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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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« 9 Clutter Management Tips | Ask the Expert: Sheila Delson »

5 Quick Decluttering Tips

5 Decluttering Tips

Are you feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by mounting clutter and are not sure where to start? Would you like to activate your decluttering rhythm? If so, think mini projects. Each tiny step you take will help you feel lighter, less stressed, and happier. Using short, quick energy bursts, focused on easy projects, will result in the “voilà” factor.

Are you curious about the “voilà” factor? It’s that sense of satisfaction and positive energy surge we experience when a task is completed and we stop to appreciate the results.

I’ve identified five mini projects for areas that clutter collects. Try one and let me know what happens.


5 Quick Decluttering Tips

1. Pencil Cup – Is your pencil cup overflowing with writing utensils that don’t work or you don’t like? Time to declutter.

  • Grab a piece of scrap paper.
  • Empty the cup of pens and pencils. Test them.
  • Let go of the ones that don’t work. Sharpen the pencils you like.
  • Refill the cup with only your favorite and working pens and pencils
  • Voilà! You’re pencil cup is functional and clutter free.


2. Magazine Bin – Do your magazines enter your home and rarely leave? Time to declutter.

  • Set a date parameter for how many back months of magazines you will keep. For example, “I will only keep the last 3 months of magazines.”
  • Empty the magazine bin.
  • Separate the last 3 months of magazines into one pile.
  • Recycle all the rest. Refill the magazine bin.
  • Voilà! Your reading time will be more focused and your bin is now clutter free.


3. Handbag – Is your handbag so full that you can’t find what you need? Time to declutter. Empty the entire contents. 

  • Gather the obvious tossables first, like used tissues and food wrappers. Release them. Set aside any items that you want to keep, but don’t belong in your bag. Route them elsewhere.
  • Of the remaining items, group like things together (cosmetics with cosmetics, snacks with snacks) into pouches or an organizer such as the Purse Perfector.
  • Arrange the keepers back into your bag.
  • Voilà! Your bag is organized and clutter free.


4. Clothing Closet – Is your closet so full that it’s difficult to get dressed? Time to declutter. This might seem like a huge project to tackle. For now, just focus with the basics. At another time, continue to the next phase. 

  • Remove all extra hangers. Recycle, giveaway, or reroute hangers that don’t belong. Pickup your clothes from the closet floor. Hang them up or reroute to laundry, dry cleaners, or giveaway.
  • Set the timer for 10 minutes and quickly remove clothes that you absolutely no longer want. Reroute them to giveaway.
  • Voilà! This is a great beginning. Your closet feels more spacious and on its way to being clutter free.


5. Email Inbox – Are you inundated by incoming email? Time to declutter.

  • Focus only on the “junk” email.
  • Unsubscribe to as many as possible.
  • After unsubscribing, delete them.
  • Voilà! You are on your way to a clutter free inbox.

Come join the conversation. I’d love to hear about your “Voilà!” moment. What quick decluttering tips work for you?


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Reader Comments (17)

Love these jump starts in ways that can easily make a difference! Thanks for sharing these quick and EASY ways to declutter.

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Love how easy these are. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part and these are perfect "get your toes wet" exercises!

May 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie Josel

Hey Wonderful Women! Great to "hear" your voices.

@Ellen- Jump starting the process gets us in the groove for moving forward. Focusing on the easy projects first is a great way to do this.

@Leslie- Yes! Dipping toes in the water to get things going...a very effective way to go.

Sometimes we make things so complicated. And of course, sometimes things ARE complicated. But if we can start to break things down into small, manageable sections, it's much easier to experience the wins.

May 1, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great blog, Linda. It's so motivating to accomplish mini projects.
The difficulty is often taking those crucial first steps.
Just thinking about opening the bag, closet or inbox, or looking at the magazine rack or pencil holder can seem overwhelming. Your advice on how to take first steps is really helpful.

May 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjuliet landau-pope

Juliet- So wonderful that you joined the conversation! I'm happy to know that you found these "first step" ideas useful. We can get stuck to the point of inaction when we start thinking too big. Reframing our perspective to include mini projects can motivate us to move forward.

May 2, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Love these simple, practical, and Oh, So effective: tips-) Something as simple as cleaning the pen holder and recycling the magazines can feel liberating.

As for the handbag . . . I like big bags and dislike diving into them and fishing for my keys or lipstick. I love the idea of grouping things.
Thank you Linda!

May 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYota

Happy to see you here, Yota! Isn't it amazing how doing small things can bring about such wonderful, "liberating" feelings?

Like you, I carry a larger bag. Grouping the items into pouches or purse organizers really helps to keep order in the spaces. I love Purse Perfector, Muji, and The Container Store for great handbag organizing products.

May 5, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

One of the best thing about these DE-cluttering tips is that they are things which are small but the most important cause of clutter. These are the good ways to manage these things.

June 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEva Lennon

Eva- Sometimes by starting small, we develop the confidence and enthusiasm to move on to bigger things. Taking tiny steps makes decluttering doable and manageable. So great that you stopped by to share with us. Are there any decluttering tips that work well for you?

June 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I do all of these tasks on a fairly regular basis, and enjoy both the task and the end result.

My cupboards are well-organized in that all similar items are on the same shelf, but the shelves themselves get disorganized from time to time. It only takes a few minutes to go through the contents of just one shelf - getting rid of outdated or unneeded items, grouping similar ones together, and generally reminding myself what is in there - and I always feel fantastic afterwards, as if I'd achieved some amazing feat! And of course, that usually motivates me to do one more shelf...

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Janet- You've described so beautifully the joy and energy that you feel after accomplishing organizing maintenance. It doesn't take much, but the rewards are wonderful. And one of those rewards is that motivation effect that encourages us to do "just a little more." Thanks for sharing your pantry organizing technique. I'm sure others will be inspired to try it too.

June 6, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Be realistic with your sorting. If it's something you haven't used in the past year or more, it's probably something you don't need to be holding onto anymore. Remember your goal is to get rid of stuff.Thanks for sharing quick tips. Great help to get organized!!

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicole Stanley

Hi Nicole- Great to have you join the conversation. Being "realistic" is key. That's challenging at times for some. There are many indicators that can be used to help us set letting go parameters. As you've mentioned, that one year plus mark can be a useful one. If the goal is to let things go, then setting up some letting go rules absolutely helps that process.

July 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love to declutter my home as it gives a new and fresh look. I found your tips very useful. But I think making a proper storage plan is also essential like if all the things are place at their proper storage space then when you want to find then it becomes easy to find them and also it will not create clutter.

July 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Addis

Hi Lauren- Great to have you join us! Decluttering, as you expressed, can sure be fun and satisfying. Love your reminder about making a "storage plan." Deciding where and how you want things to go absolutely helps to keep clutter under contrrol. The decluttering part becomes the maintenance piece.

July 20, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

It's the decisions......will I need it later on, will I regret getting rid of it,
Should I put it in the drop off pile, or can a friend use it.......and on and on and on.....and this the best use if my time? Calls to make, work to do.....

October 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenters

S- You've identified the part which is challenging for many: decision-making. You ask very good questions. And sometimes it's finding answers to those questions that prevents us from moving forward. Only you can decide what makes sense. It's your stuff, your time. Sometimes enlisting the support from a non-judgmental buddy (family, friend, or professional) can be a tremendous boost to moving past indecision. Having a person with you to listen to the questions, discuss the possibilities, and stay focused on your goal works really well for some.

October 2, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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