Simplify your life {Week 22: declutter your stuff}

by Debra Dane on May 28, 2012

in Home Life, Simplify your life 2012

What I want us to do this week is to start the decluttering process for the objects that fill your home. This will not be accomplished in a week – there are other sites that spend 52 weeks just decluttering so consider this the starting point for you to work through depending on how much needs to be tackled in your home. The information I am sharing can be used over and over, room by room, drawer by drawer so you can keep moving forward at your own pace. The key is to keep moving forward!

Following along the same way we did our home audits, here are some approaches I want you to consider and questions for you to reflect on. I hope at least one of them will spur you on to let go of unneeded and unloved items so that your home life can truly be simplified.

declutter your stuff

What would I take with me if we moved tomorrow?

As I said last week I have moved house nine times in the last thirteen years which has allowed me to reflect a lot as we packed and unpacked our “stuff”.

When you are faced with moving house every item you pack in a box is going to cost you – time packing and unpacking it, and time it takes movers (or yourself) to transport it to the new place which translates into increased costs as the longer it takes to move it the higher the bill at the end.

Pretend you were using your own money to have movers come tomorrow (no fancy company relocation or friends spending their Saturday helping you out for pizza and beers).

Look at your things through that lens of: would you take it with you if you were paying to move it? If the answer is no, think about whether it is time to let it go.

Think about what items in your home you consider essential that you need and use.

What items do you absolutely love? It is okay (and some would say vital) to keep things simply for the pleasure they bring.

What things would you not miss nor feel the need to replace in your new home? These are your potential items to discard now – sell, donate or give away these things to simplify your life.

Are you living in the past instead of the present?

Sometimes things meant something to us once or were part of the life we used to lead. Maybe we got used to having these things in our lives, but now need to stop and consider what it is costing us. Is it more work to keep it in our lives that it would be to let it go? Are we sick of cleaning the items? Are they taking up space and preventing us from bringing in items that reflect who we are now? Do some items represent past interests  and our tastes have changed (especially common with entertainment, books, sports equipment)?

“What if” clutter supports a “what if” life – are you living in the future?

Similar to living in the past we can get stuck living in the future.

What if I need to go back to work (when it has been years since you became a stay at home mom)? I will keep my entire corporate wardrobe.

What if I gain the weight back (or lose this weight finally)? I will keep these clothes that don’t fit this body.

What if I finally get around to regular crafting again? I will keep this stash of supplies that takes up an entire bedroom or closet.

What if I can fix all these things? I will not throw away this pile of slightly broken things and I will keep this assortment of “spare parts” just in case they come in handy for fixing other things.

What if Aunt Lucy visits us finally? I will just keep this lamp (she gave us) I hate so I can put it out if she comes.

What if we finally renovate this house? I will keep every home magazine I have bought so I can find ideas.


The bottom line is to simplify your “stuff” so that your home supports your vision of your life and reduces the roadblocks to achieving your priorities and life goals – whether that includes reducing your stress, making your home more welcoming, easier to maintain or a place for fun or calm (or both).

Challenge this week: Assess your things room by room and start to declutter those things you don’t use or love. Even one shelf or drawer each day will make a huge change over time and can see your whole house covered in less than a year. Move forward at your own pace – just remember to keep moving forward. Schedule in your decluttering sessions whether they will be daily or weekly, 15 minutes or half days…

Additional decluttering reading on the blog:

How to declutter, sort and organise in 5 simple steps  - this is my step by step guide to declutter your home one space at a time. Do not miss one of my best tips which is in step 1 and involves a notebook for taking action as you declutter.

Dealing with sentimental clutter

Dealing with memorabilia, collections and heirlooms

How to finally get organised - After you declutter you will want to get organised (and never before).


Find your simple,



Link up for week 21 – link up any posts for simplify your life and comment on a few other linked posts. Thank you for joining us.

Image credit: Stuff like that by flickr user debaird

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Simply Kate/My Dear Angel May 28, 2012 at 9:51 am

I can completely relate to ‘living in the past’. Backpacker Kate has no place in my life, sadly, as Mother/Wife Kate has taken over so I had a whole shelf of travel writing books taken to Salvos last week. And I can completely relate to ‘what if’. I have a huge folder full of maps and pamphlets from my travels and a box of letters written home, waiting to be typed up into my own travel story. The big ‘what if’ is what if I never get around to it, and hang onto it all forever, for nothing, or, ‘what if’ I throw it out and want to do my own travel story one day. Hmmm. Think I need to go and read those other posts about dealing with memorabilia and sentimental clutter.

Though, I must say, I am fantastic at decluttering the kids stuff! Just had to deal with tears this morning, from both, as they were looking for a toy I had secretly given away. Wanted to play ‘Grandpa in my pocket’ but just couldn’t find Grandpa. “Grandpa went away” just didn’t cut it.
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Debra Dane May 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Maybe going through them will spur you on to thinking more about your story… (travel memorabilia is hard for my husband to let go of – he has kept many of the guidebooks we used just to re-read int he future…)
Debra Dane recently posted..Colour coding to simplify my lifeMy Profile


Emily May 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Ah, what if. My worst enemy. Thanks for the prodding, Deb.
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Debra Dane May 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

You’re welcome Emily – it is a trap for many of us xx
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Bec May 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm

This is a biggie for me…I’m a hoarder – and it’s mainly what if! It seems like my son has the same trait – his room is full of his ‘making’. I need to a) read some more of the links you have posted about decluttering and b) find biggest hurdle is time without the kids to actually do it (but I’m sure I’m not alone in this)
Bec recently posted..Life challenge – week 21 – home auditMy Profile


Debra Dane May 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Good luck Bec – you can literally tackle it one drawer at a time and make good progress!
Debra Dane recently posted..More is not necessarily betterMy Profile


Annaleis @ Teapots and Tractors May 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm

I have started this process at the beginning of the year but still so much to do. Revisited my room today! Shoes and old suitcase gone!


Debra Dane May 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Awesome Anneleis! It is definitely an ongoing process!
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lulu May 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I have not done my home audit yet. The sheet is printed but I have been putting it off because anything I put on it requires money we don`t have right now… We just moved and while there are areas we can work on

There are a couple of small things I can declutter though and I will think more on them- namely my craft supplies, our shoe collection and also some baby items. I have given a lot of baby stuff away but have kept other stuff on the premise that we MIGHT have another baby. Not sure that will ever happen though so perhaps I do need to just purge.

I was going to do this challenge {last weeks I mean} completely different and do a body/health audit on myself and also an audit on our finances as they are the areas I need to work on next I think but am wondering if this will come up later in the challenge??
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Debra Dane May 31, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Yes – body/health and finances are other blocks in the challenge.

You can think of the audit as a [place holder for you so you have plans on what you want to do and don’t worry or think about them just yet. As money becomes available you can tackle what you have prioritized as most important to you. What will have a great impact on how you live etc.
Debra Dane recently posted..Top 10 tips to declutter your bookshelfMy Profile


lulu June 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Finally posted my week 21. Ended up combining it with week 22 since de-cluttering for me has mostly been done already with our move. I will be de-cluttering our finances a bit this month so will be focusing on that as well.

Before writing my post I went back to look at my values and mission statement {on my vision board} and I am happy with what I came up with. The things I wrote were mainly for me and my family- ie the garden be safe for the kids. So I think I am on the right track!
lulu recently posted..Audit & de-clutter {SYL12: Week 21 & 22}…My Profile


Neko December 25, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Hi Debra-
Just wanted to share some examples of what my students do with other folks “clutter”. They create art.
Cheers, Neko
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