10 Ways to Increase Your Discard Pile

Strategies for decluttering

Once you've decided to declutter, you might want ideas on how exactly to start reducing what you own.  The good news is that there isn't just one way to go about this task.  You are facing a large project, but there are multiple strategies that could work for you.  Here are ten tried-and-true possibilities. 

1.  One-a-Day

Make or buy a small calendar and mark each day as you remove one unneeded or unloved item.  If you buy a non-consumable item, you must discard two belongings so that the number of your total possessions continues to decrease.  Keep the tally going for as long as necessary.

2.  Hot Spot

Hot spots are places where clutter doesn't belong but tends to gather.  Counters and tables are some of the obvious possibilities.  Notice piles of mail, magazines, purses, backpacks, keys, and dirty dishes.  Maybe there are baskets of laundry, whether dirty or clean, in the hallway.  Does your car harbor trash, fast food cartons, and empty water bottles?  Do cases of toilet paper or soft drinks never make it past the entry hall?  Does the living room floor host discarded toys, scattered shoes, and pillows that are supposed to decorate the couch but actually crowd it?  Start your work in one of these areas.  Clear it completely, and commit to keeping it clear.

3.  Ten Minute Tidy-Up

With three bags (trash, donate, put away/make a home), tackle one small area for ten minutes.  Do a different area tomorrow, and the next day, and so on.

4.  Worst First

Instead of handling a small area, take a day or a weekend and tackle the area that feels the worst.  Get the tough stuff out of the way and you'll feel invigorated!  Ask a friend for help and declutter fearlessly.  Who knows?  You may feel so energized you won't want to stop.

5.  The Combination

Make decluttering part of your daily routine by combining it with a regular task.  For example, as you put away freshly laundered towels, remove frayed and stained towels.  As your child puts toys away or gets ready for bed, remove outgrown, damaged, and rarely-used toys and clothing.  As you put away the groceries, toss outdated items and the seven jelly jars with only a teaspoon of jam in them.  Wipe the shelves before you restock.

6.  Before and After

Use your camera to build decluttering inspiration.  Take pictures, and watch the chaos become order.  If you ever feel discouraged, revisit the photos and remember how far you've come.

7.  Set a Deadline

Pretend you have to move by the end of the month.  Consider the item you are touching.  Would you bother to wrap it in bubble wrap, pack it, load it, haul it, carry it, unpack it, and find a place for it in your new home?  If the answer is no, declutter it now.

8.  Choose a Theme

Declutter one category of items, such as clothes, books, toys, office supplies, kitchen equipment, makeup and toiletries, hobby supplies, tools, or something else.

9.  Keep Current

Speaking of hobby items, such as the quilt you barely started, the dresser you've been meaning to paint and restyle, the old bicycle you planned to refurbish, the drawers full of scrapbooking paper, stickers, and tools....  Here's the question:  Do you want to work on this project right now?  Will you schedule time within the next month to work on it?  If not, abandon it and donate the stuff without guilt.  What you paid for it is already gone, so put it behind you.  Now you're free to consider a new project that actually excites you.

10.  Curate

To curate is to select, organize, and present items in a way that increases enjoyment and understanding.  Museums do it, and so can you.  Rather than being overrun by stacks of mementos we never actually look at, a carefully chosen keepsake stands alone and uncrowded, able to get the attention it deserves.  Fewer mementos may actually help you enjoy more memories!  So choose and display one great photo of a special night with your best college pals, and recycle the piled-up boxes of college notebooks and memorabilia.

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash


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