Why Declutter?

June 17, 2021

Hello, I'm Rachel
I’m a busy mom, entrepreneur, and an expert in organizing your home, office, and life. I believe in the profound impact of organizing on every aspect of life. 
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Decluttering is such an important part of organizing. If you have been following along for any length of time on the blog or Instagram you know that every single organization project or how to includes a step for decluttering. But what is decluttering? The official dictionary definition of declutter is to remove unnecessary items from an untidy or overcrowded place. In the world of organizing, we use the term decluttering as the process of reviewing and removing possessions. This can mean everything from going through your closet to remove clothing you no longer need to sorting through your kids stuffed animals to clearing out a file cabinet of outdated papers to reviewing your spices to look for expired ones. Decluttering can be necessary even if a space isn’t untidy or overcrowded as clutter comes in many forms, not just mess.


So why, as a professional organizer, do I believe that decluttering is so important? First, there is a true cost to holding on to things you no longer use, love or fit your lifestyle. This cost might be a physical cost like an actual expense to store something, it might be a visual cost of creating visual clutter in your home, it might be an opportunity cost of what you could have in that space in your life without the item or it might event be an emotional cost of holding on to something from your past. As I mentioned, clutter comes in many forms and physical clutter often leads to mental clutter which can impact our daily lives and overall happiness. It might seem dramatic but just think how happy and free you feel walking into a clean space vs. a messy and cluttered home.

Secondly, holding on to clutter is time consuming. Owning pieces that you are not using means you touch them over and over again throughout the years as you reorganize spaces in your life but you don’t actually put the item into use. For example, if you are holding onto clothing that no longer fits, every time you organize your closet you are simply moving those pieces around creating physical clutter but also the mental clutter/cost of having to think about the pieces no longer fitting. If you let go of those items not only would you have that space in your closet but you would free up that guilt or shame in your mind about the size of the clothes.

Finally, there are often phases of life when decluttering makes a lot of sense. One of the biggest decluttering phases of life is moving to a new home. Decluttering makes SO much sense when you are moving and it is important to do it before you pack up for the new house. If you don’t declutter before you move, you are going to be paying movers to move things you don’t need, want or love and simply unnecessarily taking up space on the moving truck and in the new home. Other phases of life where big decluttering makes a lot of sense are before renovations or maybe before a new baby joins the family. We are helping several clients this summer declutter before items go into storage for a renovation so they are not paying to store items they don’t need. That said, decluttering doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) reserved for life changing events but can be just as beneficial in small bites – think about decluttering one drawer on a Friday night.

So that now that we have discussed the why declutter, I am sure you are thinking about the how. When you decide to sit down to declutter there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to decide if you should be keeping an item:

  • Have I used this item in the last year?

    • I like to use year as a guide vs. 6 months, as that way you can ensure you will have gone through all seasons. Of course, this past year was different so you may need to give yourself a little slack there but in general this question is a great way to gauge if you really put an item into use.

  • Do I love this item and/or do I use it often?

    • You don’t necessarily need to answer yes to both of these questions but as long as you have one you will likely want to hold onto the piece. You may not use a tea set from your grandmother but you love it and you may not love your measuring spoons but you use them.

  • What is the cost of storing this item?

    • As I mentioned above there are many types of costs to keeping an item so you need to ask yourself if there is a cost to keeping something. Is there a cost for the space or am I actually spending money to keep something? Is this piece creating vIsual clutter? What can’t I store or get because I am keeping this piece?

That’s it! Decluttering can be super simple if you ask yourself those three questions for each piece you touch and decide if you are going to keep that item. I strongly suggest donating anything that is still in good shape during the decluttering process so those items are not simply ending up in the trash.

The decluttering process is so freeing and almost addicting once you get started. TELL ME: what space in your home needs to be decluttered or what space have you decluttered that brought you happiness?




add a comment

  1. Roy A Ackerman, PhD, EA says:

    Ah, decluttering…
    One of the best things I did was to effect a policy to scan in every piece of paper that comes in- and then discard the original. (Given that we get between 200 and 2000 documents a week, this is a major decision.)

    That doesn’t mean I don’t have lots of objects that need discarding. My job over the next 30 days (now that I can stand up) is to clean up the storage area. Most of the objects there have not been touched in 2 years- so they will be easy discards.

  2. Amrita says:

    It’s important to decanter before even buying anything !That’s the stage I am in now.Great post

  3. Amrita says:

    It’s important to declutter before even buying anything !That’s the stage I am in now.Great post

  4. Martha DeMeo says:

    I started my decluttering challenge in January and started in the upstairs playroom and worked my way downstairs to every room. I’ve always been one to save things thinking "someday" I will use this. but I changed my thinking and started toss and donating things that I hadn’t used in years. My biggest and most fun decluttering project was when I converted my computer room into Lia’s Princess playroom. I had 2 extra desks that weren’t being used for anything but storage and once I got rid of them, the Princess room came alive. Lia loves it so much and now everything has a place!

  5. Tinkerbell says:

    great tips! decluttering is always a good idea, the last one i did was when we moved in here 2 years ago, then i did a small purge last winter. my fear is that i am going to inadvertently get rid of something i need and not realize it.

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I'm Rachel, founder of Rachel & Company

I’m dedicated to helping you create a lifestyle that is more organized, sustainable, and joyously livable.

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