Clear That Clutter: 10 Easy Steps!

You're stuck in your house for the umpteenth day and are running out of things to do. You've baked the bread in your Instant Pot, tried all the recipes from the trendy cookbook, painted a gazillion rocks, and gone on a ton of family walks, right?

You know what needs to be done and yet you keep putting it off, don't you?

It's the storage room (cue the Jaw-themed music)...or your kitchen cupboards/closet/underwear drawer.

Clutter causes chaos-it prevents us from attaining the order we desire and takes up mind space. I don't know about you but every time I go get toilet paper out of the storage room a little bit of my soul is sucked away into the depths of my overly burdened, overflowing, storage room and I chastise myself for it. Why not just tackle that space, get it organized and efficient, and release my mind from the stressor (and the condescending brain speak tone which frankly, I do not appreciate).

Because it's overwhelming!

Where do you start? What's the most effective way to deal with the items? Well, I've polled the storage experts read some articles and here are some steps to guide you from chaos to calm.

Step 1: Mindset

Yes, honestly this is the first step. You've got to get your mind right and prepare to get into the zone. Some of those boxes you open are going to bring a flood of memories and emotions. That first picture your baby drew? It's in there. Those champagne glasses that say Bride and Groom? They're in there too. Letters and cards from loved ones, old journals, photo albums --they're all going to vie for your attention and tug at your heart strings. Prepare yourself by knowing you may become emotional and don't let the walk down memory lane drain your energy and prevent you from completing the task at hand.

Step 2: Set a Time Limit

Give yourself a 30-60 minute window to work on decluttering, that way you'll be more focused and less likely to find yourself in the corner crying over Billy's box of Bakugans.

Step 3: Gather Supplies

  • trash bags
  • empty boxes
  • post it notes
  • sharpie
  • box of tissues (Billy's Bakugans, remember?)

Step 4: Sort Items Using the Four Box Method 

      Keep It | Donate It | Trash It | Store It

A. Keep It
This should be your smallest box and should include sentimental items and things you would use daily/weekly but somehow got misplaced.

B. Donate It
Fill with valuable items you no longer use
Consider the item's condition--is it in good shape? Remember donations become garbage if they're not clean, or in good shape. Be considerate.

C. Toss It
Just a note here--keep your 'purging energy' in check. Before you toss it, think about whether or not it's a donate-able item.

D. Store It
This box should include any items you cannot part with but don't need on a regular basis. Items like seasonal decor or seasonal clothing are examples.

Step 5: Re-Storing

Group like items and stick to broad categories like 'Memories' instead of birthday cards and love letters.

Step 6: Organize What's Left

Purchase transparent storage boxes, organizers and shelving units. Place the items that you've organized into groups into the transparent boxes and label them. You can itemize the labels to give you a better idea of contents:

  • Label: Sewing
  • Items: Christmas Prints,Patterned Prints, Quilting Batting, Fat Quarters (this term makes me giggle)

Step 7: Clean the Storage Room/Closet/Cupboard

Wipe down the surfaces, vacuum, dust away cobwebs, spray some Febreze around. This is probably the worst part so turn the music up real loud and shake your booty while you shake your feather duster.

Step 8: Pack The Items Away

Pack away the containers with the bulky and heavy items on or close to the floor. Make sure you organize the space so that you only need to move one other item in order to access another. If you have to move boxes around like the pieces on that Traffic Jam game chances are you're either going to mess up the space again over time, or you're going to forget about what you have and just go buy another one. Don't do this--clutter causes chaos, remember?

Step 9: Donate

I hear you rolling your eyes-- 'this is not the time to donate' --but hear me out...


Once we find the new normal that awaits us your clutter will still need evicting so take those Donate It boxes, close them up with some packing tape, and put them on the floor of your garage so that they are ready to go when the time comes.

Or, you can list the items on a Buy Nothing group on Facebook.

Some precautions I've noticed people taking in light of COVID-19  are:

  • washing items
  • bagging them using gloved hands
  • letting sit in garage or on front step for a day or two
  • putting the items in bags labelled for the recipient
  • DM'ing your address privately rather than on the group/site

Step 10:  Go do another room

Just kidding--go make another loaf of bread or if it's 7pm go bang on your pots and pans to thank a front line worker.

Once you've achieved your organizational zen, please feel free to send good energies my way as I have huge storage room that needs tackling too.  I'll get to it right after I finish this loaf of bread...

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