With 2020 here, many of us have been looking back on the decade that was — sharing throwback pics on Instagram, our most-listened-to music, and most-loved books and podcasts. This kind of nostalgia is fun, a little time capsule to see just how far we’ve come. Less fun, however, is the time capsule of clutter that often surrounds us at the end of a busy year — or even decade. 

While we work to set intentions, draft resolutions, and prepare for the year ahead, decluttering is often a task that’s overlooked, but can help set us up for a successful new year. A fresh start is hard to come by if piles of papers and old statements are clogging up your workspace, if the “catch-all” drawer (we all have one) is something you’d rather ignore, or if your closets are full to bursting. Instead of ignoring these areas and living with the discomfort, why not tackle your to-do list for real and declutter before the new year? 

Photo by Yasmine Boheas on Unsplash


Besides the obvious organizational benefits (it’s hard to argue that it’s nice to know exactly where everything is), there’s some positive psychology behind having a decluttered space. Studies show that clutter can increase stress for individuals and families (how many of us have argued over who puts the dishes or laundry away or deal with a stack of bills?). When that clutter is cleared away, everyone can breathe a bit easier. In addition to relieving stress, reducing clutter in your home can support positive decision making and self-efficacy, and help you keep a clear mind and reduce anxiety. By clearing away old mail, putting things back where they belong, and streamlining closets and other areas that need tidying, individuals are better able to enjoy and relax within their spaces. If you’re ready to kickoff 2020 feeling rested, relaxed, and positive, decluttering is a great place to start. Below are our tips for tackling the mess once and for all:

#1—Determine your clutter “personality”

We love this tip from HuffPost that encourages readers to determine their clutter “personality.” We all have one, maybe you’re part of the “just in case” faction, someone who can’t get rid of things because who knows maybe you’ll need it someday?! Or perhaps you fall in with the must-save-it-all worrier crowd that fears what will happen if they toss out something they might need in the future. Or maybe you’re dealing with too many of the same thing, purchasing doubles or replacements for things you already have, simply because you can’t find the original. Figuring out your clutter persona can help you move forward with a strategy.

For example, the person who keeps things “just in case” may find it easier to part with things when they picture how much someone else would enjoy them. Whereas the person with too many of the same thing could use some organizational tools and the one worried they may need something in the future may want to begin digitizing their documents. Whatever your clutter style, pinpoint it, bring in help if needed, and make a plan.


Photo by Yasmine Boheas on Unsplash


#2—Deal with the trash first

Often the easiest way to begin decluttering is to remove the obvious trash first. Go room by room with a trash bag or recycling bin and get rid of old receipts, papers, stray clothing tags, empty or near-empty toiletry items (these can often be recycled), and anything else that’s simply garbage. Removing the unnecessary can make the process of sorting through the other stuff much easier. While you’re collecting trash, create a designated spot for papers only and catalogs. Papers are often the number one clutter item that collects in the home. When it comes time to sort through the papers, determine which bills and statements can be converted to digital delivery to save yourself a headache — and a few trees while you’re at it — and catalogs can be unsubscribed from once the decluttering is complete. If you don’t already have a file system, this is a great time to make one.

#3—Go room by room, closet by closet

If you only have a few areas to declutter, you can likely conquer the task in an afternoon, However, if the job is bigger — say, decluttering an entire home or apartment — you may want to break up the task into smaller increments by tackling your space room by room and closet by closet. If you have other family members you can enlist, task them with an area and get to work, bringing stray items to their respective homes and sorting out “to donate” items.


Photo by Yasmine Boheas on Unsplash


#4—Designate a “Donation Bin”

As you declutter, you’ll likely come across some perfectly usable items that you no longer have use for. Instead of throwing them away or keeping them, create a donation pile you can add to throughout the decluttering project. If you have a difficult time parting with items you know you no longer need, just imagine how happy those items will make their future owners, or how useful they’ll be to someone in need. Once your decluttering is complete, immediately bring those items to your local donation drop-off. If you’re prone to clutter and keeping things, it’s important to get those items out of your home and into the hands of donation volunteers so you’re not tempted to keep anything “just in case.”

#5—Create a home for everything — and stick to it

You don’t keep your jacket stuffed under the couch, do you? No, because it has a home. Your jacket belongs in the closet or hung up on a hook — and the same goes for the other items in your space. Creating homes for everything will make it that much easier to stay organized moving forward. If something doesn’t have a home — create one, or consider parting with the item. Is it all that necessary to begin with?


Photo by Uliana Kopanytsia on Unsplash


Do you have decluttering tips to share? Sound off on social by tagging @AvocadoMattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine!