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How to Be Ruthless When Decluttering: 16 Tips to Help!

How to Be Ruthless When Decluttering: 16 Tips to Help!

Today’s post is all about how to be ruthless when decluttering. Sharing 16 tips you can use to learn to declutter more ruthlessly and get rid of the clutter faster!

There are times when you need to be ruthless when you’re decluttering. Maybe you’re moving and need to get rid of as much clutter as possible. Or maybe you’re ready to dramatically simplify your home and want to get rid of as much clutter as you can. Or maybe there’s another reason motivating you to declutter ruthlessly.

Whatever it is, you want to get rid of as much clutter as you can and make the most of your decluttering time.

If you’re ready to learn how to be ruthless when decluttering, today’s post is definitely for you!

You’ll learn 16 tips, tricks and hacks you can use to declutter more ruthlessly and get rid of a bunch of clutter from your home.

How to Be Ruthless When Decluttering: 16 tips to help!
Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

How to be ruthless when decluttering

In no particular order, here are 16 tips to help you learn how to be ruthless when decluttering!

1. Get in the right frame of mind

If you want to be ruthless while you’re decluttering, it’s important to be in the right frame of mind before you start.

Get yourself motivated to declutter by reminding yourself of the benefits and what you stand to gain. Read an article that inspires you, listen to a podcast or watch a YouTube video about decluttering while you’re working.

Think about your goals, your vision for your home and why you want to declutter in the first place. Then remember that each piece of clutter your remove is taking you one step closer to reaching those goals. The more you can declutter today, the faster you’ll reach your goals and your vision for your home and life.

2. Start with easier spaces

Decluttering is a skill you get better at the more your practice it. Letting go becomes easier the more you let go. And you get more confident in your decluttering decisions the more you make them and start experiencing the benefits of decluttering.

If you want to improve your decluttering skills, start with easier spaces to declutter so you can build your skills, along with your momentum, motivation and confidence in your ability to declutter.

Don’t start decluttering by tackling your sentimental items or a really overwhelming space. Instead, start in a smaller space and tackle one small decluttering project at a time. Start somewhere where you can make less emotional and more logical decluttering decisions to build your decluttering skills.

Places like the bathroom, the linen closet, the pantry, your cleaning supplies cupboard or even a coat closet are all great places to start.

Build your decluttering skills so that when you start working on the tougher spaces or categories of stuff you’ll already have strong decluttering skills.

3. Ask key questions

Everything you choose to keep should be something you either use regularly or love.

Keep your focus on being ruthless as you’re decluttering by asking some key questions for each item as you work through a space decluttering. Ask things like:

  • Do you love it?
  • Do you use it regularly?
  • When was the last time you used it?
  • Do you have something else you usually use instead?
  • Is this item adding enough value to your life to justify the time and space it takes up?
  • Could you comfortably live without this item?

4. Set goals and reward yourself

Another great way to help you learn how to be more ruthless when decluttering is by setting decluttering goals with rewards attached to them. Goals and rewards are a great way to get motivated, and definitely work when you’re decluttering.

For example, set a goal to finish decluttering a certain space by a certain date. When you reach your goal, reward yourself with something you’ll enjoy.

Ideally, choose “non-thing” rewards so you won’t end up adding more clutter to your home. Things like a nice meal out, a spa treatment, tickets to an event you’ll enjoy, or a treat you love are all great “non-thing” rewards.

5. Challenge yourself

Another way to set decluttering goals is challenging yourself to fill a certain number of bags or boxes with stuff to get rid of by a certain date. Not only is a challenge a fun way to motivate yourself to be more ruthless. But again, you can attach a reward to the goal here too!

For example, challenge yourself to fill 4 boxes of stuff to declutter by the end of the month. Or challenge yourself to fill one bag of stuff to declutter each week.

Whatever it is, give yourself a clearly defined goal to work toward!

6. Use a timer

Using a timer is another fun way to challenge yourself and help stay focused on decluttering.

Set a timer for a set amount of time, maybe 15 to 30 minutes and see how many items you can find to declutter in that time.

See if you can beat your record each time you declutter by finding a few more items to declutter than you did last time.

A timer is a great tool to use when you don’t feel like decluttering or struggle to stay focused. Telling yourself you only have to declutter for 15 minutes doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Plus, the timer is a great way to help keep your focus on decluttering rather than getting sidetracked doing other things.

7. Get rid of extra storage furniture and bins

If you’re really serious about ruthlessly decluttering, get rid of the extra storage furniture and bins that seem to collect clutter.

When storing the clutter is no longer an option, you have no choice but to make ruthless decluttering decisions and get the clutter out of your house. Forcing yourself to deal with the clutter and make decisions about it rather than tucking it away.

8. Let go of sunk costs

Sunk cost is a business term referring to the money already spent on a certain action or decision. Because the money has already been spent and can’t be recovered, sunk costs should not impact future decisions or actions.

Sunk costs apply to decluttering decisions because it’s easy to keep things you don’t use or love, but spent a lot of money on. But the money you spent is a sunk cost. Keeping the item won’t recoup the money you spent. It will just keep the clutter hanging around your home.

Identify when the original cost of an item is a sunk cost and start making decluttering decisions based on the current value the item adds to your life. Not what you paid for it originally. If it’s not something you currently use or love, get rid of it.

9. Trust your gut

It’s easy to talk yourself into keeping things as you’re decluttering, even when you know you don’t use or love the items.

If you want to be ruthless when decluttering, start paying attention to your first reaction to an item. If you don’t immediately love it or know you use it regularly, let it go. And if you’re not sure, that’s probably an indication you don’t use or love it.

Hold each item up and if you can’t immediately say yes when you ask if you love it or use it regularly, get rid of it.

10. Be realistic about broken items

As you’re decluttering, if you come across broken items or items in need of repair be really realistic about whether you’ll repair them or not.

Often, broken items or items needing repair hang around for weeks or months causing clutter.

If you can’t be bothered to fix items right away, chances are you probably won’t. If it was something you use or love, fixing it would be a priority because you would miss it in your daily life.

Notice that if you’ve been getting along just fine without the item while it was waiting to be repaired, you likely don’t need or miss it at all.

11. Identify duplicates

An easy way to be more ruthless as you’re decluttering is by getting rid of duplicate items. Duplicates are items you have multiples of the same item or items that have a similar function.

Keep your favourite, the one that’s in the best condition or the item you choose to use most often and get rid of the extras.

12. Use space limits

Space limits are a great way to encourage yourself to be more ruthless as you’re decluttering.

Choose where you’ll keep each category of stuff you’re decluttering. Then let that space become the limit to decide how many items you can comfortably keep. Let the space dictate what you can keep and how ruthless you need to be.

For example, your bookshelf becomes the space limit for how many books you can comfortably keep. Your cupboard becomes the space limit for how many mugs you can comfortably keep. The number of hangers in your closet becomes the space limit for how many articles of clothing you can keep.

Let the boundary or space limit be the deciding factor about how ruthless you need to be.

13. Stop moving clutter

If you have boxes that you’ve never unpacked from your last move, that’s a good indication the items in those boxes aren’t things you love or use regularly.

Go through those boxes and be especially ruthless with the stuff inside. Remind yourself that you haven’t used, need or likely even thought about the stuff in those boxes for quite some time.

14. Get things out of the house right away

If you want to be ruthless when you’re decluttering, don’t let the items you’ve decided to get rid of hang around the house. Drop them off at your donation center soon after decluttering so you don’t have time to second guess your decluttering decisions. Or risk any of those items finding their way back into your home.

Schedule times to drop off donations frequently as you’re decluttering so you can get items out of your house for good.

15. Stop clutter at the source

Another great way to support your decluttering efforts is by stopping clutter before it even has a chance to enter your home.

Start becoming really mindful about what you’re buying and bringing into your home. Think about the stuff you’re decluttering and try to prevent more clutter from filling your home. Try to think if the stuff you’re buying today will be stuff you’re working to declutter in 6 months or a year.

Really assess if you need or love each item before you buy it. Try waiting at least 24 hours between seeing something you’d like and buying it. Or even better, put yourself on a spending freeze and commit to not buying anything other than food and essentials for a set amount of time.

16. If you’re really struggling, try a “maybe box”

If you’re really struggling to let go of items, try a maybe box.

A maybe box is like a decluttering safety net. It lets you experiment with being more ruthless with your decluttering decisions, without worrying you’ll regret getting rid of something. Essentially, it lets you try living without certain items to see if you’ll miss them.

Put items you’re unsure about getting rid of in a maybe box. Then seal the box, and put it away somewhere. Set a reminder in your phone for some point in the future, maybe 1 to 3 months from now.

When you get the reminder, if you haven’t needed, wanted or even thought about what’s in your maybe box, you can confidently get rid of it. Knowing you’ll be just fine without it.

Of course, you can’t put everything in a maybe box or you’ll just be shuffling clutter from one spot to another. But if there are a few items you’re struggling to make decisions about, a maybe box can be a great tool to help!

How to be ruthless when decluttering

I hope these tips will help you be more ruthless as you’re decluttering. Helping you can clear the clutter faster, easier and reach your decluttering goals sooner!

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