How to Get Rid of Stuff: 9 Tricks for Making the Task Easier

updated Feb 25, 2023
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Want to do some decluttering this weekend? Many of us struggle with getting rid of things. Do you ever envy those who enjoy clutter-free homes because they don’t give a second thought to tossing something out? You don’t have to have been born with this ability naturally; there are shortcuts to help anyone clean out and throw away things that are cluttering the home, and we’re letting you in on some secrets.

Whether you’re trying to declutter a closet, a whole room, or your entire house, these ideas might help next time you need to get rid of stuff.

1. Get inspired.

If there’s one universal truth, it’s that it’s quite difficult to declutter without a dose of inspiration. Get amped to pare down when you check out Marie Kondo’s popular book or better yet, her  TV series, “Sparking Joy.” 

2. Use a decluttering calendar.

Another way to get the job done if you’re feeling unmotivated to tackle your entire home at once is to use a decluttering calendar. There are a bunch of great printable ones to check out on Etsy, or you could create your own. In short, the idea is to simply declutter one area of your home (like a drawer or cabinet) each day. 

3. Examine your motivation.

When it comes to decluttering, it helps to know your why. What’s driving you to declutter? What’s your end goal? Are you simply looking to have everything in your home have a place of its own, or are you diving head-first into a minimalist lifestyle? Starting with a goal in mind is a great way to ensure you cross the finish line. 

4. Follow the 80/20 rule.

Most people today have far too many possessions. But in reality, studies show we use only 20% of our things 80% of the time. It’s called the 80/20 rule. It’s helpful to remember this when paring down; do you really need six pairs of black jeans, or will just two get the job done? This rule can apply to things other than your wardrobe, too. Apply it anywhere you have a bunch of the same or similar items. 

5. Make a list of acceptable “must-keep” things.

When absolutely no item-tossing-out decisions need to be made, make a list of the things you do consider to be important and worth holding on to. This could be anything that you think deserves keeping.

Next time you come across something you think might be worth throwing out or giving away, go over your list. If you don’t see it on there, you might be able to get rid of it it’s easier knowing you’ve already decided this isn’t something worth holding on to or cluttering your life with.

6. Come up with a concrete way to use the items.

Next time you feel that pull to keep something “just in case,” make yourself come up with an actual way you’ll be using it in, like, the next month. If you can’t come up with a specific way in which you’ll use or refer back to the item in the next month, let it go.

7. Move it out before you toss it out.

Don’t throw things away or even deal with them just yet. Move everything out of the area you want to be decluttered first. Why? This puts the end results of a successful decluttering right before your eyes before you do any of the work. Seeing and feeling how great the space now feels might make departing with items easier.

8. Start out in a simple spot.

Don’t try to dive right into clearing out your closet if you know it’s going to be hard for you to throw away or donate old but perfectly good clothes (even if you haven’t worn them in years). Start instead in a spot with something that obviously needs throwing out.

For instance, it could be as simple as the kitchen trash. Or it could be the junk mail pile. Use that feel-good motivation to propel you to declutter a harder or bigger area next. And then keep that ball rolling as long as you can.

9. Procrastinate (really!)

Is throwing away things hard…even a task you hate? Then the perfect time to try and get through this disliked task is when you have a task you dislike even more waiting to be done! Next time you find yourself putting something off, consider spending that procrastination time attempting to declutter an area of the house.

Do you have any secrets to tricking your brain into wanting to declutter an area in your home? Share in the comments below!