Finding It Difficult to De-clutter? Try This Simple 3-Step System

Try This 3 Step Decluttering System

Do you like the idea of de-cluttering but when it comes to it have items you just don’t want to throw away?

I’ve got a system just for you.

You know I like systems 🙂

1. Get Rid Of The Junk But Try This First…

You shouldn’t have any qualms getting rid of junk, dirty and broken beyond repair items, surely they hold no value to you as they are.

BUT before you do though… a few things to try for free:

  1. The Repair Cafe: They’re a latest trend and have been spreading like wild fire. If you’re lucky to have one near you, give it a go. They will repair your item for free if they can (you’ll even get a cup of tea while you wait). You can then decide if you want to give it a second life in your own home or still get rid of it by selling it or donating it.
  2. Your local Metal Yard: If the item is metalic and heavy, it can make you some money. In the UK, you’ll need to register by showing your passport and proof of address before you can give your items.
  3. Nearby artists: we’re lucky to have an artist nearby who work with junk (she loves broken computer parts and all sorts of colourful bits and bobs).
  4. Rags for school: if your local school has a collection program, consider giving them your rags. They’ll get paid for every kilo they collect.

2. Consider Keeping The Nostalgic And/Or Expensive Items Only If…

This is where you’re going to find it most difficult: all items that hold sentimental and nostalgic value and items which were expensive to buy.

Whether you keep them or get rid of them comes down to a simple equation of value:

VALUE the item still holds for you
VALUE of RECLAIMED SPACE + MONEY you could get should you sell it OR the PLEASURE you would get out of DONATING it to someone who could give it a second life

Consider this too: if the items are tucked away in the attic, do you really derive any value out of them where they are? If you’ve paid a lot of money for them originally, so what, you’ve used them and gotten your value out of them haven’t you?

Make up your mind and keep what you must, for the rest, go to step 3.

3. De-Clutter The Rest

The rest should be all items that you do not need and are still in good enough condition to be donated or sold.

In case for any reason you’re still wobbling, to be sure and give yourself permission to get rid of them, you could always try Courtney’s suggestion to hide your stuff for a while to see if you miss it.

Now we’re going to have another 3 steps. A 3 step system within our 3-step system if you like (I’m allowed to do that because this is the de-cluttering bit). What we’re going to do is the following

  • Tell you what you can get for your stuff
  • Make it easier to get rid of your stuff if what you can get for it turns out to be nothing (because, 1: You will have validated what the value really is and 2: by the time you have reached step 3 you’ll most likely be more objective/less attached to the item in question)

Step 1 – Sell Your Stuff

Scrutinize all of your stuff – do you really want it or need it? If the answer is you kind of do but you would get rid of it if you could only get at least X for it, then why not try selling it for X+? You never know. You can always just keep it if it doesn’t sell.

Assuming you are happy to sell or get rid of the item in question, get it out, clean it up, take some nice pictures of it and put an ad in eBay or a similar auction site to sell the item to the highest bidder. It’s easier than you think to sell online. If there’s a minimum amount you’d accept for it, start the bidding at that amount. Be careful of fees but eBay at the moment allows you to sell items with no fees if they don’t sell (you only pay fees if you sell the item and these are a small percentage of the sale price).

Craft a really good ad, being as honest as you can about the item so you don’t get into disputes or arguments and consider re-listing (again, currently free on eBay) it if you want to try more than once selling it this way.

If your item doesn’t sell via your auction site/online channel then consider selling it at a car-boot sale, yard-sale or jumble sale. If you’re efficient about this you’ll have some kind of process where you advertise your items on the auction site and collect items that haven’t sold, stocking them up for a later sale at the car-boot/wherever once you have enough ‘stock’ to sell.

You could even get your kids to help and make it their little project – it may be pennies, but getting a bit of pocket-money (and often to a kid it can be quite a lot of pocket money) is something that is a great experience for children and one that they will really enjoy (and helps you to de-clutter, which is our real aim here).

If you haven’t managed to sell your item(s), move on to step 2.

Step 2 – Donate Your Stuff

Instead of simply throwing away your item, donate it.

Obviously there are several places you can donate – your local school, church, neighbours etc.

You can also give your stuff via services like Freecycle. This is great for the environment as it keeps things out of land-fill but also means someone else may benefit from whatever it is you no longer want or need. It also has the added advantage of them coming and taking it away for you – particularly handy when it comes to heavy and big items.

The person collecting the item will invariably be really happy to dismantle and take away the item because they are getting it absolutely free and you can be sure it is of value to them as they had the chance to consider it via your ad beforehand.

If no-one wants your item via the auction site or even as a donation, time to move on to step 3.

Step 3 – Throw Away Your Stuff (Ideally using a Recycling Centre)

OK, so by now you should be satisfied enough to throw away your item without too much regret, having tried your best to sell it and even give it away.

If nobody wants it, do you really?

If you do of course you can still change your mind at this stage but at least you should be happy to get rid of a lot of things by the time you get here, making your de-cluttering a success, completely validated in terms of the value your things really have (on the open market if not to you), and giving things every chance to go to a good cause.

Ideally if you do need to throw away your stuff, do so via your usual waste channels but for big items consider using a recycling centre.

Make it like a Game

Sell your stuff for pennies if you like, but count it up all the same & make it like a game, you’ll end up being keen to find more things you can sell or get rid of once you get into it. Just be careful with postage costs to make sure that posting your items doesn’t cost you more than you’ve charged.

Enjoy Your New Space

De-cluttering is awesome.

You will find that the increased space (and perhaps a little extra money made from the sale of your stuff) will be well worth the effort.


Finding It Difficult to De-clutter? Try This Simple 3-Step System — 2 Comments

  1. Hey Steve,

    yes I’ve written a bit (and done a lot) on de-cluttering, downsizing and minimalism before but never really joined together that with selling stuff until recently and it really helps get over the hurdle if you’re holding on to stuff because you think it’s too valuable to throw away (whether for sentimental reasons or simple market value).

    Thanks for the comment Steve – hope all is well with you,

    best wishes,

  2. This is great advice. It’s so hard to figure out what to get rid of versus what to save. When I started decluttering recently, I never realized how many things I keep simply for nostalgia sakes or because I “might use it” one day. My wife and I have started getting more ruthless lately because we simply don’t want any more things around – they take up too much room. Personally I’d like to get rid of a lot more, but we’re slowly working our way through it all.

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