Learn how to get rid of unwanted stuff quickly and with minimal effort. Use this simple 3 step game to start living clutter-free today!

You’re drowning in junk. It’s okay to admit it—that’s the first step, after all. Luckily, it doesn’t take a twelve-step program to beat this problem. We asked three professional organizers for their top tips on how to get rid of stuff, then used those tips to create a three-step “game” anyone can use to start getting rid of that stuff today.

How to Get Rid of Stuff: Step One

A game without rules only ends with frustrated players. So, the first step to getting serious about getting rid of stuff is to create rules for choosing what to get rid of. This tip comes to us from Melanie Dennis of Neat Streak, who explains that “using rules streamlines the process, and directs your thinking.”

To put this tip into play:

  • Identify the items in your home that you have too much of.
  • Decide on a reasonable number of each item to keep.
  • The number you choose for each item should be based on the realities of your daily routine.

Melanie Dennis offers tips on getting rid of stuff.I recommend using a finite number to help narrow down what to keep.
Example: We are keeping only 10 coffee mugs because when more than 10 people come for coffee we would most likely use disposable. Example: We are keeping only 8 bath towels because if you have eight dirty towels you should run the washer.

Melanie Dennis, CPO® | Neat Streak

How to Get Rid of Stuff: Step Two

Now that you know the rules, set a time limit for carrying them out. Christina Hidek of Streamlined Living calls this “The Time Game” and recommends using 15 minute increments.

To put this step into play:

  • Choose a room you want to make clutter-free.
  • Have a trash bag and a donation bag on hand.
  • Set the timer for whatever interval of time you’ve chosen.
  • Do a quick sort of all the clutter in the room, placing trash and donations immediately into their respective bags.
  • Stop sorting when the timer goes off.

Christina Hidek gives tips on how to get rid of stuff.My clients who play this game are amazed at how much stuff gets put away and how many decisions they are able to make in a really short amount of time! I also highly recommend playing this game with family members. It’s a great way to get things tidy in a hurry.

Christina Hidek | Streamlined Living

Racing the clock forces you to turn off the pack rat part of your brain that agonizes over how to get rid of stuff. If you’re so fired up when the buzzer sounds that you don’t want to quit, reset the timer before continuing to get the same effect.

How to Get Rid of Stuff: Step 3

Games are more fun when you’re winning. So, start your journey to a clutter-free home by doping yourself up with some initial quick successes. According to Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton of Organizing Maniacs, starting with the stuff you don’t really have to think about will prime you to tackle the trickier stuff down the road.

To put this step into play:

  • Pick a room, grab your bags and set your timer.
  • Focus on old magazines and mail, items that no longer work, the stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of for forever but never got around to, etc.

Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton offers tips on getting rid of stuff.

Start with obvious trash and items you just placed around the house saying “I will put it here for now!” Secondly, go around and get all of the donation items. When was the last time you used the bread maker?

Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton, CPO®, CPO-CD® | Organizing Maniacs

Energized by your success, consider resetting your timer and going over the room again to weed out the less obvious clutter.

A woman working to get rid of stuff.

Image source: Ami Magazine

Clutter-Free Cheat Codes

Up your getting rid of stuff game with these bonus tips!

Use the Buddy System

Getting rid of stuff shouldn’t be a game of solitaire. Recruit helpers, whether family or friends, to serve as a voice of reason and an extra set of hands as you sort the wheat from the chaff.

Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton offers tips on getting rid of stuff.Ask a friend to be your buddy. Whenever you get stuck there is someone there to help you talk through the situation. Worst case scenario, talk to yourself! We are all verbal processors, and talking it out aloud can help with making decisions.

Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton, CPO®, CPO-CD® | Organizing Maniacs

Break Up Sets

Be a rebel. You don’t need to keep all the pieces of a set if you don’t like or use them all, because you aren’t constrained by the rules of society, man.

Melanie Dennis offers tips on getting rid of stuff.You are under no obligation to keep anything that came as a set if you don’t like or use all the parts. Example: The coffee cups that came with your set of dishes are too small. Donate them. Example: The jacket that came with a suit looks great but the slacks are too tight. Donate the slacks and wear the jacket with another separate.

Melanie Dennis, CPO® | Neat Streak

Prearrange Junk Removal

Getting started on your clutter-free journey is easier when you have a clear destination. After all, a mound of junk setting around indefinitely because you have no plan for getting rid of it will leave your home just as cluttered as before.

Christina Hidek gives tips on how to get rid of stuff.Besides not wanting to make a decision about things, another reason people hang on to stuff is because they know it can be used by someone or recycled, but they don’t know the specifics, so the stuff just sits in their home and becomes clutter.

Christina Hidek | Streamlined Living

Get ahead of the game by deciding ahead of time whether you’ll be bagging up the trash yourself (ideal for very light decluttering) or if you should arrange a dumpster rental for junk removal (your best bet for a serious cleanout). If you feel you’ll end up with a lot of donation-worthy items, identify a charity or two you’ll gift them to and contact them beforehand to arrange a drop-off or pickup.

Now go forth. Get in the game. And Get Rid of Stuff.