Marie Kondo’s influence on pop culture remains powerful, and as such, we are all looking for ways to declutter and get rid of junk. It’s supposed to make us feel better about our surroundings, by giving everything a clean and minimalist feel, and it’s also good for the environment since we avoid buying more stuff than we need. However, it can also be hard to know where to start. Especially if you’ve been living at the same place for decades, you probably feel emotionally attached to many, many things you no longer need but don’t have the heart to trash. Here are a few tips to help make the process of decluttering less painful.


1. Create Better Habits

As with most things in life, prevention is the best way out of a potential problem. Start small by creating good habits that will prevent you from hoarding big piles of clutter for no reason. For example, make a point of arranging the clothes in your closet every other month, to make sure you’re not overlooking any clothes you’d like to wear. This practice will eventually help you identify items you haven’t worn and definitely don’t want that you can donate to a local charity.

Another good habit to exercise is something as simple as cleaning up as you move around the house. Are you in the kitchen cooking and meal prepping? As food is left to stew on the stove, clean up the kitchen counters and remove any lingering messes, or remove small appliances you never use. Staying on top of things will make the process of decluttering easier to tackle in the long run.


2. Look for Storage Options

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a larger home with an attached garage, cellar, or attic, you should put these spaces to good use immediately and think of them as storage options. If you don’t have the space, and you definitely need to hold onto a few items, then self storage facilities can also be a useful option to consider. If you truly need to clear up the clutter, make sure to tackle each room in the house, one at a time, and itemize the things you may need to keep, but far away in an area separate from your living space. Storage solutions are one way to simplify the task of finding enough room for all your precious belongings, without feeling as though you will have to drown in a ton of material clogging your immediate vicinity. 


3. Think About Your Needs

This sounds fairly simple, but it’s very important to deal with clutter according to your needs, and not what anyone else says you need. Lots of people go into the process of decluttering thinking that their space needs to be all white and minimalistic, like certain famous reality TV stars, since that style tends to connote wealth and freedom these days. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and you can approach the process however you see fit.


4. Buy Carefully

One way to avoid the pitfall of buying more than you need is to control your spending. Don’t buy anything new and shiny till you’ve committed to getting rid of at least one item. If you have a weakness for stationery, for example, try to do a sort of detox, and don’t buy another notebook till you’ve filled up the ones you already have, or commit to giving them away. The more thoughtful you become about your purchases, the more apt you’ll be at dealing with clutter.


5. Draft a Checklist

Decluttering can be daunting, so it makes sense to simplify the process by first writing down the things you hope to get rid of. Go from one room to another, carefully assessing the things you use and those you don’t, and pinpoint any object that could be of use to someone else. As you move along, be sure to keep track of the things you can donate, versus what you would like to hold onto.


6. Decor Edit

One of the things that tend to take up a lot of room, but we’re often remiss in getting rid of, is all the home decor we tend to accumulate. Pretty but useless pillows and an overabundance of wall art can become cumbersome over time. It helps to review the kind of material you have and determine the things you can get rid of, versus those you’d like to keep.


Getting organized doesn’t happen overnight, and the process of decluttering can become overly taxing if you try to do it all in one go. Taking the slow and steady approach works best, and be patient with yourself – you don’t have to make a decision on an item you genuinely like right away. Give yourself time to assess your needs, and the rest will follow.