Declutter with the Mindset of a Minimalist

Do You Have the Mindset of a Minimalist? Take the quiz below to find out how to declutter your home.

This is a great checklist for both decluttering and time management. If you find that Marie Kondo’s clutter clearing technique isn’t working for you, try this. See how many of these decluttering tips you can check off as systems you currently use, or add them to your routine to free up time and enhance productivity at home and in the office.


❏ I’m a quick decision maker.

I don’t dither and am able to quickly identify what to keep, give away and discard.


❏ I have good questions and clear criteria to help me decide easily.

Useful Questions:

Is this enhancing my life or taking up space?

How many of these do I really need? Could I manage just as well with less?

What’s the worst thing that could happen if I let this go? Could I live with that?

When was this used or worn last? Why is this? (If it’s been longer than a year it usually goes!)

Is this genuinely useful in my life or could someone else have better use of it?

With uncompleted projects and hobbies I ask: How committed am I to finishing this? Do I really need that on my to do list now?

Useful Criteria: Is it useful, beautiful or meaningful to me? Does it give me joy?

❏ I have limits on how much sentimental and meaningful stuff I keep.

I allocate each family member one large plastic box each for memories, and they need to decide what they choose to keep in that limited space. For example, I only keep one baby outfit to remember how small and cute my children were; I don’t need to keep them all. I only have a couple of their school books of their stories, drawings, etc.

❏ I have a wait and see box.

If I am not sure about getting rid of something I put it in my “wait and see” box in the attic. It buys me some time, but if after a year I haven’t missed or needed it out it goes. (Make sure to label the box with the date you store it!)

❏ I don’t do guilt or obligation with presents.

I always politely thank someone for their gift, and find something genuine to say about it; however, that politeness doesn’t make me feel obliged to keep it. If I get something that doesn’t meet my criteria of attractiveness or usefulness out it goes to charity. Without giving it a second thought, I tend to unwrap something and put it straight into the give-away box.

❏ I have a focused tunnel-vision and stay in one room at a time.

It is easy to get overwhelmed if you let yourself get side-tracked into other areas. To prevent this I stay in the area I am working on. I take cleaning materials, a rubbish bag, and 4 boxes into the room I am tidying. I label the boxes: 1) give away; 2) sell; 3) sort; and 4) other rooms.

The rubbish bag is for stuff that is clearly broken or useless.

The give-away box and sell box are self-explanatory.

The sort box is for things like odd socks, pieces of jigsaw puzzles or missing bits of games, or clothes that need mending, etc.

The other room box is for things that belong to another child’s bedroom or another room and need to be returned there. Do not put away as you go or you’ll get distracted.

❏ I pace myself and usually only do one room a day.

I like to do one thing well to total completion. Then, I have time to clean it afterwards, as well as deal with the contents of the sort and other room boxes. The next day you start again in a new area with a new rubbish bag and empty boxes.

I also do the hard things like cleaning and sorting in the morning, and save lighter tasks like sorting files, magazines and photos for later in the day when I am tired.

❏ I focus on what I am going to get, rather than focus on what I have to do.

I don’t think about how much work it is going to take. I focus only on the benefits when it is finished. Knowing what the benefits are is energizing. I love creating cleanliness, space, order and the convenience of finding things easily.

❏ I recognize the difference between organizing and clutter clearing.

Organizing and decluttering are separate processes. First declutter by throwing out what you don’t want. Then organize what’s left.

❏ I make it easy to discard.

If it is too hard to get rid of your unwanted stuff, it will put you off getting rid of things and the clutter clearing will drag on. I personally find it easiest to give most of the stuff away to a charity shop, especially one that will collect things from your home.

Also, I ask my teenagers to sell more valuable stuff online in places like Trade Me (they can do this more quickly and easily than I can). I give them a share of the profits for their time and effort.

❏ I maintain a clutter-free environment.

To prevent more stuff from quickly piling up, I have clarity on what I really need.

Clothes: I go through my wardrobe each season and make a list of what I need. I know what colors and styles work best for me, and will mix well with my existing clothes.

Appliances and household goods: I make a list of appliances and household items that will need replacing each year, then wait for a sale and then purchase whatever has the best reduction. By the end of the year, I have replaced the worn out items and bought top quality stuff at sale prices. I rarely browse in shops to avoid the temptation of buying stuff that’s not needed.  You save a lot of time and money if you have tunnel vision in shops and go directly to the item you came to buy.

❏ I love space and order more than I love stuff.

For me a cluttered space is a cluttered mind. I feel rattled, overwhelmed and grumpy in a messy, disorganized space.



Submitted courtesy of Annemarie Coulson.

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