Declutter system

There are probably as many ways of decluttering as there are people. I was thinking I should give you guys an idea about how I do MY declutter process. You know, how do I decide what to keep, and what to get rid off, and what to do with everything in between 🙂

Every once in a while I do proper clean outs, either of an specific area (room, closet, stereo bench…) or of specific items (books, vases, towels….)

I sort the stuff into three piles.

  • Keep
  • Out the door (either donate, sell or trash)
  • Not sure

Why three piles? The ideal would be only two, the Keep and Out the door, but I know I’m bound to run into a few items that I’m having a hard time making a quick decision on. That’s why I have the third pile.

This is what I do:

First I’ll find a couple of boxes to use when I do my declutter rounds. If I don’t have a box or two available I just sort them into piles. The idea is to go quickly through the stuff and not “dilly dally” over each item.

I pull everything out of one cabinet/closet/drawer at the time, or pull out all items of same sort (glasses, towels, make-up, pants, computer equipment…) depending on what I’m decluttering that day. And as I pull them out I sort them into my three piles.

What goes where?

KEEP – Items I:

  • Love and use
  • Use daily, weekly, monthly or even maybe yearly (like my Christmas tree foot)
  • Need to function (stuff I need for the house or my life to function properly e.g. a drill, a snow shuffle, a printer …)
  • Love for sentimental/emotional reasons
  • Like because they put a smile on my face, the lightens my day or bring joy to my heart (even if I don’t use them)
  • If it’s cloths – That they fit me and I look god in them


  • have not used the last 12 months
  • will not use the next 12 months
  • do no longer have a need/use for
  • do not like (even if its a gift, if it don’t bring me joy ,I get rid of it. I mean, why would I want to keep something that I don’t like?)
  • broken items
  • items that no longer fit (e.g. clothes, bed linen, sports equipment…)
  • if it’s cloths – items that do not look good on me or feel comfortable in (even if they fit.. why would I wear stuff I’m not comfortable with).
  • if it’s cloths – items that might look great, but that I don’t feel comfortable in. If I won’t actually use them – they gotta go.

NOT SURE – Items I:

  • have a hard time making a quick decisions on
  • might have a need/use for the next 3, 6 or 12 months, maybe for a special project/task but I’m not really sure
  • if its cloths – items that I’m not sure about, they might not be a perfect fit, maybe even a size up or down from where I am right now, but there is “intention” to fit into them within the next 6 months
  • if its cloths – items that I’m not sure about, they do fit, but will I actually use them, I might have an intention to use them this coming summer/fall/winter….

When I have done my quick sort, I’ll tackle the not sure pile.

Going through the not sure pile, I’ll think seriously about each item. Is this something I love or even like? Do I really need it, or can I use something else I already have? Do I have enough items of this type already (ref. How much do we really need). Do I want this item to fill my place just in case, or is it just as easy to get a new one, if and should I ever need it?

Even after this thorough go-through, I might still be left with an item or two  (or three or more 😉 )  that didn’t make it into the Keep or Out the door pile. These I’ll put into my Allowance box. What on earth is an allowance box you might ask? It’s where I’ll put items I need a little more grace period on, to see if I really need them. You can read all about here 🙂

You might find that having an allowance box is a great tool for you as well.

And then I have a “Store” box.
What!! another box? My goodness girl, how many different boxes do you need? 😉 OK, this box is really small and it’s for one purpose only, yes one purpose. I’ll explain.

I have some items that are brand new, never used.  Last time I was in US, I purchased some new t-shirts, jeans and socks (much cheaper there than in Norway). These are items that are meant as replacement, for when the stuff I use daily, wears out. Rather than having them together with my daily clothes, I keep them in a separate box. Essentially that box is my “cloth store”. And when for example my jeans wear out, I will dig into this box and pull out a brand new pair, rather than needing to go to a real store 😉

OK – I’m all sorted, now what?

Now that I have sorted a the stuff into Keep, Out the door, Allowance or even my “Store” piles.

  • I’ll do a clean of the area all keeps are going back to.
  • I’ll put/hang the keep items back into it’s place. I place like items with like, it makes it easier to locate the items later.
  • I’ll put away the Allowance box and/or the “Store” box, in their dedicated area.
  • Then I’m left with the Out the door pile.

What to do with the Out the door pile?

This pile I sort into trash, donate or sell. As soon as this is sorted;

  • Take the trash out of the house right away, depending on what this is, I’ll recycle as much as I can (paper/plastic/glass..)
  • The donate items I’ll put in the car right away, and dispose of them as soon as I can
  • The sell items I will post on-line for sale as soon as possible, and if I don’t manage to sell them within a specific time frame, I’ll donate the items.

Well, I think that is it 🙂 

Question or other good ideas. I’d love to hear it. Please leave me comment below.

12 thoughts on “Declutter system

  1. I think a lot of people use systems like this, but yours is exceptional in the details you provide about how to analyze the “not sure pile” and the “allowance box.” Giving those items “out if not used by” expiration dates is a great idea. I’ll give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

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