your ideas and advise especially "once you have created a permanent home make sure it is put back there by the end of the day." Thank you for sharing. Stopping by from Making your home sing Monday link up.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments and for stopping here today. May God bless you as you continue your de-cluttering. :)

  8. What a Blessing your post is with the tips and suggestions how to de-clutter, I feel so guilty about now as I look at my desk, and I know my drawers and cupboards are in the same condition. But you have inspired me! Thank you for sharing with us here at "Tell Me a Story."

    1. I know what you mean...I make some progress in my de-cluttering efforts, only to look around and see so much excess! It is an ongoing battle that will take time and then a re-training of mindset to maintain. Thank you so much for stopping and leaving such a sweet comment behind. God bless you!

  9. I like the 2 points of keeping the things you really use AND the things you really love! These are excellent tips to help declutter and organize! Thanks for sharing them.

    1. Thank you so much, Kate! So happy you stopped by. Thank you for the link-up, too!! God bless you!

  10. By hovering on the icon for your entry, there is a share selection, so I put this on my face Book to share today! very nice post

    1. Great! So thankful you shared! Hope it is a blessing.

  11. S0 interesting and well reseached! I gave a very old pasta strainer away and my husband misses it Was his mom's--all dented. People get attached to things!

    1. Thank you so much! You are so right, we do get attached to things, then miss them after we let them go. :) I am going to check out your blog now. So happy to have met you.

  12. Thank you for your helpful tips, Cheryl. I am definitely in the mood for some de-cluttering and will put your good advice to use here in my home.

    1. I know what you mean...spring time seems to bring it out in us!! :) So thankful you came by and left encouragement behind. God bless you in your endeavors to de-clutter.

  13. This is a wonderful post and your pictures so typify what you are saying about decluttering. I love you style of decoration. So inviting.

    1. Oh, thank you so much! I am so thankful you stopped by today...and thank you for the wonderful weekly link-up! I look forward to it. :)

  14. I SO need to do some decluttering. I think we accumulate "stuff" until we fill whatever space we have. Someday my husband and I plan to move to a smaller house, and sorting through everything will be a huge job. Your tips are excellent, as is your reminder that I shouldn't wait until the need is urgent. :)

    We are near a branch of International Students, Inc. (, which distributes all sorts of household items to international students. I'm sure those young people can use some of the things that have been shoved in the back of my cabinets for ten years!

    1. You are so right! Just like we seem to spend whatever we earn, we seem to fill whatever space we have. Isn't this the truth! I am so thankful you enjoyed the post and happy you stopped by today. I am hopping over to your place right now. :)

  15. I love organizing, cleaning and de-cluttering. So much so, I label everything, file everything, and give away everything (even if I used it that morning). haha!!

    1. I can tell that you are very organized...and you are one of the most giving, kind-hearted people ever. You have blessed me so many your kind words, cards, etc. Anyone who has you as a part of their life is very abundantly blessed. :)

  16. Hello Mrs. Cheryl,I am in the process of decluttering myself.Everything we do not want will go to a local thrift store.
    They sell it,and we get something back from the sales.
    Except clothes, all of our clothes I take to a donation box. 2 months ago I took up like 5 bags,then someone gave me left overs from a couple of yard sales. What we did not want the rest went to a donation bin as well.


    1. Great ideas, Renee! It is always more blessed to give than to receive! God bless you. ;)