How to Declutter Like a Pro

In 2014 I started taking photos of some my purge piles throughout the year of the stuff I donated to our local thrift store. When I began sharing these pictures on Instagram many people commented that they found these pictures to be motivating for their own decluttering efforts. This is a picture collage I created of some of my 2014 declutter piles.

My 2014 Purge Piles - how to declutter like a pro

I then kept the picture taking tradition going by taking pictures of my 2015 purge piles. Here it is:

2015 Purge Piles at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

Whoa! That’s a lot of stuff leaving my house!  But here’s the thing.  All that stuff didn’t leave my house all at one time. Gosh can you imagine how overwhelming that would have been. Not only to have to find the time needed to declutter all that stuff at once but just the stress involved in having all that clutter piled up in my home while I tried to do life around it. Yikes!

Clutter + lack of time + stress = overwhelmed and chaotic

Instead, as most of you know, I do myself a favor and declutter all year long.  Don’t wait until garage sale season or spring cleaning time to start your purging. Don’t wait until you are so overwhelmed and confused about the piles scattered about. Start now.

Some of you may be wondering why I have so much stuff to declutter in the first place. Well I have three kids and their sizes, interests and needs change throughout the year as do mine and my husbands. I don’t live in a bubble nor am I minimalist. Life happens and changes. And let’s face it, I love to shop so there’s that 🙂

We have to keep up or be buried in stuff we no longer need or love or use OR have the room to store.

I routinely make decisions about our belongings and am constantly evaluating whether or not these items are serving my family any longer. Clutter also happens when we bring things into our homes without sending something out.  So as I buy new things, I try and send the same number of items out.

I toss things into my donation station (kept in my linen closet) on a regular basis and when it’s full I haul it off to the thrift store. I don’t choose to save all of that stuff up for a garage sale once a year as I just don’t have any rooms I want to lose as living space to turn into a storage locker to house it all. Plus our thrift store donates all profits to our local hospital to buy much needed equipment so it makes me feel good to know that I’m contributing to my community in this way.  Here’s my contributions so far for 2016:


Jan Purge Pile

And tomorrow’s pile – clothes, kitchen stuff, books and other random things


Don’t let your stuff own you or rule your roost.  Take back your sanity and eliminate the stress that comes with TOO MUCH STUFF.


Make regular declutter sessions something everyone in your family participates in.  Take a picture of each those purge piles and I promise you at the end of the year, you’ll look back at your piles and be so grateful it’s not still all piled up around you. Plus it really gets addicting, eventually you’ll just be delighted in tossing things out 🙂

Now go declutter something, you know you want too!! 🙂

This is a topic near and dear to my heart, so here are a few related posts:

Top 4 Reasons Why You Have So Much Clutter

Is Organizing Stressing You Out? Here’s What You Need to Know

How to Stop Clutter Before It Even Happens

Clothes Purging – How to Let Go (with free printable)

How to Make Decisions About Your Stuff When You Hate to Make Decisions

How to Track Drop-Off Donations for Tax Purposes (US residents)



Filed under: Clutter Control, Purging


19 Responses to How to Declutter Like a Pro

  1. 1
    Daria says

    I too have a donation station. (Although I don’t call it that. Cute name!) I keep a box in my garage marked for our local thrift store which donates proceeds to cancer research. When the box is full, off I go. My husband, a CPA, feels that garage sales don’t pay off more than tax deductions from charitable giving, unless you have large items like furniture to sell.

  2. 2
    Charmaine says

    I recently started a donation basket in the house. Easy to place stuff in there as soon as I don’t need them. Once a fortnight, I drop them off at the Goodwill store which is literally up the road from us. You are right, it does become addictive now.

  3. 3
    Sue says

    Isn’t it a great feeling to purge, and know that you are doing a good service?
    My sister and I work in a food pantry once a week. It has really motivated us to get rid of stuff and bring to the “free table” (non food items) that people can choose from.
    I’ve been donating for years and it just feels good!
    Good for you 🙂

  4. 4
    Melissa says

    I think you just broke Marie Kondo’s heart a little 🙂
    We do this too (though not as often as we should be!) But otherwise the piles would drown us.

  5. 5
    MelanieL says

    Great post! I have given your love/use/room to store tip to people who’ve asked about my ability to keep an uncluttered home. When you think of things in that way, it makes a difference what to hang on to.

  6. 6
    Ingrid Gusdorf says

    Husband is busy painting the inside of our house. Before we move the furniture away from walls, I totally empty wallunits etc. I give EVERY item a dust/wash. And then decide if I return/rehome/donate/trash the items.
    It’s amazing how much I was able to purge.
    Normally I detest doing all this…but am presently enjoying the results.

  7. 7
    Jacqui says

    Like taking pictures, I weigh my piles to see how much weight I’ve lost! 33 pounds so far this year 🙂

    • 7.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Oh my goodness such a great idea!! Well done!!!

  8. 8
    Yvonne says

    I’ve started my piles. I recently set up donation stations on 2 levels of my house. So far in 1 week I’ve filled 3 boxes upstairs and 2 in the basement. Plus I got rid of a ton of paper recycling this week. I am on a roll!

    • 8.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Whoot, that’s what I like to hear Yvonne!!

  9. 9
    Suzanne says

    The Spring Cleaning Bug hit me about mid-January after our daughter went back to school. I haven’t taken pictures, but my husband has been witness to all the trash, recycle, and boxes/bags of donations going out of the house. I’ve worked on projects in spite of all the piles/clutter. Can’t wait to see how wonderful and easy it will be to do things once I don’t have to fight that. It’s such a great feeling and also knowing that things being donated will help those organizations much more than my storing them for no reason. Reality has set in and I’m excited to simplify!

      • Suzanne says

        Purge until it fits and taking my time instead of trying to do it all at once. Those are the two things that have helped this actually be rather fun! That and the big smile I have every time I open my sewing and crafting cabinets 🙂

  10. 10
    Karen says

    As my son an I are downsizing from a 1200 sq ft house to a 30′ trailer we are eliminating all but essentials. So far, on the 500 things in 14 days we are over 1300!! We have a long way to go yet.
    Love your blog . . your ideas and challenges really help a lot!!!

  11. 11
    Olga @ MangoTomato says

    YES! I feel so much better after dehoarding. I have a bag inside of my closet. My condo building has a bookshelf inside the laundry room, so I put a few cookbooks there.
    The hardest thing for me is finding someone to pick up my donations b/c I don’t have a car to drop it off at places such as GoodWill.

  12. 12
    Janet Barclay says

    It feels like I’m constantly de-cluttering, but I’ve never thought of capturing it in photos. I really should! A lot of the stuff gets photographed anyway, because I post it on a give-and-receive group on Facebook. Tomorrow is a new month – what better time to start?

  13. 13
    Olive Wagar says

    Great idea to take photos! I kept a written list one year & made it into a blog post to show the same thing–you really make progress when you consistently eliminate items all year long. A very funny book by Don Aslett is called “Lose 200 Lbs. This Weekend” by decluttering! A bit dated, but really a good read!


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