I usually recommend a slow and steady approach to decluttering but sometimes you need to clear clutter quickly. When you are getting ready for a move or experience an unexpected life change, there might not be time to thoughtfully declutter. Another time to consider a faster pace when clearing clutter is if you’ve been agonizing over clutter decisions. What should I keep? Where should I donate my clutter? What if I let go but I need it someday? I might need that just in case. I’ve heard it all. Actually, I’ve thought it all.
My decluttering journey was a mix of slow and steady moments and let that sh*t go moments. I used decluttering challenges to keep things moving out the door and sometimes I just couldn’t give my stuff so much attention and simply had to release it. I had to change the way I thought about my stuff too. Instead of thinking, “Well it’s not hurting anything.” I had to wonder, “How is it helping?” That reframe helped me shift from storing and saving things to letting most things go so I could enjoy the space in my home and the things I decided to hold on to.
10 Tips To Help You Clear Clutter Quickly
I’m not saying you have to clear clutter quickly all the time but weave it into your current decluttering schedule and use these tips when you need to let go fast.
1. Donate clutter thoughtfully (most of the time).
It can be challenging to donate clutter when you consider the fact that most of the things you donate are going to end up in a landfill at some point. Even your best efforts don’t always end with a better result. The most powerful thing you can do to stop contributing to landfills is to stop the cycle of buying and donating. Bring less in so that less has to go out.
Donate clutter thoughtfully when you have the time and energy. You can donate your books here and here are a few more places your clutter may do some good. If you are in a hurry or frozen with analysis paralysis, box it all up and bring your clutter to a local donation center (or see if they have a pick up service) and move on. Freeing yourself of clutter will allow you to do more good in the world.
2. Try a decluttering challenge for more progress.
Decluttering challenges give you motivation to clear clutter quickly. Try this decluttering burst. or the Anti-Procrastination Decluttering Challenge. Even when you aren’t in a hurry, a decluttering challenge can be a fun way to maintain momentum and help you experience the benefits of a clutter free space. These challenges should be fun and not stressful. If they are causing you more stress, check in. Is there another way that might work better for you?
3. Invite friends over to take your stuff.
This tip to clear clutter quickly may be a little unconventional but if you worry about your stuff going to a good place, ask good people to take it. Put the stuff you want to let go of in one area of your home, invite your friends over for a “Take my stuff” party and see what happens. You might like to know that a friend who needed a blender got yours or that your book collection went to a fellow book lover. Pro-tip: When one of your friends loves this idea and invites you to their “Take my stuff” party, kindly decline.
4. Hide your clutter.
One thing that gets in the way of clearing clutter quickly is decision making. At some point, you don’t want to make more decisions and you stall. Instead, only make one decision to hide everything for a week to a month depending on how much time you have. By hiding all of your clutter, you can experience a clutter-free space and break the emotional ties you have with stuff you may not really care about. When you see it every day, your brain says, “Hey, we should care about that because we’ve had it a long time or because we spent a lot of money on that thing.” When your clutter is hiding in an unmarked box, your brain says, “Ahhhh, look at all this space.”
5. Use the 20/20 rule to let go of clutter quickly.
The 20/20 rule for decluttering (created by The Minimalists) says you should let go of an item if you can replace it for less than $20 and in less than 20 minutes. To be clear, it doesn’t mean you should replace it just because you can but for the smaller items that you think you probably don’t need but can’t let go of the “just in case” argument, use the 20/20 rule. The reality is that you will never need to replace most of these things but knowing that you can for less than $20 in under 20 minutes makes it easier to let go without a lot of heartache.
6. Reframe your thoughts about stuff.
Earlier I mentioned that I had to reframe my thoughts about stuff. It helped me realize how meaningless most of it is. Most of my life, I thought my stuff was so important and meaningful that I paid to move it several times. When we did our big declutter, I realized I had boxes of stuff I never opened the last time I moved. It couldn’t have been that important! When we downsized, I had another aha moment. I had a couple of boxes of hidden stuff that I decided to keep and put into storage but the apartment we were moving to didn’t have storage so I let it all go. I couldn’t tell you what was in those very important boxes. I don’t miss the stuff or even remember what it was. When everything matters, nothing does.
7. Use a timer to clear clutter quickly.
This one might sound obvious, but it only works if you do it. Set a timer for 10 minutes, 20 minutes or 30 minutes and fill as many bags or boxes as possible with clutter. Choose a time that works well for your schedule and your energy level. When the timer goes off, if you have the time and energy for another round, have a glass of water and start again. You’ll be surprised at how effective this simple method is.
8. Get help to clear clutter quickly.
Ask for help from friends and family or if you can hire someone, consider working with someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t care about your stuff at all. Sometimes when you see your stuff through someone else’s eyes, it makes it easier to let go. Be clear about your goals when you work with someone, even friends and family. Let them know how they can be most supportive. If you have a friend or family member in a similar situation, you could trade services and help each other.
9. Remind yourself that you have paid enough.
Sometimes our decluttering efforts get held up because we feel bad and guilty for collecting so much stuff, spending so much money and for letting it go after investing so much money, time and energy in said stuff. This is the time to remind yourself that you have already paid enough. You bought it, took care of it, may have insured it and even paid interest on it. You may have stressed over it in other ways too. Now you are paying for it with your mental health, your emotions and maybe still with money. In any case, you have already paid enough. Stop paying. Let go.
10. Make a list of what really matters to you.
Keep a list of what really matters to you in life. Write down how you want to spend your time, how you want to feel in your living space and in the world. Write about new things you’d like to try, people you want to spend time with, places you’d like to visit and explore. What do you want to create? What kind of space and time do you want to devote to rest and self-care? When you match your list up with the coffee cup you aren’t sure about keeping or donating, you can ask, “Does this cup align with or support what matters most to me. Does your stuff support you or weigh you down? Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you?
Whether you clear clutter quickly or slowly, don’t create space for more stuff, create space for more life. If you want to live with less stress and more peace and ease, it’s time to embrace the idea of letting go, slowing down and living with less.