Weekend Projects

Weekend Projects: Declutter an Area You Think Will Fill Up

published Dec 3, 2021
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Millennial man organizing his book collections
Credit: Getty Images/ Kemal Yildirim

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

One of the best (and least obvious) decluttering tips is to prevent clutter before items enter your home. You may have heard of the one-in, one-out rule, which instructs minimalists and clutter-resisters to donate or toss one item for every new thing they bring into their home. The idea is that, theoretically, you’ll never become overrun with stuff because you’ll never have more than you have right now.

I don’t know about you, but I can never remember to do this! I’ll try harder because I think it’s a great strategy, but these days, I declutter when I can’t stand an overstuffed, disorganized space even one more second. But I’d love to switch from an approach that’s more like putting out clutter fires to one that prevents the “fire” in the first place.

This weekend, just prior to a likely influx of new things over the course of the next month, we’re going to do an exercise that does just that.

This Weekend: Declutter an area you think will fill up.

You may have a good idea of what kinds of gifts friends and family will send to your household for the holidays. In anticipation of them, focus your attention on the areas of your home or the categories of items that you think may fill up.

Here are some examples:

Toys. If you have young children, you may experience an influx of toys. Before this happens, go through your existing toys. Involve your kids if you can, explaining beforehand what you are going to do together and why. Point out that they can send off the toys they’ve outgrown to other children who will love and play with them.

Clothing. Maybe you open a matching set of Christmas PJs on Christmas Eve. Go through and donate any pajamas and loungewear that are outgrown or no longer used. Or maybe you and your sibling(s) gift each other a nice, cozy sweater every winter. Sort through your collection and pass along anything you don’t reach for any more.

Kitchenware. If you love to cook and bake, your loved ones know this and no doubt support you (and enjoy the fruits of your labor!). You may be receiving new cookware, bakeware, and cooking tools. To prepare, and to avoid overcrowded drawers and cupboards, thin out your current collection to the “best, favorite, and necessary.”

Books. Gifting books is a favorite way for bibliophiles to spread their love of reading with one another. If you expect your library to grow this season, consider culling your current book collection. It might feel like sacrilege, but remember that for the extraordinary to shine, you have to edit out the just-okays. Rather than maintaining a watered-down assemblage that includes books you would never reread or recommend, take this opportunity to transform your library into a set of tomes that express who you are.

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You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.