Understanding Clutter And A Simple Decluttering Plan To Get Rid Of It

It happens to everyone at one point or another – we look around our home and think, “Man, I have a LOT of CRAP! What do I DO with it all?!?!”

You know what all that STUFF is?

It’s CLUTTER – and odds are good that all that clutter is suffocating you.

Do you really understand clutter… what it is AND what to DO about it?

That’s what we’re talking about today.

After someone new to the concept of DEcluttering truly acknowledges that they have TOO MUCH STUFF, they all naturally do the 2 biggest decluttering mistakes of all that EVERYONE needs to know BEFORE they declutter ANYTHING.

understanding clutter plus declutter plan to get rid of it

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Decluttering Mistakes

Before we even START talking about clutter and DEcluttering, I have to mention this two things –

There are five HUGE mistakes many people make when attempting to clear clutter from their homes. These are the two biggest mistakes of all:

1. They go about the futile process of trying to ORGANIZE their clutter, and

2. They work hard to HIDE their clutter in closets, drawers, cabinets and “catch all” rooms (ie, the guest room, the basement, the attic, etc)

Short term – sure, those 2 actions give you an immediate feeling of a clean and clutter-free home, and it’s a quick and easy way to “Emergency Clean


Long term – Those 2 things do NOT work.

In time, all that “organized clutter” WILL become a cluttered mess again.

And, all those spaces with your hidden clutter will become full and you’ll run out of places to hide your clutter.

In short, your house will become even MORE cluttered than it was before you started fixing it.

Make sense?

To really purge the clutter from your home and your LIFE, you have to first start by understanding clutter and then initiating a simple plan of attack to get rid of it.

Clutter 101

So, let’s start at the beginning…

1. What is clutter?

The dictionary describes clutter as:

• “things scattered in disorder”
• “to litter with things in a disorderly way”

That’s how the dictionary defines clutter but, to me, clutter is anything we do not need, want, or use that takes up space and creates disorder in our life.

Clutter can be anything from clothes to magazines, books, newspapers, toys, nick-knacks or even furniture.

These are just a few of the items that can clutter up your life and might even be a real problem for YOU.

Clutter Tolerance is different for EVERYONE – what feels “cluttered” to ME may not bother YOU one bit.

And that’s ok!

Some folks struggle with Clutter Hot Spots (like I do)…

Or they are literally dealing with clutter EVERYWHERE in their home.

It could be a drawer, a closet, a room…

Paper clutter is a BIG issue for many people, too!

Almost anything you own can become clutter if you let it get out of control – and reality is: YOU know your clutter when you see it because you FEEL it.

And let me tell you this – you are NOT ALONE.

The statistics about clutter and the toll it takes on us is overwhelming!

understanding clutter statistics

2. How is a Clutterer defined?

A clutterer is a person that becomes overwhelmed by their stuff. A clutterer is emotionally attached to their belongings, but is not so emotionally attached that they are unable to part with items if they really need to.

Basically, they (WE) are people that are disorganized and fail to find the time to declutter; therefore, things just pile up.

3. What is a Hoarder?

Hoarding is the excessive accumulation of items. Hoarders become so emotionally attached to everything they are unable to differentiate trash from items of real value. Hoarding can be a psychological disorder that creates health and safety issues in the life of the hoarder and those around them.

Here are some tips to help a hoarder declutter.

4. Difference between a Clutterer and a Hoarder

Being a clutterer does not mean you are a hoarder (we call it being a “pack rat” – which was MY problem).

And as the chart below from Hoarders911 shows, there are different LEVELS of a “hoarding disorder”:

understanding a hoarder and how to help them declutter

You might look around your house and THINK that YOU might be a hoarder, but that chart above will probably confirm that you might just be a cluttered messy person (been there, done that!)

Clutter results from the inability to keep up with household chores. Unlike the hoarder, the clutterer knows the true value of items and has the ability to let go of items if they only found the time to declutter. Hoarders lose the ability to distinguish between items of true value and junk.

To the hoarder everything has value and the hoarder is unable to throw anything away – in fact, they might even feel GUILTY when getting rid of things.

Hoarding is a psychological problem that may require professional treatment. Since I’m not a doctor (only a reformed cluttered mess), I can’t diagnose that.

5. What are the negative aspects of Clutter?

At times do you begin to feel claustrophobic, frustrated and have an overwhelming feeling that your life is starting to spin out of control?

If this is the case it is quite possible to trace those feeling back to clutter.

Clutter creates tension and tension leads to frustration and a loss of control. Clutter affects all aspects of your life; this includes your emotions, your professional life and your view of the future. Eliminating clutter helps to clear the negative forces out of your life that which, in turn, really helps to reduce your stress level and feelings of over-all happiness.

Decluttering 101 getting started

6. How to begin decluttering

Decluttering your home is such a rewarding and gratifying experience, BUT the hardest part is: Getting Started.

By the time one starts looking for help or Decluttering Ideas on Pinterest, they most likely feel SO overwhelmed by the not-so-simple question of “Where the heck do I START?

There really are only 5 steps to the actual decluttering process as we see here in this strategy guide image from BinThereDumpThatUSA

Declutter Your Home Action Plan

First, you’ll sort through all your stuff using the 4-box method.

Second, donate your totally usable, but unwanted/ not needed items.

Third – Have a Garage Sale to make money from your clutter.

Fourth, take your trash to a dump or compactor site (or get a company to do it for you).

Fifth – and MOST importantly, STOP BUYING MORE STUFF.

That’s the basic 5-step system to eliminate clutter in your home.

The hardest part?

Getting STARTED.

There are many ways to get started uncluttering your home – you just have to find a simple method that works for you long-term.

MANY of our readers here have a TON of success with these 2 ways to start decluttering:

✅   Box In Box Out Decluttering Strategy

✅   40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering Challenge

Once you get started decluttering your home it will fuel your momentum and motivate you to KEEP doing it – it feels GREAT to eliminate clutter!

The following are a few simple steps you can take to begin decluttering your home.

  • First and foremost you must want to declutter and bring order to your life. If you are not mentally ready to begin decluttering there is no reason to start the process. You MUST get motivated to declutter and organize first.
  • Second you must be emotionally ready to part with items that no longer have value for you. The decluttering process involves parting with items you no longer need or use. Be prepared to break the emotional ties you have with belonging you will be throwing out.
  • Third is to visualize what you want your uncluttered space to look like. Get a picture in your mind and work toward that goal. Keeping your mind focused on the outcome will bring it into your reality.

Now that you have yourself mentally prepared to declutter the easiest way to begin decluttering a room is to get three boxes.

  • Label Box #1 – Give-a-way / Donate
  • Label Box #2 – Throw-a-way (Line with garbage bag for an easier way to throw out your trash)
  • Label Box #3 – Put-a-way / Keep
  • Label Box #4 – Not Sure or Maybe

Pick the room that is YOUR best starting point to begin your cleaning.

My suggestion is to start at the entrance or doorway to that room. From your starting point begin to systematically work your way around the room in a clockwise direction. Do not skip any areas.

Every item within the room should be looked at. It may belong where it is, if so leave it. If not, place it in one of your four boxes. It won’t be long before your give-a-way box fills up and you will have to decide what to do with these items.

Remember, you can donate them, sell them online, have a yard sale… or just GIVE them away to those that need, and would APPRECIATE, having them.

As you go through this process you will begin to realize how many items are out of place.

Once Box #3 (put-a-way box) is full, stop decluttering and put those items where they belong. Continue this process until you have removed all the clutter within the room. You will find this a very easy and systematic way of removing clutter.

If this process leaves you feeling VERY overwhelmed, try my 3 secret tricks I use to make decluttering easier (and more fun!)

4 Box Declutter Your Home Challenge

7. Benefits of removing clutter from your life

There are MANY benefits that come from removing clutter from your life. The following are a few examples of how reducing clutter will improve your life.

• Improve efficiency and free up time

By living in a clutter free environment you will find you have more free time in your life. Knowing where items are located means you will not be spending hours trying to locate something you are looking for.

• Peace of mind and emotional calmness

Have you ever heard the saying “Clutter on the outside leads to Clutter on the inside“?

When you live surrounded by clutter, tension builds inside you. Clearing away the clutter around you, will relieve much of the stress and tension you are feeling within.

• Increase the space you live in

A decluttered space gives you a feeling of openness and freedom. Did you know that organized items take up much less space than disorganized items. By organizing and decluttering you will give yourself more space in which to live and work.

• Save money

The question you may be asking is how can decluttering save money? For many people, their items are so disorganized that when they need something they are unable to find it. Instead of spending hours looking for an item, it becomes more convenient to go out and buy a new one. Knowing what you have and where it is stored will save you money by not buying duplicate items.

• Locate items you forgot you had

As your decluttering process begins you will find items that you forgot you owned. Some of these items will be useful and you will want to incorporating them into your everyday life. Other items will have no value to you and it is time to throw them out or give them away. Getting rid of items you no longer need will free up valuable storage space.

• Feel better about your home and your life

Organizing and decluttering will give you renewed pride in your home and how you live your life. You will no longer be embarrassed or ashamed to invite guests over because your house is a cluttered mess. Not only can you take pride in your decluttering accomplishments, your spirit will be renewed and you will have gained a greater level of self esteem.

✅  Recommended:

declutter challenge binder printables

(image above links to a LOT of declutter challenge printables, cleaning schedules and MUCH more!)

My House Was a MESS!
And my anxiety was through the roof!

I needed a plan to get it together - it was all pushing me over the edge.

Thing is - we LIVE here... I never had the fantasy that my home would ever look "Pinterest perfect".

I simply wanted more control, less clutter and much less anxiety.

I finally found something that worked for ME.
  • My house is now easier to clean - I can now clean it in minutes, instead of hours.
  • I can now actually FIND the things I'm looking for.
  • I learned some simple decluttering systems that make me much more efficient every day - and I'm more relaxed and less overwhelmed all the time (finally)
  • My house now looks pretty darn good almost all the time.
  • Best of all - I no longer stress about guests unexpectedly showing up.
Turns out, it was so much easier to do than I ever expected.

This is how I did it.

understanding clutter plus declutter plan to get rid of it

House ALWAYS a MESS? How to control clutter & where to start uncluttering your home - Go from cluttered mess to organized success with my Decluttering Club Declutter Challenge tips & inspiration to UNclutter your home without feeling overwhelmed or making decluttering mistakes

Decluttering 101: Understanding Clutter - Ready to declutter your home but feeling overwhelmed?  Get useful decluttering ideas to declutter and organize your home from start to finish and make sure you're not making these decluttering mistakes.  Step 1 of our Decluttering club Declutter Challenge - Understanding Clutter

understanding clutter - decluttering 101 tips for beginners