5 Simple Decluttering Methods for When You Feel Stuck

Published by Deanna Yates on

5 Simple Decluttering Methods for When You Feel Stuck

You look around your home and it no longer feels like the relaxing retreat from the outside world you imagined it would be. Instead you see piles of laundry, toys strewn across the floor, half finished art projects, and a snack plate with a line of crumbs trailing from it. There’s clutter everywhere, and you wonder if there is a decluttering method that will help you cut through this mess quickly.

The good news is yes. There are a few simple decluttering methods that will help you and your family get moving when you feel stuck. The better news is that you can start right away. No need to buy fancy gadgets or read long books on the subject. In as little as 5 minutes you can start to see progress which will motivate you to keep going.

Simple Decluttering Methods to Get You Started

1. The 5-Box Method

I love this simple, yet powerful decluttering method. In fact, it us one of my favorite ways to quickly declutter an entire space. Using 5 boxes (or even just 5 separate piles) separate everything into Love, Maybe, Toss, Donate, or Sell.

The genius of this method is that you touch every item in a room and quickly make a decision on where it should go. The maybe box is for those items you are unsure about, but by having this box, you won’t get hung up on the idea of getting rid of something before you are emotionally ready too. It keeps you on task for the bigger picture and allows you to come back to a smaller box of items to figure out later.

I wrote more about the 5-Box Decluttering Method here and included some cute printable labels for you too. 

2. The 10-item Pickup Method

This decluttering method is a great way to turn decluttering into a game for the whole family. The idea is to take a box or laundry basket from room-to-room with you and make two trips around your home.

Starting in one room, find 10 things that do not belong there. Put them in the basket and go to the second room. Put away anything that belongs in the second room and pick up 10 more things before going to the third room. Continue going around your home until you have pickup 10 items from each room and put them away.

Next, follow the same path and go from room to room, except this time you will find 10 things to get rid of. These can be things to donate or throw away. The goal is to just get them out of your home. This second pass can go faster because you will not need to put anything away. Instead you will just fill your basket and then put everything in a bag to donate or toss.

3. Shopping Freeze

As hard as they can be, a shopping freeze for non-essential items can be very good for decluttering. As we are moving in about a month, our family has stopped buying almost everything aside from food and personal hygiene products. But, you don’t need to have the excuse of moving to implement a freeze on buying new things.

You can start a shopping freeze by having a no-purchase weekend. Instead of heading to Target or the mall, go through your closet and “shop” for a new outfit hiding in the back or at the bottom of a drawer. Experiment putting new outfits together and have a fashion show with your kids.

Go through your pantry and get creative with dinner. Use a website like SuperCook to see if you can make a meal from the ingredients you already have.

The point of a shopping freeze is to get creative and think of new ways to use the items you already have. Often, being able to purchase something keeps us in familiar and comfortable territory. A shopping freeze helps us get out of that comfort zone and try new things.

4. The 1-In-2-Out Method

This decluttering method helps you decrease your belongings slowly overtime. With the 1-in-2-out method, you remove 2 items you currently own for every new item you bring in. The idea is very simple and it works well in every area of your home.

You can decide how strict you want to be with this method. For instance, if you purchase a new coat you can decide if you need to send out 2 coats, 2 articles of clothing, or 2 other items around your home. I recommend staying as close as possible to the same types of items – coat for coat (or at least outerwear).

This will keep you more aware of the items you purchase when you are out shopping. You will automatically start thinking of how a new item can replace, and perform double duty of the items you currently own.

5. The “Jail Box” Method

What in the world is a “Jail Box”? This is “jail” for belongings that are out of place. It’s not a method you can implement right away if your home is always a mess, but once it is cleaned and your family knows where everything belongs, you can start using the “Jail Box”.

When you are straightening up at the end of the day, any items you find that are out of place can be put in jail. In order to get their belongings back, the owner of the item has to complete a cleaning or decluttering tasks. Keep the tasks age appropriate (like fluff the pillows for little kids and take out the garbage for older kids). I also recommend having tasks for the adults – yourself included – so you can model the behavior for your kids.

There you have it! 5 simple decluttering methods to help you get started when you feel stuck. Decluttering is not something that happens overnight, but it does not have to be overwhelming either. Start with one of these tasks and add in others as they feel right. I can’t wait to hear which method you like best. If you have another decluttering method you like, please let me know in the comments below. I love learning new tips and tricks to share with our community.


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Categories: Minimalism


Angela · May 29, 2019 at 1:25 pm

I think the jail box is brilliant. I’ve no longer got children at home, just my husband me but I think I’m going to just do it for myself. I will think twice before just putting something down ‘for a minute,’ which turns into days or weeks.

    Deanna Yates · June 4, 2019 at 4:33 am

    I love this, Angela! You are right. Why not do this for ourselves? Let me know how it goes.

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