Checklist for Decluttering: Our Declutter Story

In this post: we’ll be sharing our journey of decluttering and the most effective checklist for decluttering to help you embark on your own tidying up adventure.

There’s nothing quite like the adventure my husband, Cully, and I embarked on when we decided to trade in our nearly 2,000 square foot house, complete with an additional 1,200 square foot of garage and storage space, for a cozy (less than) 450 square foot tiny home nestled on 10 beautiful acres of land.

The transition was an exercise in decluttering that tested us in ways we hadn’t anticipated. The process was challenging and, truth be told, isn’t even quite finished yet.

We’re still storing some items as we continue to sift through what we genuinely need and what we can let go.

We’ve learned so much through this journey. And it’s these insights and experiences that I want to share with you today in this post, along with a handy checklist for decluttering.

Let’s dive into the art of letting go and simplifying our lives…

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase using one of these links.  However, I only recommend items I personally love. Thank you for your support of my creative business!**

Understanding the Psychology of Clutter

Clutter isn’t merely an accumulation of physical items; it’s a manifestation of our emotional state and thought processes. The items we surround ourselves with often reflect our identities, interests, experiences, and aspirations.

Emotional attachment to possessions

We all form emotional bonds with our belongings. That old sweater from your first date or those college books may hold sentimental value. But when they start to overrun our spaces, it’s time to pull out our checklist for decluttering.

Fear of scarcity and waste

Sometimes, we keep things “just in case.” This fear of scarcity can lead to unnecessary clutter. With a checklist for decluttering, we can conquer this fear and create a more streamlined space.

The role of memories and sentimentality

Our possessions can serve as tangible reminders of our past. Preserving memories is beautiful, but holding onto every material reminder can prevent us from living fully in the present.

Why It’s Difficult to Let Go of Things

The act of letting go can be a challenging one. This difficulty often stems from the emotional attachments we form with our possessions, making each item not just a physical entity, but a repository of memories and sentiments.

Understanding this emotional connection can provide us with the insight needed to navigate through the decluttering process more smoothly. It’s like shining a torch on the shadows of our hesitation and fears.

Meanwhile, having a checklist for decluttering serves as a practical tool. It’s a roadmap that guides us step-by-step through this journey. It helps structure the process, making it less overwhelming and providing a sense of progress and achievement with each ticked box.

The endowment effect and loss aversion

We tend to value things more once we own them. Recognizing this bias can help us make rational decisions about what to keep and what to part with.

The complexity of emotional clutter

Emotional clutter refers to items that stir up strong feelings. With a checklist for decluttering, we can systematically address these items, making the process less overwhelming.

Cognitive biases contributing to clutter

Our brains are wired with certain tendencies that can contribute to clutter. By becoming aware of these biases, we can counteract them and make our checklist for decluttering even more effective.

The Benefits of Decluttering: Why a Checklist for Decluttering Can Change Your Life

Decluttering goes beyond the act of simply cleaning or organizing—it’s a transformative process aimed at cultivating a space that is both peaceful and invigorating. It’s about curating an environment that not only looks good but also feels good. One that inspires creativity, productivity, and tranquility.

A checklist for decluttering acts as our blueprint in this endeavor, guiding us in creating a space that mirrors our ideal living or working conditions.

As we progress through this checklist, we don’t just get rid of unnecessary items; we also pave the way to enjoy several benefits such as increased focus, reduced stress, and a more harmonious living or working space.

Mental clarity and reduced stress

A clean, organized space can help reduce anxiety and stress, promoting mental clarity and peace. This is one of the many reasons why having a checklist for decluttering can be so beneficial.

Increased productivity and creativity

When you’re not distracted by a mess, you can focus better and think more creatively. An uncluttered space fosters productivity and innovation.

Enhanced control over your environment

Decluttering gives you the power to shape your surroundings according to your needs and preferences, making your home a true sanctuary.

Tips for Letting Go and Decluttering: How to Use Your Checklist for Decluttering

Ready to start decluttering? Here are some tips on how to use your checklist for decluttering:

  • Evaluate each item carefully. Does it serve a purpose? Does it bring you joy?
  • Thank each item for its service before letting it go. This practice, inspired by Marie Kondo, can make parting easier.
  • Define clear rules for what you keep and discard.

I absolutely LOVE decorating with thrift store items – which can lead to collecting a large amount of “things”.  One of the best tips I use is for every new piece I bring in, I need to let go of something existing.  

The Secret to Having a Clean Home: A Checklist for Decluttering

A clean home is more than just an organized space. It’s about creating an environment that feels good to you, that resonates with your personal style and enhances your well-being.

When your home is tidy and organized, it can significantly reduce stress levels, increase productivity, and even improve your mood.

Developing a Cleaning Routine:

Every person operates differently, so it’s crucial to develop a cleaning routine that suits both your schedule and energy levels. You might prefer tackling one big clean a week or doing smaller tasks daily. 

The goal isn’t perfection, but progress. A consistent cleaning routine will help maintain your space in a way that feels manageable and not overwhelming.

If possible, avoid dark floors as they tend to show more dust.  We found the perfect flooring (even when we had 4 dogs!) in color and quality here

Assigning Specific Homes for Each Item:

Assigning a specific home for each item in your space is a game-changer. Not only does this strategy make cleaning up quicker and easier, but it also helps prevent clutter from accumulating in the first place. 

When every item has a designated place, you’ll spend less time searching for things and more time enjoying your tidy home.

Surrounding Yourself with Items That Spark Joy:

Fill your space with items that spark joy and inspire you. Be intentional about what you keep in your home. If an item doesn’t serve a purpose or bring you happiness, consider letting it go. This approach reduces clutter and ensures that your environment is filled with things that reflect your personality and values.

Additional Tips to Keeping Up a Clean Home:

  • Adopt the ‘One Minute Rule’: If a task takes one minute or less to complete, do it immediately. This could be hanging up a coat, putting a dish in the dishwasher, or throwing away junk mail. These small actions can make a significant difference in maintaining a tidy space.
  • Use Vertical Spaces: Utilize wall shelves, hanging organizers, or over-the-door hooks to make the most of your vertical space. This can help keep your surfaces clutter-free.
  • Practice Gratitude for Your Home: Take a moment each day to appreciate your home and the shelter it provides. This practice can encourage you to keep it tidy and welcoming.
  • Get Cleaning Tools that Mesh with your Lifestyle: for example, this vacuum is a must have for quick clean ups.
  • Don’t have pets or kids: ok, ok this one is a JOKE! 

Decluttering by Strategy: Time Method vs Zone Decluttering

Decluttering is not a one-size-fits-all process. It’s highly personal, with different strategies working better for different people depending on their lifestyle, tendencies, and needs. 

Therefore, it’s good to understand the various decluttering methods available and select the one that aligns best with your personal style and requirements.

Time Method

The time method involves dedicating a specific amount of time each day to decluttering, whether it’s five minutes or an hour. The benefit of this method lies in its flexibility and adaptability. It allows you to make progress without feeling overwhelmed, chipping away at the clutter bit by bit. It’s particularly suitable for those with busy schedules or those who prefer gradual change over drastic transformations.

Zone Method

On the other hand, the Zone Method focuses on decluttering one specific area at a time. This could mean tackling one room, one drawer, or even one shelf at a time until it’s completely clutter-free before moving onto the next zone. This method provides a sense of accomplishment with each completed zone and works well for those who prefer seeing immediate results in a particular area.

Choosing Your Declutter Strategy

When choosing a decluttering method, it’s important to take into account your daily routine, energy levels, and personal preferences. If you’re someone who gets easily overwhelmed, the Time Method might work best for you.

If you enjoy seeing immediate changes and have the energy for more intensive sessions, the Zone Method could be a better fit.

Room-by-Room Decluttering Tips: Using Your Checklist for Decluttering in Each Space

Approaching decluttering on a room-by-room basis allows you to concentrate your efforts and make noticeable progress in smaller, manageable areas. This method not only makes the task seem less intimidating but also provides a sense of accomplishment with each completed room.

To streamline this process and ensure no area gets overlooked, below is a tailored checklist that provides specific strategies for each key area of your home:


  1. Identify and remove items that do not contribute to a restful atmosphere.
  2. Retain only those items that spark joy or have a specific purpose in the space.
  3. Consider investing in under-bed storage for seasonal items like heavy blankets or winter clothing.


  1. Prioritize keeping frequently used items within arm’s reach for convenience.
  2. Utilize drawer organizers to categorize and store utensils neatly.
  3. Opt for stackable containers to maximize pantry space and keep food items organized.

Living Room:

  1. Limit the number of decorative items to a select few that you truly love.
  2. Use multipurpose storage furniture, like ottomans with storage capabilities or bookshelves, to organize and store items.
  3. Regularly reassess the room to ensure it remains a comfortable and functional space.


  1. Implement drawer dividers for easier access and visibility of makeup and toiletries.
  2. Regularly review your products and promptly discard any that are expired or no longer in use.
  3. Consider using wall-mounted storage or over-the-door hangers to take advantage of vertical space.

Overcoming Common Decluttering Challenges: Using Your Checklist for Decluttering

One of the most common obstacles people face when decluttering is dealing with sentimental items. These are objects that hold significant emotional value but may not serve a functional purpose in your home.

Instead of letting these items take up precious space, consider capturing their essence through photographs. This way, you preserve the memory associated with the item without the physical clutter.

Alternatively, you could repurpose these items into something practical. For instance, old concert t-shirts could be turned into a quilt, or a beloved piece of broken furniture could be upcycled into shelving.

Dealing with Sentimental Items:

  • Consider taking photographs of sentimental items as keepsakes, preserving memories without physical clutter.
  • Alternatively, repurpose these items into something practical, like turning old concert t-shirts into a quilt or upcycling a piece of broken furniture into shelves.

Managing Paper Clutter:

  • Digitize important documents to reduce physical clutter and improve accessibility.
  • Dispose of unnecessary papers promptly through recycling or shredding for sensitive documents.

Addressing Digital Clutter:

  • Regularly clean up your email inbox: unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters, delete old emails, and organize the rest into folders.
  • Manage your computer: delete unused apps, organize files into folders, and regularly clear out your download folder.

General Tips:

  • Decluttering is a process, not an event. It doesn’t have to happen all at once, and it’s perfectly fine to take it one step at a time.
  • With patience, persistence, and the right strategies, you’ll soon enjoy a more organized, clutter-free space.

Maintaining a Decluttered Space: Keeping Up With Your Checklist for Decluttering

Here are some tips for maintaining a declutter space:

  • Make decluttering a regular habit: Schedule regular intervals to declutter, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or seasonally. This will prevent clutter from piling up and becoming overwhelming again.
  • Practice mindful consumption and acquisition: Before purchasing or acquiring new items, ask yourself if you truly need them. This will help reduce the influx of unnecessary items into your space.
  • Celebrate your progress, no matter how small: Every step towards a clutter-free environment is an achievement. Acknowledge your efforts and celebrate your progress.
  • Reward yourself with experiences rather than things: To avoid adding more clutter, opt for experiences as rewards. This could be a relaxing day at a spa, a hike in nature, or trying out a new restaurant.
  • Create designated spaces: Assign a specific place for every item in your home. This makes it easier to keep things tidy and helps you quickly find what you need.
  • Adopt the “One In, One Out” rule: For every new item you bring into your space, remove an old one. This helps maintain balance and prevents accumulation of unnecessary items.
  • Use storage solutions wisely: Utilize boxes, bins, and shelves to neatly store items. However, beware of using storage solutions as a way to hide clutter. They should aid organization, not enable hoarding.
  • Involve other members of your household: Encourage family members or roommates to participate in maintaining the tidiness. Shared responsibility can make the task less daunting and more successful.

Click here to shop organization & storage products on Amazon

Maintaining a clutter-free environment is a continuous process but with these strategies, it can certainly become a manageable and even enjoyable part of your lifestyle.

120 Items You Could Consider Getting Rid Of Right Now

To make the decluttering process easier, below is a  comprehensive checklist of items you might consider removing from your space. This list spans various categories from clothing and electronics to kitchenware and gardening tools. 

The aim is not to discard everything on the list but to use it as a guide to help identify potential clutter in your home. So, let’s dive in and start reclaiming your space!

  1. Magazines collecting dust
  2. Coupons that are no longer valid
  3. Cookbooks sitting unused
  4. Outmoded electronics
  5. Kitchen utensils that have seen better days
  6. Makeup products untouched
  7. Nail polish that has dried up
  8. Medications past their prime
  9. Receipts from yesteryears
  10. Textbooks from school days
  11. Clothes that have become snug or loose
  12. Shoes showing signs of wear and tear
  13. Phone cases from previous models
  14. Socks missing their pairs
  15. Hair accessories forgotten in drawers
  16. DVDs gathering dust on shelves
  17. Books you’ve lost interest in
  18. Gifts that didn’t appeal to you
  19. Calendars from previous years
  20. Jewelry pieces damaged beyond repair
  21. Perfume bottles now empty
  22. Exercise equipment lying idle
  23. Toys your children have outgrown
  24. Children’s clothing that’s too small
  25. Craft supplies from abandoned hobbies
  26. Spare buttons with no matching clothes
  27. Greeting cards from past occasions
  28. Batteries that have run out of juice
  29. Bed linens that are worn thin
  30. Furniture past its glory days
  31. Vases without flowers
  32. Pots and pans neglected in cupboards
  33. Software that’s no longer compatible
  34. Duplicate kitchen tools
  35. Cell phones replaced by newer models
  36. Paint cans from old projects
  37. Christmas decorations broken over time
  38. Planners from past years
  39. Manuals for appliances you no longer own
  40. Warranties that have expired
  41. Invoices from completed transactions
  42. Business cards from old contacts
  43. Travel brochures from trips long past
  44. Concert tickets from past events
  45. Shopping bags piling up
  46. Picture frames without photos
  47. Chargers and cords for devices you no longer use
  48. Clocks that have stopped ticking
  49. Watches that are broken
  50. Eyeglasses with outdated prescriptions
  51. Wallets left unused
  52. Belts forgotten in the wardrobe
  53. Hats collecting dust
  54. Gloves from past winters
  55. Scarves left untouched
  56. Swimsuits not used in recent seasons
  57. Pet toys ignored by your pets
  58. Tools that are damaged
  59. Notebooks left blank
  60. Pens and markers that have dried up
  61. Hangers that are broken
  62. Pillows that have lost their fluffiness
  63. Pantry items past their expiration date
  64. Spices that have lost their flavor
  65. Dish rags that have worn thin
  66. Earbuds that no longer work
  67. Computer monitors from old systems
  68. Keyboards unused or broken
  69. Mouse pads left neglected
  70. Computer mice replaced by newer ones
  71. USB drives no longer needed
  72. Extension cords left coiled up
  73. Lamps that no longer light up
  74. Nail polish remover that’s evaporated
  75. Loofahs that have seen better days
  76. Toothbrushes ready for replacement
  77. Soap bars left unused
  78. Razors past their best
  79. Shaving cream cans gathering dust
  80. Sunscreen that’s expired
  81. Towels that have lost their softness
  82. Bath mats needing replacement
  83. Bathroom decor that’s out of style
  84. Shower curtains showing signs of wear
  85. Toothpaste tubes squeezed dry
  86. Air fresheners that have run out
  87. Laundry baskets sitting empty
  88. Cleaning supplies unused
  89. Brooms with worn bristles
  90. Vacuum cleaners that no longer suck
  91. Mops left unused
  92. Suitcases from past travels
  93. Backpacks left in storage
  94. School supplies from previous semesters
  95. Candles that have never been lit
  96. Light bulbs that don’t fit any fixtures
  97. Shoe boxes without matching shoes
  98. Umbrellas broken by past storms
  99. Fans that no longer spin
  100. Calendars from years past
  101. Newspapers yellowing with age
  102. Wrapping paper leftovers
  103. Party decorations from celebrations past
  104. Bicycles gathering rust
  105. Gardening tools left rusty
  106. Flower pots without plants
  107. Hoses sprung a leak
  108. Lawn furniture weather-beaten
  109. Grills no longer in use
  110. Fire pits left cold
  111. Coolers not used in recent outings
  112. Pool toys deflated or broken
  113. Car accessories for models you no longer own
  114. Paint brushes stiff with old paint
  115. Paint cans dried up or color outdated
  116. Power tools that no longer power up
  117. Screws and nails without a purpose
  118. Ladders unsafe or unused
  119. Wheelbarrows broken or rusty
  120. Garden hoses with cracks or leaks.

Related reading: Dollar Tree Organization for Your Closet 


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