How I Decluttered My Life in 48 Hours

January 7, 2012

Many bloggers have made resolutions to declutter their homes and their lives this month and this year. If you’re one of them, I’m sorry to tell you that I’ve beat you to it! I unpacked all my boxes and organized everything I own in less than 48 hours. Seriously, it’s all done (and has been done since Tuesday afternoon). How did I do it? Well, let’s see…

I Unpacked… Everything!
I literally emptied the contents of every single box onto my living room and dining room floors. Yes, it was a complete disaster! But I hate messes, and I especially hate clutter, so it motivated me that much more.

I Set a Deadline
Time was also a huge motivator, as I knew I was only “off” for a few days and then I’d be back to work, school, my internship, newest writing gig, etc. I joked with a friend that I would have everything done before she came over for a visit. Her reply: “Knowing you, that wouldn’t surprise me!” And I did it!

I Made Three Piles
Have you ever seen TLC’s Cleaning Spaces? I don’t think they air it anymore but I used to love watching that show. One of the techniques I took from it was to create three piles whenever you’re cleaning out a room. You need a sell pile, a toss pile, and a donate pile. In the case of moving, I added an extra pile for recycling.

In one corner of the dining room, I put an empty box and filled it with things I was going to try to sell online. (It is currently overflowing!) If I knew I was going to throw something out, I put it in a plastic bag in the kitchen. I put together another plastic bag full of clothes to donate. And the recycling pile… well, it was the biggest of them all! (So. Much. Cardboard.)

I Made Executive Decisions
I tend not to be overly sentimental as it is, but I took all the emotion out of decluttering. If I hadn’t used it or missed it in the last year, it was cut. If I didn’t feel good in a piece of clothing, it was cut. And since most of my belongings had been in storage for the last year, it was even easier to make those decisions.

And that was it! I’ve since taken all the garbage out, half of the recycling, and am slowly selling items that I’ve put online. Through the process, I placed everything I was keeping where I wanted it to go. And after four loads of laundry (yes, I have my own washer/dryer) and a few sinks full of dishes, I was done. (Will post pics tomorrow!)

The only thing I need now is something to put on my walls… but that’s not really in the budget.

What are some of your best tips/tricks for decluttering?

  • Simple Rich Living January 7, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Nice work! I am sentimental kind but I suck when it comes declutter :)

    • Cait January 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      I eventually just had to ask myself if I was so attached to things that I had to move them w/ me wherever I go. It got easier to say no no no, after everything had been packed up for a year.

  • Niki January 7, 2012 at 11:40 am

    It must feel great.

    We move quite often and this is always our tactic. We get rid of a bunch of stuff before and after a move, but then we spend 3-4 years accumulating more stuff. Although I have to say this last year I hardly bought anything with trying to get out of debt and all.

    • Cait January 8, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      Moving often is not easy but it can help you decide what’s worth keeping and what’s not. Nice work (this year)!

  • addvodka January 7, 2012 at 11:49 am

    This is something I need to do, desperately, since we’re moving soon. I hate bringing boxes of stuff i don’t need when I move, so I’m looking forward to being able to throw out, donate, and sell a whole bunch of stuff.

    We currently live in less than 500 sq feet, so we haven’t been able to accumulate too much stuff. Our move will still be half a dozen truckloads, though, unless we scale back!

    • Cait January 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      I wanted to go through my boxes before moving but didn’t have the extra space to do so at the ‘rents. I highly recommend you take a few weeks to pack, so you can make some early decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of!

  • Brittany January 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    As I type this I *just* finished going through my books and now have the final pile to sell to a local bookstore and the rest to donate to the local library. So yaaaayyy for getting things decluttered!

    I think one main thing that helped me start my decluttering process is getting over the faux emotional memories of things. Like…a couple months ago I finally donated one garbage bag’s worth of stuffed animals (mostly stuffed puffins) to charity. Why has a 29 year old been toting around a box of stuffed animals for years? Yeah, not really sure myself. How about all the books I’ve owned since, oh, the age of nine? Yeah, I actually moved all those books with me from Alaska to Oregon and only JUST (since October) donated them to the library, as well.

    As an only child my stuff was MY STUFF. I wasn’t one of those spoiled only children. My parents gave me a full supply of books, chemistry sets, biology kits, rock tumblers, and all manner of sciencey things that don’t require any one else’s input. Now that I’m older it has been really hard to get rid of things because I’m like, “But I had a great time with that rock tumbler!” and what I have to beat myself over the head with a stick with is, “But you haven’t used it in almost two decades, Brittany.” There needs to be a two decades rule.

    We plan on moving to a house sometime this year and I reeeally want to be at the most minimal point I can. Plus, I like not having to worry about my stuff, I like not visually seeing a bunch of stuff, and I like having the money I’ve made off stuff instead of that stuff. (There’s a trend, you see.)

    So GO YOU!!! And I hope you make some good money off the things that you have in your “to sell” pile!

    • Cait January 8, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      I have a few stuffed animals that I don’t know how to get rid of. Not literally, (I know I could donate them somewhere) but I do have some attachment to them. I always wonder what the heck I’m thinking though… but then I remember which one my sis gave me when I graduated, or a friend got me for Christmas… and so, they move w/ me, lol.

  • afistfulodollars January 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    (I just typed out a reply and it was eaten! Noooo…)

    I’m amazed at your mad decluttering skills! I’m kind of a packrat, and I’m moving in July. If I can sort and unpack things in even half the time you did, I’ll consider that a huge accomplishment! I’ve been meaning to sell a few things of mine online for months, but haven’t decided the best way to do it (and haven’t gotten around to taking pictures either). Are you using ebay, or craigslist/kijiji? Would love to hear about some good techniques for that.

    • Cait January 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Oh nooo, who ate it? ;)

      I use It’s obviously a local site but Craigslist has worked well for me in the past too. How to sell things online would probably be a good post for this week… thanks! And stay tuned.

  • Cassie January 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Nicely done :) I really need to do this still, I have a handful of boxes left in my basement that I need to finish going through.

    • Cait January 8, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      haha, make that a goal for this month? Year? ;)

  • laura @ no more spending January 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Love it Cait!

    I’m ruthless with our possessions and operate a one in, one out policy. It keeps our home uncluttered.

    PS. Love your blog template :)

    • Cait January 8, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      I’m trying not to bring anything in, as I declutter… mostly because it’s not in the budget! But I think the one in, one out policy is a good one for every home to have.

      And thanks! I love it too :)

  • spendersbroke January 7, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I’m like you, I hate clutter and dragging around stuff…we move a lot, so having a lot of junk to move stinks.

    My mom, though, has one of the best methods for getting rid of things. If she has a few things she thinks she can live without but isn’t sure, she puts it in a box and puts the box in the basement. The box will sit there for 6 months at max. If she needs an item, it’s still there, but if 6 months goes by and she doesn’t need it, the whole box gets donated or tossed.

    • Cait January 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      That’s a great idea! If I can’t sell everything in my sell pile by the end of January, I’m going to donate it.

  • JA January 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Nice job! My secret is to keep all the boxes out of sight. :)

    • Cait January 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      haha, out of sight, out of mind? ;)

  • centsofacountrygirl January 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Decluttering and organizing can be a big job, so good in you for tackling it. I like to recruit someone to help when I’m decluttering. I find it helpful to have an objective second opinion when deciding what should be kept and what should be tossed.