March 13, 2023

My strategy to declutter


I have decided that 2023 is the year that I declutter my house once and for all.  I sorted my Mum’s house after she died and it took me months as she had saved everything, including bills back to 1976 and so I don’t want my children to have to deal with that.  My home has always been a bit cluttered, but since Mr S moved in with all his building and baking stuff, the house has been bursting at the seams.  Clutter causes stress.  I can’t count on my fingers how many times I have opened a cupboard and things have fallen out.  I have this aversion to taking things to the dump but my house was feeling like a dump. I started decluttering properly last year and have done more this year, and at the moment I am getting so much pleasure from opening my clothes drawers and cupboards. They open easily again and I can easily find what I need.  When sorting them out last month I also found some lovely things that I had forgotten that I had.  Decluttering can save you money as I was going to buy myself a white shirt this year and found two nice ones hidden away in the back of the cupboard.

Every year I declutter odd cupboards and think that I am doing a good job but, although things are a bit better organised, we still have so much stuff that we do not need.  Part of me doesn’t want to get rid of things that we have got two of in case we stop living together, and the other part of me can not bare to part with things that I don’t particularly like but they are worth money or were expensive.  I started off this year with a bang and have taken about 12 bags to the charity stop, thrown about 4 bags of things away and sold a couple of things but then I noticed that I had slowed down and the clutter was creeping back in (especially on my bedroom chair) and so I thought I had better get my mojo back and make a strategy for decluttering.  This is what I am going to do.


A cluttered house can seem overwhelming.  I tend to procrastinate if I am overwhelmed and so I am starting by tackling small areas at a time.  Each room I have split into about 8 areas.  Each week I intending to tackle 2 areas of a room.    That means that each month I will have tackled and decluttered a whole room.  As I declutter I will also spring clean it.  By doing small areas I will not become bored and give up and I will not become too tired.  Making decisions about what you will keep and what you will get rid of can be quite stressful and emotional if some things have sentimental value.  I have items that belonged to my Mum that I don’t need or want, but I have not got to the stage that I can let them go yet as she only died 18 months ago.  I therefore have a blanket box that I put these things in and every 3 months I will go through it again and a few more items will go to the charity shop.  I am doing it at my own pace.  It is important not to put too much pressure on yourself to let things go.


When I moved into my house there was very little storage.  For years there were things hanging around as there was nowhere to store them.  I had a whole spare room that was a dumping ground.  If things are stored away, this reduces the feeling of clutter and can make the task less overwhelming. Adequate storage is needed for things to look tidy.  We have now built cupboards in alcoves, stored plastic boxes under the bed, bought furniture with lots of storage including a blanket box, built shelves, used hooks on the back of doors and hooks inside cupboard doors to hang things.  Items are also stored on top of the wardrobe in nice boxes.  Storage does not have to be expensive.  Items can be recycled to use as storage.  I use a basket as a vegetable rack which is useful, but also looks nice.  I use recycled plastic boxes in the fridge to keep all the cheese together or to stand sauce bottles in. As I declutter, I realise I do not have to buy any more storage items as I have enough when the things that I don’t need have gone.


I have found that giving everything a home helps me. It has made it a lot easier to be tidy.  It might sit at the bottom of the stairs for the day but then it goes back upstairs and into it’s place.  Mr S knows not to go upstairs now with empty hands.  Every day I do a 10 minute tidy so that things that need putting away do not build up into a big job.  The house feels tidier that way and it does not feel a chore as it has become a habit that I do automatically.


There is no point in decluttering my home if I am just going to fill any space made with new items.  I am therefore only going to buy things that I really need or want.  There will be no unplanned spending.  If I want and buy a new jumper I will then get rid of an old one.  Sometimes I will put things into my basket that I would like but then take them out before I get to the till.  I have got a lot better at not buying things as my mindset has changed.


Some of my cupboards are really deep and so I lose things at the back of them.  I have now bought some transparent boxes to put inside the cupboards with similar things inside each one.  I have a couple with my craft items in.  I have some with sports stuff in.  Some with camping things in etc.  In the chest freezer I have decluttered it by using big different coloured shopping bags inside and each category of food has a different coloured bag.  All the meat and fish are in one, vegetables in another, baked items in another and fruit in another.  That way nothing gets lost at the bottom of the freezer and I can just take a bag out and look for something.  I also keep an inventory for my stock cupboard and my freezer so that I am not buying more of what I do not need.


For the first 5 years of my retirement I kept jumpers and coats that I did not really like because I thought that I might not be able to afford any more clothes.  I didn’t wear them because they didn’t suit me and I didn’t feel good in them.  I also used to keep things of value because it felt like a waste of money giving it away, but nobody would probably want to buy it.  I am getting better  this year at telling myself that the money was spent a long time ago, I am not using it and so it is just taking up valuable space that I need.  I now ask myself if something brings me joy or I if I will need it. If the answer is negative then those things are going to charity or to be sold.  I am only going to keep the best of anything.  Any chipped, snagged, or things with a hole in are gone, even if it is my favourite, comfy jumper.  I am not going to let fear make decisions for me any more.  There is no reason that I cannot keep surviving on a low income.  I have done it so far for 8 years.


I have found in the past that when I have put lots of things to go to the charity shop in a bag, if I leave them around for a while, I will have second thoughts and take a few things out.  I now try to take the bags to the shop on the same day.  If I can not take them that same day I put them in the boot of my car so that I am not tempted and they are out of sight, out of mind.


As I mentioned before, decluttering can feel emotional.  I therefore do not want to put pressure on myself.  If I cannot face it one week and am not in the right mindset, I will not do it properly anyway.  I can always catch up another time and I am setting my own dead lines and can change them if I want to.  I usually put some ‘feel good’ music on when I am decluttering and sing away to it.  This makes decluttering less stressful for me.


How do you motivate yourself to declutter and which strategies do you use?


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  1. Christina Stores March 13, 2023 at 6:40 am - Reply

    Thank you for this lovely blog. Genius idea of colour coding bags in the freezer!

    • ToniG March 13, 2023 at 6:46 am - Reply

      Thank you, and thanks for commenting. It is easier on the back as I just take the bag out and go through it on the table instead of nearly falling into the freezer. I use the big Aldi bags for life

  2. Carol Pearson March 13, 2023 at 7:27 am - Reply

    Excellent advice and no pressure on oneself until ready to tackle it. Small areas of a room to decluttering particularly good idea. I must admit I’m good at decluttering but have to keep on top of it continually which is fine but not for everyone. And when you find clothing you’d forgotten it’s like having something new 😁

    • ToniG March 16, 2023 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      I know I found a whole box of holiday clothes under the bed that I had forgotten were there! Thanks for commenting x

  3. Julie Barton March 13, 2023 at 9:04 am - Reply

    Just the perfect inspiration I needed, down in dumps and yes clutter dosent help will tackle the tea towel drawer today and keep the good ones but dedicate others to the duster box cutting them up first so no going back in the tea towels draw x

    • ToniG March 16, 2023 at 4:31 pm - Reply

      I hope that you are feeling less down in the dumps now and that you have got a few things decluttered this week. Good idea about the tea towels. My Gran used to use my Grandad’s old vests!

  4. Masha White March 13, 2023 at 10:08 am - Reply

    I love your blogs. Everything you say resonates with me. I feel I am on the same decluttering journey and for the same reasons. Two things I have learnt: the one minute rule and one touch rule. If it takes less than a minute, do it now; put it in the right place not nearby(double handling).
    The other thing is getting rid of things you don’t like which were expensive. Each birthday we bought my mother in law a Royal Doulton figurine. They have been in our loft for 25 years. I was loath to take them to the charity shop as they cost a lot. But here’s the thing: they are of NO value to me but someone else might love them. They are off to the charity shop tomorrow.

  5. Lesley March 13, 2023 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Thanks for this, Toni. It’s very timely for me. I have so much to weed out!! X

  6. Julia March 13, 2023 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this timely blogg, I had one room full of stuff which now needs one more session to finish. Also ready is the garage are items in separate piles all set for the end of the month as the recycling place opens till 6. Looking forward to a good sort out I’m amazed at how “light” I feel

    • ToniG March 16, 2023 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      I remember your garage! Well done with all your decluttering and I am glad that it is helping you feel lighter x

  7. Francie Fuhrel March 13, 2023 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    This is something I desperately need to do but after a good start 2 years ago, I have frozen up and not progressed. All great advice here. Perhaps I can get back to it. Lots of things were my husband’s and he died almost 6 years ago. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • ToniG March 16, 2023 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      Bless you, that must be hard. I hope that if you take it little and often that you will find it easier x

  8. CurlyTop March 13, 2023 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    An approach similar to what I follow Toni. We don’t have children but nevertheless, I wouldn’t like to burden my nieces with the issue of clearing everything out when we go.

    Since buying a house many moons ago, I just see clothes as a necessitynow. I still have clothes don’t get me wrong …wouldn’t want to wish that image burnt on folks retinas, that’s for sure. They are more considered purchases now.

    Greeting cards is my one thing that I have tons of. I have decided that at some point this year I will be letting them go. Some nice ones will be turned into bookmarks because I’m a sucker for buying those and they will serve as a reminder of the person who sent me the card. I will also make greeting labels from some of them too.

    Little and often is the way I find and your approach makes sense. You don’t want to wear yourself our lose the momentum.

    When I’m feeling brighter health wise, this is something that I will start to arrange. I love me a good list so whilst I’ve been resting, I’m scribbling lists of things I want to do.

    Best of luck

    • ToniG March 16, 2023 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Thank you. I am a list person too. They keep me motivated. I hope that your health improves soon x

  9. Linda March 13, 2023 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks for blogging, I’m glad to have discovered your writing.
    Like you I find it difficult to get rid of duplicate items that would cost a lot of money to replace. I am lucky enough to have a dedicated space where they can be hidden away until needed, they’re not cluttering up my living space or headspace, and are an insurance for the future. My parents had an area in their attic like this, and it proved very useful when they were living on a fixed income.
    While the winter is still upon us I’m doing my very best to purge, organize and tidy my house and garage once and for all. Having cleared my late parents’ and husband’s belongings I know how harrowing this can be, so I’m doing everything I can to make it easier for my children when the time comes.
    Buy Nothing is big in my neighborhood and it’s great to see my unwanted items gratefully received and put to good use. I don’t need 3 hammers, sweaters that no longer fit, or the electric hotplate I used when my kitchen was being remodeled.
    I’ve weeded my wardrobe down to a “capsule wardrobe” but still occasionally add the odd, random item of clothing that really takes my fancy. The pleasure these items bring outweighs any visual clutter and I’m such a bargain hunter that they make me smile every time I see or wear them.

    • ToniG March 16, 2023 at 4:15 pm - Reply

      We all need to spoil ourselves sometimes. Thanks for sharing x

  10. Kathryn Naden March 13, 2023 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Love your blog thank you. I have taken on board your freezer bag idea & use a freezer stock list that I link to my meal planner . I can identify with Masha & recently gave away a dinner service we used on Christmas Day & wanted to have something lovely we could use every day so did the deed & gave it to our lovely Charity shop who are going to put it in a Vintage webselling site so I feel really good about this .
    I also identify with Curly Top I have a big bundle of cards & notes from Auntie D they are precious memories I’ve seen some pictures made sewing cards & sewing box contents together to make collage pictures . I’m thinking I could do this when I can bring myself to take them apart . You are right it’s such a personal emotional experience.

    • ToniG March 16, 2023 at 4:19 pm - Reply

      It is funny how some days I can not bare to part with something and then 3 months later I feel ok to let it go. I am glad that you feel better about the dinner service, and the collage is a lovely idea. We just have to do it when the time is right for us, don’t we? x.

  11. Sara Baker March 14, 2023 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Some really good advice here . I do the same with charity shop stuff , it goes into the car straight away before I’m tempted to pull things out again .
    We moved from a 5 bed house with a 2 barns and running a curiosity shop to a tiny cottage , really teeny weeny , it was a massive wrench and took it out of us physically too, had to be done though .I still yearn for my ‘ stuff’ but things are getting better , we’ve now got a cabin in the garden and quite a bit of my stuff is nestling there .we’ve begun to sell ‘ stock ‘ online so changing things into money .
    I does get easier

    • ToniG March 16, 2023 at 4:13 pm - Reply

      that must be hard and great that you are able to sell some of your things for money. Thanks for commenting x

  12. Eve March 14, 2023 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this blog as I love decluttering. Im quite a minimalist now. I go through my stuff on a regular basis and the more you do the easier it becomes. I will suggest one thing though, leave sentimental items till last. As you declutter all the items that don’t really pull on your “heart strings” you will become more honed in to getting rid of stuff. I love the idea of Swedish death cleaning as it makes a lot of sense to me.

    • ToniG March 16, 2023 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      Well done with your decluttering. I don’t think I will ever be a minimalist but my house is less cluttered than it was and is not as overwhelming. A good idea about the sentimental things. I keep relooking at them but haven’t got rid of everything I should have. A few things go each time, though. Thanks for commenting

  13. Eve March 16, 2023 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Thank you Toni.
    I must say though that I live in a small one bed flat so I need to declutter regularly otherwise I would have no room to breathe and I enjoy open spaces.
    Sentimental items are the hardest to tackle and it took me several years to thin them out. As you say little and often. Funny how we spend half our lives accumulating stuff and the other half getting rid.

  14. Anne May 4, 2023 at 5:40 am - Reply

    Just discovered your website after reading facebook posts for a long time! Inspirational!

    • ToniG May 4, 2023 at 9:23 am - Reply

      Thank you. Glad that you have found me here too x

  15. Gilliane Williams May 13, 2023 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Thankyou for giving practical tips on how to approach decluttering in a systematic and sustainable way. I appreciate how the author emphasizes the importance of identifying the root causes of clutter and addressing them to prevent clutter from building up again in the future

    • ToniG May 14, 2023 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      No worries. I hope that it helps. Thanks for your comment

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