5 Steps Toward a Decluttered (and De-Stressed) Life

Decluttering is a journey, not a destination. Start small by blocking off 45 minutes to clean out a closet, plus more ways to organize and live with less.

how to declutter, live with less

Is your closet stuffed with sweaters last worn during the Obama administration? What about towels so threadbare, blankets so stained, or pillows so flat they’d likely be turned away by the local animal shelter? If this hits close to home, you’re probably like many people with ADHD who form loyal attachments to possessions and then resist tossing them when they are no longer wanted or needed. When belongings pile up, shrinking the living space in an area of your house, you know it’s time to commence Operation Declutter.

Keep in mind that decluttering your home is a journey, not a destination. It doesn’t have to happen all at once. Start small. For example, block off 45 minutes to clean a small closet on a Saturday. Do this repeatedly over a few months or longer to chip away at your stacks of stuff.

How to Declutter Your Home

Here are more tips for conquering chaos and creating a more organized living space.

Pick and purge. Go through one category of items, such as clothes, and weed out what no longer fits, is torn or stained, or you no longer want. Toss these directly into the trash bin or place them in a donation pile. Then go on to the next category, perhaps books or toys, or to a specific area, like the kitchen or garage. Invest in storage containers or bins to keep things organized as you pare down.

Grab a partner. Consider “body doubling” (over FaceTime or Zoom) with a friend who is also decluttering. This will help you stay focused and motivated.

[Click to Download: Get Organized in a Weekend] 

Drive and drop. Identify a charity drop box on your regular driving route or near your house. Fill your car with bags and drop them off. Repeat as needed.

Be thrifty. Make an appointment with a consignment shop to sell belongings in good condition. Or, if you live in a neighborhood or on a busy street, place your items outside by the curb with a sign that says, “free stuff.”

Box it up. Put cables, chargers, outlet plates, magnets, random screws, and other odds and ends in a box if you can’t bear to part with them.

How to Live with Less

Once Operation Declutter is complete, apply these ideas to help you live with less:

  • Make a list of things you truly need and only buy items on that list. This will reduce impulse buying.
  • Do not take hand-me-downs from family or friends unless the items were already on your list.
  • Keep bulk shopping to a minimum.
  • Cancel or reduce the frequency of subscriptions.

[Take This Test: Is Your Clutter Out of Control?]

Here’s what ADDitude readers say about decluttering:

“Getting past procrastination and tackling clutter is easier when I’m taking my ADHD medication.”

“Breaking down tasks into smaller tasks to tick off my to-do list creates a sense of achievement — and little dopamine hits to keep me going.”

“I bribe and reward myself when I get things on my list done.”

“My decluttering started five years ago, and it is ongoing.” 

How to Declutter Your Home: Next Steps

Susan C. Pinsky is a professional organizer specializing in ADHD.

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