Clutter Busting, Step by Step

If you want to try to clutter bust on your own, here's a few steps that I find to be very useful.


Pick a small doable area. Be kind to yourself and pick an area to begin that's easily within your abilities.

Make sure you eat before you start. Clutter busting burns up a lot of calories. You want fuel to burn.

Have water by your side. Take regular sips while you're working. You want to prevent getting dehydrated, which can make you tired and foggy-headed.

Get trash bags. Have a nearby container of trash bags. Pull one out for trash, one for recycling, and one for charity.

Set a timer. Because you'll be working amidst disorganization, you'll need something to keep your head on straight. A timer tells you that you're only working for a certain amount of time that's doable. Pick an amount of time that's a little less than you think you can do.

Remove distractions. Turn off the ringer and text notifier on your cell phone. Otherwise it's too easy to be distracted by an incoming call or text. Plus it will be nice to have the break from your phone.

Give yourself a prep talk.  Have a short and out-loud prep talk with yourself. Make it kind and encouraging. Avoid any criticism. You want to feel like you have your back. 


Take everything and move it. In your small, doable area, take everything out (the clothes from the drawer, for instance), and move it to a new location. When things are in a new location, we can see them for what they are.

Consider one thing at a time. Pick up one thing at a time. You do better when your focus is only on one item. Ask yourself, "Do I love and use this, or can I let it go?" You want to see how you are feeling about this right now. You might have loved and used this thing for years, but now you don't. Maybe you never cared for it. It's either, "Yes" or "No." An inner debate is a red flag that something is no longer for you.

Put it in the bag. When you find something that no longer serves you, put it either in the trash, recycle or donate bag. This gives you a strong sense of completion with the item.

Complete a task. When you come across something that you're keeping, take it to its home now. The things we care about need a place to land so we can know where to find them.

Ask about the space. Every now and then stop and notice the new open space you've created. It may only be a foot of new fresh space. Regardless of how big it is, ask, "How does this feel to me?" Space is rejuvenating and gives you peace of mind. The more you recognize it, the more you want to protect it.

Encourage yourself! Take the time to encourage your clutter busting endeavors. It feels good to be noticed for our accomplishments, even if it's from ourselves. It gives you the juice to keep going.


Stop when the timer goes off. Make a decision on the last item in your hands. Take the trash and recycling to their respective bins. Put the charity items in your car. Then stop. You may feel like continuing. But you want to avoid going too far and burning out. The more satisfied and energized you feel, the more you'll want to do this again. Set a time with yourself for the next session.

Leave the space free. Many of my clients have the urge to fill up the new, open space. I encourage you instead to leave it open, at least for a week, before you decide to put something new there.


Call me or a friend. If you couldn't follow these steps, or if you feel overwhelmed, you may need extra support. That's not a big deal, it's why I'm here. Please call me to set up a phone clutter bust (trust me, it works over the phone) at (310) 903-1041. Also, in the last chapter of my book Clutter Busting Your Life, I describe how to clutter bust with a friend.