4 Tips Minimalists Stand By When It Comes to Decluttering

minimalist living room

Desiree Burns Interiors

As you embark on a home organization project or two, why not take a page out of a minimalist's book? As it turns out, there's a lot we can learn from self-proclaimed minimalists and their approach to decluttering.

"Minimalism is really about living more intentionally and creating a home and life that reflect your personal values," explains Shira Gill, an organizing expert and author of Minimalista and Organized Living. " When we invest in setting up our physical surroundings with care and treating the things we own with respect, our homes become less of a dumping ground and more of a sanctuary."

Read on for four key tips that minimalists stand by when decluttering their spaces, and get ready to witness major change within your own home after implementing these helpful techniques.

Meet the Expert

  • Shira Gill is a Bay Area, California, based organizing expert and author of Minimalista and Organized Living .
  • Jennifer Burger is the founder of a minimalism-focused blog Simply + Fiercely. She is based in Queensland, Australia.

donate basket

Vivian Johnson for Shira Gill

1. Set Your Intentions

Prior to beginning a major decluttering process, you'll want to set your intentions. "Begin by clarifying why you want to declutter in the first place," she urges. "Start with a clear why. What impact will decluttering have on your life/career/relationships? What do you want to create more space for? What new results do you want to create in your life?"

Setting a clear goal will help you stay on track, and it'll help you understand why you may be decluttering, so you can hold yourself accountable "Being firmly anchored by a compelling, values-based reason for getting organized will help you stay motivated and on track—even when the last thing you want to do is slog through the piles."

2. Reflect on Why You're Getting Rid of an Item

According to Jennifer Burger, the founder of a minimalism-focused blog Simply + Fiercely, there is a reason why we have so much clutter.

"Clutter stems from a lack of clarity, meaning the more you learn about your taste and lifestyle, the better," she explains. She advises individuals to learn from their clutter. "For example, let’s say you’re decluttering an old sweater," she states. "Before you let go, ask yourself why you’re not keeping it—and be specific! Is it the color, the fabric, or the fit?"

You can then use this information to determine what types of other items to keep or toss. "If you didn’t wear your sweater because that shade of pink makes you feel washed out, you could quickly look through your closet for anything else in that color," adds Burger. This method will help you save more time and energy.

Not sure where to donate those pre-loved pieces? "Think outside the box," urges Gill. "Preschools, churches, theaters, community centers, and parenting groups are all great resources for giving your unwanted items a second life." Consider looking up local donation places near your area for more options.

minimalist closet

Vivian Johnson for Shira Gill

3. Make the Most of 15 Minutes

Minimalists are intentional about keeping their spaces tidy and clutter-free all of the time, not just following a major purge. One easy way to curtail clutter? Taking on a 15-minute-long organization project.

"Try cleaning a single surface like your nightstand, dresser, or dining room table," says Gill "Ditch any expired products that are cluttering up your bathroom or medicine cabinet." You might be surprised how relieved you feel after completing one of these small tasks. As Gill puts it, "a little effort will go a long way in making your space feel more cared for and comfortable."

4. Don't Keep Items to Use in the Future

Burger acknowledges that it can be difficult for people to part with certain items due to the fear that these pieces will come in handy someday down the line.

However, she suggests reframing this approach. "Ask yourself, 'if I needed this someday and didn’t have it, what could I do instead?' You're asking your brain to look for solutions,'" explains Burger. "Your focus is on all the ways you'd get by if you didn't have your item (and odds are there are plenty), making it much easier to let go."