Blog post: Decluttering for Beginners: 5 Rules to Encourage You to Let Go (Guest Post by Courtney Carver

Decluttering sounds easy enough. We know how to declutter although deciding where to start, what to do with the clutter, and thinking about how long it might take can slow us down. If we get too caught up in the logistics, our questions and concerns can quickly turn to procrastination.

Before we jump into the 3 rules that will encourage you to let go, remember that you can’t do decluttering wrong (click to tweet!). You can’t start in the wrong place. No one is grading your progress, and there isn’t one right way to let go. Figuring out the method that works best for you may take some curiosity and experimenting, but once you know … you know. If you want to experiment, try one of the following approaches:

Decluttering challenges and experiments:

  • Project 333. Move from closet chaos to peaceful mornings with this minimalist wardrobe challenge. Choose 33 items including clothes, accessories, jewelry and shoes (yes, shoes too). Hide everything else for 3 months. See the rules here.
  • Declutter 100. If you are in the long process of simplifying your life, try this decluttering burst. Set your timer for 60 minutes and get rid of 100 things. Grab a box for trash, and a box for donations. Go!
  • The Mins Game. According to the rules, here’s how the game works: Find a friend or family member: someone who’s willing to get rid of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go! Clothes, furniture, electronics, tools, decorations, etc. Donate, sell, or trash. Whatever you do, each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day.
  • Minimalist Scavenger Hunt. This is a reverse scavenger hunt. Instead of collecting items, make a list of items to find and discard. Play with your family, neighborhood or friends. Make age-appropriate lists for kids too.

Don’t be afraid to create your own challenges and experiments too. Have fun while letting go so decluttering is less of a chore and something you might actually look forward to doing. The best way to get the family excited to join in is to make it fun.

Decluttering for Beginners: 5 Rules to Encourage You to Let Go

1. Why is more important than how.
We all know how to declutter (and if you aren’t sure, here’s a list of articles to help), but knowing why will make it stick. Why do you want to live with less? Why are you making space — what are you making room for in your life?

2. Less is not nothing.
No one said you had to get rid of it all. You decide what you want in your life. Keep things that add value to your life and the stuff you enjoy. When it doesn’t add value anymore, or you stop enjoying it, let it go.

3. This is not a race.
Slow and steady change will be more sustainable than the fast and furious version you’ve attempted before. There’s no benefit in comparing either. Just because you read about someone who decluttered their life overnight doesn’t mean that pace is right for you. You have to consider your home, your family, and your heart. Drop the competing and comparing and make this an adventure, not a race. Curiosity and consistency will serve you better than stress and speed.

4. Small progress is still progress.
Celebrate the baby steps and the small wins instead of waiting until the end.

5. Holding on is harder than letting go.
Letting go may feel hard, but holding on is harder. You have to hold on every single day. You hold on by paying for items with your money, time, attention, and emotion. You only have to let go once.

If you are a beginner or decluttering pro, consider these rules before your next decluttering pass. They will bring more purpose, joy and intention to your actions which will lead to long-lasting change. If you still feel overwhelmed repeat this little mantra … “I will keep things simple.”

You’ve got this.

Discover more ways to mindfully declutter your home or office here! >>



Courtney Carver changed her life by simplifying it after a devastating diagnosis in 2006. She’s the founder of and minimalist fashion challenge Project 333. Her new book Soulful Simplicity is available for pre-order and will be published December 26th by Tarcher/Perigee, a division of Penguin Random House. Carver shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives.