How do I get rid of all the junk in my house?

Getting rid of clutter is a daunting task, but it can help your serenity and comfort if you go about it the right way. You don’t have to be an extreme minimalist to enjoy living with less stuff–just being willing to make some changes can make a big difference in clearing out unnecessary items so you can focus on what’s really important.

Indecision is the first obstacle to getting rid of junk in your house – you may feel paralyzed by sheer volume or overwhelmed by how to begin. Just get started, and you’ll find that the task isn’t as hard as it might seem at first. The following suggestions can help you conquer clutter and simplify your life:

  1. Define “junk” for yourself. You may not be able to decide what belongs and what doesn’t, but a little self-reflection goes a long way toward simplifying your environment if you ask yourself whether something matters enough to keep it around. Do you need two pairs of jeans? Toss one. How about that duplicate blender? Don’t even think about keeping it once you start thinking about the stuff cluttering your house.
  2. Don’t fall prey to sunk cost fallacy. If you buy something, whether it’s a pair of shoes or a book on investing, and then decide to have it is too much trouble, don’t get emotionally attached to keeping it just because you already paid for it. You’re better off not buying something in the first place than hanging onto something that burdens your space and clutters your life. In other words–if you buy junk, you’ll have more opportunities to throw out junk!
  3. Don’t be afraid of taking an occasional “vacation” from organizing if you feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of junk in your house. Just set some temporary goals like reducing clutter in the living room or kitchen, and then come back to it later if you need to.
  4. Don’t buy something new to replace junk that’s about to go away. If you’re getting rid of a pair of sandals because they’ve worn out or broken, don’t replace them unless you really need to have that specific pair. The same goes for items like bedding–don’t buy an expensive set just because your old one is starting to fade in spots: it isn’t worth the trouble! Even if you can afford an upgrade on everything, resist the temptation–it will allow you more flexibility as life throws unexpected twists and turns at you over time.
  5. Be ruthless with incoming junk mail. File it when you get it, and do so immediately. Use a recycle bin for junk mail you can’t file away, like catalogs and credit card offers. If your household ends up with too much reading material this way, consider unsubscribing from some magazines or taking a break from the daily newspaper during holiday seasons, which are notorious for sending out extra free gifts to make you feel obligated to subscribe again.
  6. Shop strategically to minimize unwanted gifts and duplicates. Know what kinds of things you really need before going shopping. Consider buying generic brands instead of well-known ones, since generic brands often have cheaper products with equal quality–or even better quality than their expensive counterparts! Not sure whether an item is worth keeping? Try selling it or donating it: if no one wants it, then toss it –you’ll save storage space and not have any questionable items cluttering your cabinets.
  7. Get rid of stuff as soon as you can and consider minimizing what you keep so that you don’t have to worry about too much clutter ever again. Your goal should be a home in which everything has a place, and where it’s always easy to find that place. Reduce the number of categories you use for organizing–you’re better off with fewer groups than many, chaotic piles of stuff.
  8. Consider getting rid of all paper documents, like old bills or magazine clippings, instead of saving them electronically if possible–it will make filing easier and save space!
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Do not let sentimental attachments stand in the way of getting rid of something. Emotional attachments sometimes cloud judgment and cause people to keep things that really don’t matter at all without even realizing they’re doing so; if possible, donate these items or sell them before throwing them out to minimize clutter and make more room for things that matter.

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