5 Little Decluttering Tips You Need to Master This Year

published Jan 4, 2022
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

The idea of living a simple life with an organized home sounds super appealing — it’s just getting there that can be a challenge! We know it’s totally overwhelming just to find the time to declutter (and then there’s the whole willpower part … ). That’s why we’re always on the hunt for tips and tricks to make the job feel a lot easier.

So when we recently stumbled on a YouTube video featuring a smart tip for decluttering from savvy professional organizing expert and blogger Jessica Litman of The Organized Mama, we were instantly intrigued!

Litman, a mom of two, is all about maintaining order and living as clutter-free as she can. In her video, she suggests creating a declutter caddy — much like a cleaning caddy with sponges and sprays all in one container, but focused entirely on all of the tools you need to organize endless clutter.

When you create a declutter caddy, you’ll have all of the items you need to declutter right at your fingertips — ready to go. “I have a declutter caddy in my home that I use for every organizing project I work on,” she explains. “Whether it’s just a quick cleanup of the kids’ toys or a total overhaul of our closet, I use that caddy to help keep me on track.”

Credit: Sarah Crowley
Ta da! Our version of a declutter caddy — with Jessica Litman's advice.

Armed with your own declutter caddy, Litman says you can avoid getting distracted — which is half the battle when it comes to undertaking a home organizing project. By making a declutter caddy, you’ll make the job go faster because you’ll have all of the necessary supplies ready, she explains. “You can spend more time focusing on what you want to declutter instead of searching for all those supplies.”

We caught up with Litman to talk to her about what exactly goes into a declutter caddy, and she shared a few of her best decluttering tips.

1. Stock your caddy.

While everyone’s declutter caddy will look a little different, she suggests including both garbage and paper bags. “I like using the two different bags so that one bag is actual garbage,” Litman says. “And the paper bags can be used for donation items. This way you won’t get them mixed up and donate garbage or vice versa.” She also includes cleaning supplies, a roll of shelf liner, a stack of Post-it Notes, a trusty label maker, and pens. “If you aren’t sure if you would use a declutter caddy, try rounding up items you may need before a declutter session,” Litman says. “Then, get started. And you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to declutter when you have all the items on hand.”

2. Map out your storage space before putting things away.

Post-it Notes and pens are pretty important as you declutter and categorize piles. Litman uses Post-its to mark what will go where on shelves, cabinets, and drawers, so that she can map out where everything is going before she puts away all of the items she plans to keep. Once she’s figured out designated spots, that’s where the label maker comes in to permanently label shelves, drawers, and baskets!

3. Ask yourself a set of specific questions.

To help make the most of your time, Litman uses a set of decluttering questions as a guide. For example, “Do you want to handle this item again?” or “Are you keeping this item out of guilt?” Write a few meaningful questions down beforehand and stick them in your caddy to make the decision process a little faster.

4. Set a timer.

A timer or stopwatch is also useful while decluttering. “Then, you can keep yourself to the time limit you set,” Litman explains. If you are easily distracted, a timer can help you stay focused on the task at hand. Knowing you only have to do this for 10 minutes is good motivation to keep going!

5. Put an item in a time out, if you are unsure what to do with it.

If you absolutely cannot decide what to do with an item as you declutter, Litman has a smart suggestion to help you avoid spending endless minutes pondering what to do. “If you aren’t sure if you’ll use an item, put it in a bin in your storage room or garage. Set a reminder on your phone for one month from that date. During that month, if you need it, then you know where it is,” she says. “If you don’t need it by the time the timer rings, then you can be confident you can part with it!”