One of the biggest reasons people hold onto clutter is because of inertia. Once you bring something home, you forget about it, think you might use it "someday," or plan on making the decision to keep or discard later. Soon, however, your home is so full of clutter that it feels overwhelming to tackle it all. It doesn't have to be mentally exhausting to get rid of junk, though, especially if you break the process down and declutter one space at a time.
5 Things to Get Rid of in the Kitchen
- Plastic silverware: Unless you eat on the go often, you don't need plastic silverware taking up space when you already have proper silverware in your home. Take the plastic silverware into work and stash them in your desk for when you need extra silverware for your packed lunch.
- Condiment packets: No one needs to save condiment packets from fast-food restaurants. Simply buy bottles of ketchup and mustard and toss those extra bits of plastic.
- Unitaskers: Gadgets that only serve one purpose sometimes look cool when you find them, but end up taking space because you don't use them frequently. Common unitaskers include quesadilla makers; avocado, egg, or strawberry slicers; herb scissors; and bagel cutters. If you haven't used it for over a year, it's time to recycle, donate, or consign it.
- Mismatched or warped food storage containers: Go through your drawer of food storage containers and match every container to its top. Check to see if any are warped or otherwise unusable. Recycle anything you can't use.
- Expired pantry items: Spices lose their flavor over time, and other pantry staples, such as flour and sugar, don't perform as well after some time as fresh ingredients. If you haven't used a pantry item for six months, consider getting rid of it.
10 Things to Get Rid of in Your Office
- Newspapers: Newspapers more than two days old should be recycled. Unless there's a mention of your child or an article you absolutely need, toss any old newspapers. If you do want to keep an article, clip it, and file it appropriately.
- Pens with no ink: If a pen isn't working, you don't need it.
- Power cords you can no longer use: If you’re really not sure if you can throw it out, create a storage bin and label it "cords." Remember, however, old power cords can't be used in newer devices in most cases.
- Magazines more than two months old: Magazines are tricky because they often contain recipes or articles you're hoping to read. If you're serious about a recipe or article, clip it, and store it properly (or look to see if the recipe is printed online). Everything else should be recycled.
- Expired coupons: These are useless—recycle them.
- Old cell phones: There’s no good reason to keep these, as they are likely outdated and just taking up space. Old cell phones can be donated to organizations like Cell Phones for Soldiers, which uses the proceeds from donated cell phones to send prepaid international calling cards to troops.
- Last year's calendar: People hang onto these with the intention of transferring important dates from one year to the next. You have until January 31 of the new year to complete that task, but if you take longer than that, recycle it.
- Greeting cards: Some greeting cards have sentimental value, with a heartfelt message handwritten inside. Most, however, are generic "happy birthday" cards that lose their significance minutes after they're read. Recycle them.
- Receipts: Some receipts should be saved, especially if they represent tax-deductible purchases or items you need to try on. Otherwise, they should be pitched. Alternatively, get out ahead of clutter by opting for digital receipts or scanning and digitally filing the paper receipts.
- Old crafting supplies: Unless you're an avid crafter, you are likely the proud owner of a dried out bottle of glue, various spools of ribbon, and other miscellaneous items that are now useless or unlikely to be used. Get rid of the things that no longer work as expected and donate other items to an elementary school art teacher or local YMCA.
8 Things to Get Rid of in Your Closet
- Mismatched socks: Keep a small basket on top of your bureau for mismatched socks. After a month, if you haven’t found a match, either toss them or re-purpose them as dust rags.
- Eyeglasses with the wrong prescription: Donate these immediately. Someone else could be using them.
- Accessories you never wear: Donate items you haven't worn in years, and organize and store those you actually wear.
- Old clothing that no longer fits: If you've been hanging onto something for years in hopes you'll fit into it again, odds are it's not even in style anymore.
- Extra buttons: This is another item your child's art teacher will love.
- Broken sunglasses: You say you’re going to buy one of those kits to fix them but you haven’t yet, so toss them.
- Shoes that you haven’t worn in five years: Your shoes should fit well, feel good, and have the right look. If they do not, donate or consign them.
- Old towels and bedding: Animal shelters gladly accept donations of old linens.
6 Other Things to Throw Away ASAP
- Old remote controls: Everything comes with a remote control these days: iPod speakers, air conditioners, fans. If you don’t use it, trash it.
- Last season’s sunblock: Toss it. Sunblock degrades in quality over time.
- Old makeup: If your cosmetics have changed color, lost their scent, or changed consistency, it's time to get rid of them. Plus, if you haven't used them in over a year, dump them.
- Old prescriptions and other medications: Check expiration dates. If it's past its prime, contact your local pharmacy to learn about disposal options.
- VHS and cassette tapes: If you have old tapes with content you love, but no VCR or tape player to play them, have the contents converted to a digital format, and then toss the old tapes.
- Product Manuals: Manuals are useful, but fortunately, most manuals and troubleshooting suggestions are right on the product website.