How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress

Excessive clutter is often a symptom and a cause of stress and can affect every facet of your life: from the time it takes you to do things to your finances and your overall enjoyment of life. Clutter can distract you, weigh you down and in general, it invites chaos into your life.

Tackling the clutter can seem an insurmountable task if you don’t know where or how to start. By devoting a little of your time to getting rid of the clutter in your life and maintaining things relatively clutter-free, you’ll reap the rewards of pleasing living areas, reduced stress, and a more organized and productive existence.

The best way to declutter your home, your work space, and your life is to take things one small step at a time. Combined, small steps will lead to big improvements that will be easier to maintain over the long-run.

Less clutter, more organization. Less stress, more time. Less debt, more freedom. Less discontent, more intention. No, we’re not selling you some kind of magical wonder pill—but have you tried coffee? It works pretty well. Believe it or not, you can sift through the chaos and create the organized life you want. 

How to Declutter Your Life

1. Reduce your commitments

Often times, our lives are too clutterd with all of the things that we need to do at home, work, school, in our religious or civic lives, with friends and family, with hobbies, and so on.

Take a look at each area of your life and write down all of your commitments. Seeing it all written down can be quite an eye-opening experience as well as overwhelming. From here, look at each one and decide whether it really brings you joy and value, and if it is worth the amount of time that you invest in it.

Learn how to say no and decline offers. If you eliminate the things that don’t bring you joy or value, you’ll have more time for the things that you love.

Keep in mind, that not ALL of the things you don’t enjoy can be eliminated. Some things, like feeding the family 7 days a week (do they really need to eat three times a day???) or keeping up on laundry can’t be eliminated.

But other things, like walking the dog or grocery shopping can be delegated. You could hire a dog walker, order the groceries online for someone else to collect and ring up, carpools can be arranged to pick the kids up one or two nights a week so you can take an hour to yourself, etc.

Photo by Bich Tran on

2. Reconsider your routines

Many of us do not have any set routines in our daily lives and simply tackle our obligations, chores and daily tasks haphazardly. Without structure, it can lead to chaotic days and a drop in productivity. I say this from personal experience! Without routines and systems in place, it is very hard to get things accomplished timely and orderly.

Batch tasks together. Instead of doing your laundry several times throughout the week, do it all on one day. Or, if your family is like mine, do it more than once a week, but only on specific days. I do laundry on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. (If I didn’t, I would never get it done since we have 8 people in our house.) But since putting this system in place, everyone knows when laundry is getting done, they get what they need gathered up for the right days and we never have to worry about not having the right clothes for the right day.

It’s helpful to write down all of your weekly and daily obligations, chores, and tasks, and then plan out daily and weekly routines. Hang it up where you can see it and try to follow it. You might find that having a routine brings a new sense of calm and order to your life.

You can also do a household calendar and include everyone’s activities. It will help you see where you are over doing it and places that need more attention. Example: You have one hour per week of self-time, but your husband has twenty hours. This would become apparent with a family calendar and could be addressed.

3. Live with intention

Before you buy anything, step back and ask yourself if your life really needs another one of these things in it—whatever it is. Do you really need another pair of jeans? Why? Do you need to replace a pair, or do you just have an itch to buy something, anything? Sure, those picture frames might be on sale, but do you need more? Do they bring you joy? Be intentional about your purchases as you work to declutter your life. Remember, don’t buy things you don’t need, especially if they don’t have value or mean something to you.

How to Declutter Your Home

1. Declutter your rooms

When it comes to decluttering your house, there are two simple rules you can use as you go through each room.

Ask yourself:

  1. Does this item belong in this room?
  2. When was the last time I used it?

Remember to take things out of containers, off the shelves, and out of drawers. That way you can see everything you have to work with.

There are 3 categories to separate things into while decluttering:

  1. Keep
  2. Trash
  3. Donate

Put things up that belong in other rooms. Return things that have been borrowed from others. Throw trash away. Decide if something needs fixed or replaced. Donate the rest.

It’s easy to become a collector of things like DVDs, CDs, books and, oh yeah, toys. Instead of throwing things away, you can sell them on Craigslist, Decluttr Let It Go, Facebook Marketplace or other apps. If no one bites, donate the items to Goodwill or have a garage sale. Win-win!

Photo by Wallace Chuck on

2. Declutter the closets

Oh, those closets. They can be one of the worst areas to dive into when you’re trying to declutter your house. But it doesn’t have to be scary!

Keep these three rules in mind as you go through the clothes in your closet:

  1. Does it fit?
  2. Is it damaged?
  3. Have I worn it in the last six months?

The first two answers are pretty easy—but how do you really know when you last wore something? Here’s a tip: Flip all the hangers backwards (hooks facing you). When you wear an item and go to hang it back up, turn the hanger back in the opposite direction (hooks facing your closet wall). Then wait six months. If there are any hooks still facing you with clothes you haven’t worn, maybe it’s time to part with those items. That’s time to go through almost 2 complete seasons and will allow you to do seasonal cleanses which will help to keep the clutter down even more effectively.

If you’re up for a crazy challenge, see if you can keep a closet full of only staple items. There are plenty of minimalist fashion challenges out there. Some ask you to wear only 33 items—including clothing, shoes and accessories—for three months. Some allow even fewer items and last 100 days or even a full year! It sounds pretty tough, but it’s doable if you’re up for the challenge.

3. Clean out your drawers

Drawers are prime place for things to get shoved into.

Empty out your drawers, and sort them by whether you’re keeping, tossing, or donating them.

See what you can purge and part with altogether. Then look around your house or office for containers you can use to organize papers and loose items. You might even want to invest in some affordable organizational items, too.

You can use the tips from decluttering your rooms and closets listed above if you need help.

How to Maintain Order over the Long-Term

Once you’ve successfully decluttered, whether it be one area or all the areas mentioned above, clutter will inevitably begin to creep back into your life. You must be vigilant in weeding it out on a regular basis, or it will just take over your life again.

1. Set up a system to keep clutter in check.

Examine the way that you do things and how things make their way into your life, and consider whether you can put together a simple system for everything, from your laundry to work projects and email.

Write down your systems step-by-step and try to follow them as best as you can. Follow your systems and you’ll keep the clutter minimized.

2. Don’t slack off.

It’s easy to put things off for another day, but it’ll save you headaches in the long-run if you deal with things immediately.

Throw it out, donate it, or keep it and put it in a designated area.

Don’t let this decluttering mission be a one-time thing! You can make this a habit in your life. How? Be self-aware and live with intention. Put these 8 tips into practice anytime you need to declutter your life. The hard work is behind you. All you have to do now is keep moving toward the decluttered life you want to live!

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