Where to Start with Decluttering

You’ve decided you REALLY need to declutter your home, but where do you start? If every room has way too much stuff and every area is a problem, it can be easy to become paralyzed and not even begin. I’ve been there!

Don’t give up! Small wins add up to big changes over time!

Where to Start with Decluttering

Keep Your Goals in Mind

Get really clear on WHY you want to declutter.

Do you want your home to be easier to clean? Do you want to be able to find things quickly? Does the visual clutter make you feel overwhelmed? Do you need to be better organized? Do you just want to breathe easier? Do you want to stop spending so much time taking care of your stuff?

For me, it’s all of the above.

I want to live a slower, simpler life and decluttering is ONE WAY to slow down. It’s a tool that can help us on our journey to simple living.

Having too much stuff stresses me out and then I’m spending mental and physical energy dealing with it. That’s pretty much the opposite of how I want to live.

Since letting go of so much, I can be more present. I don’t want to have nothing in my home, or reach some arbitrary number of things. I want to have just the right amount of things for me and my family. I’m working on letting go of the excess and truly valuing the things that we do keep. Things that are important, useful and/or beautiful.

Decluttering can take a lot of muscle, so when it feels hard, return to your WHY and remember your overall goal for your home and life.

Start Decluttering with a Small Area

It’s helpful to build your decluttering muscles by starting with a small area.

Small places to start decluttering include:

  • handbag
  • wallet
  • car interior
  • car trunk
  • glove compartment
  • utensil drawer
  • junk drawer
  • medicine cabinet
  • nightstand
  • fridge
  • freezer
  • tupperware drawer
  • desktop (see mine here)
  • desk drawer
  • email
  • photos on phone
  • bathroom vanity

Once you tackle a few small areas and see the progress, you’ll feel more confident to move onto bigger areas and projects.

Our Place Knife Trio | Steak Knives | Knife Organizer

Set a Timer for 15 minutes

When you give yourself a specific start and stop time, you reduce the overwhelm. I encourage you to stick with the time limit you set for yourself so you don’t get burned out. But, if you’re on a roll and want to keep going, by all means, continue.

I like this minimal digital timer for these short tasks.

Trash, Donate, Sell, Keep, Relocate

It’s helpful to have 1 black trash bag (for trash) and three bins clearly labeled “Donate” “Sell” “Relocate” while you are decluttering.

Consider which category each item belongs to.

TRASH : Clearly visible trash is easy. It just gets tossed into the black trash bag – black so you don’t see it anymore and reconsider.

If it’s a “keep” but doesn’t belong in that spot, put it in the Relocate bin.

If it’s a sell or donate, put it in the appropriate bin.

DONATE : If you put something in the donate bin, get it out of your house ASAP!

SELL : I typically donate way more than I’ve ever sold. For me, the hassle of listing and dealing with people’s comments and questions, keeping them all straight, coordinating schedules and all that is more hassle than it’s worth. But, you might decide, if I can get $X for this, it’s worth listing.

But, make sure you actually list and don’t just delay the decluttering process further. Give yourself a timeline to list the items and if it hasn’t sold in X days, let it go.

RELOCATE : Ideally, every item in your house should have a home. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to create one. I’ve heard it recommended, “put things where you’d look for them first.”

Questions to Help You Declutter

If you aren’t sure about whether to declutter in item, having a list of questions to ask yourself can help you make a decision.

  • Do I Use It?
    • Have I used this item in the past year?
    • Will I use it in the foreseeable future?
  • Do I Need It?
    • Is this item essential for my daily life?
    • Can I easily replace/borrow it if needed?
    • Do I have duplicates of this item that I can do without?
  • Do I Love It?
    • Does this item bring me joy or add value to my life?
    • Would I choose to buy it again if I didn’t already own it?
  • Is It in Good Condition?
    • Is the item broken, damaged, or worn out?
    • Can it be repaired or restored, and am I willing to do so?
    • Is it worth keeping if it requires maintenance or upkeep?
  • Does It Fit My Current Lifestyle?
    • Does this item align with my current interests, hobbies, or activities?
    • Does it fit my personal style and aesthetic preferences?
    • Have my circumstances or living situation changed since I acquired this item?
  • Do I Have Space for It?
    • Do I have adequate storage space for this item?
    • Will keeping it contribute to clutter and disorganization in my home?
  • Am I Keeping It Out of Guilt or Obligation?
    • Am I holding onto this item because it was a gift or has sentimental value?
    • Can I let go of it without feeling guilty or obligated to keep it?
    • Would someone else benefit from this item more than I do?
  • Does It Align with My Goals and Priorities?
    • Does this item support my goals, aspirations, or values?
    • Does it contribute to a clutter-free and organized living environment?
    • Will letting go of it help me focus on what truly matters to me?
  • How Often Do I Actually Use It?
    • When was the last time I used this item?
    • How frequently do I anticipate using it in the future?
    • Is it worth the space it occupies considering its usage frequency?

It always helps me to consider how much lighter I’ll feel once those things are gone, as opposed to the heaviness I’ll feel if I keep something I don’t really need.

And, if I keep in mind that someone else could actually use this thing I’m holding on to, but not using, it’s easier for me to let it go.

One of my biggest hangups with decluttering is the money I’ve spent on those things. I just have to remind myself that the money is already spent, and I’m not recouping it by keeping the thing. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but also helps keep me from purchasing things that I’ll likely just declutter in the future.

Declutter One Drawer with Me

Oh the power of a 15-minute declutter!! I decluttered this bathroom drawer that had been nagging at me on Friday in about 15 minutes.

It’s the middle drawer in my vanity.

Bathroom Tour


Decluttering Makeup Drawer

This is the drawer where I put lipstick and other beauty items that I don’t store in my top shallow vanity drawers.

Decluttering Process

I took everything out and wiped the drawer clean.

Here are all the items that were in the drawer.

Decluttering Makeup Drawer

I thought it might be helpful for you to hear my thoughts as I considered each item and decided whether to keep, toss, donate or relocate.

Decluttering Makeup Drawer

Tartelette Mascara – I love this tubing mascara and it’s all I’ve been wearing since I got it, easy KEEP.

Maneater Lip & Cheek Gloss – Really like this too, but I’m only using one shade and I realized I prefer to apply it with the doe applicator or my fingers as opposed to the brush. KEEP one & RELOCATE to my makeup drawer, DONATE the other color and brush to a friend.

Setting Spray – I like both of these, but the Urban Decay is really old, TRASH.

NARS blush – It separated and lost its color, TRASH.

Decluttering Makeup Drawer

Triangle Puffs – I use these, but don’t need that many. KEEP one.

Beauty Blender – I had two, KEEP one.

Blending Sponge – I was influenced to buy this from a beauty blogger, but I never use it because I prefer my brushes, TRASH.

Alastin Hydratint Sunscreen – This is a sunscreen with tint that goes on like a foundation and smoothes your skin. It’s empty and I’ll consider reordering, but not just yet. I’m working on using other things and I’m currently loving that Kiehl’s sunscreen. EMPTY, TRASH (will likely repurchase in the future).

Grande Lash Mascara & Clarins Mascara – I couldn’t bring myself to declutter, even though I’m just using the tubing mascara. These are “just in case” items, but I’ll give it 30 more days, and if I haven’t used them, I can toss. KEEP, then TOSS if I don’t use in the next 30 days.

Lash Curler – Use this every time I apply mascara, easy KEEP.

Foundation Brush – Use, KEEP.

Fluffy Brush – Use, KEEP.

Decluttering Makeup Drawer

Blotting Papers – Use, easy KEEP.

No Bend Hair Clip – Use, KEEP & RELOCATE to the drawer I store hair things.

Lumify – Use, but only occasionally. I’ll keep until it expires in July 2024.

Lipsticks – I tried on all of these and didn’t really care for several. The gloss was old. KEEP 4: MAC Pink Plaid, Snob, Fusion Pink & the Sephora one.

Decluttering Makeup Drawer

Chanel Chance – I rarely wear, but on special occasions. KEEP, RELOCATE to closet.

Phone Case & Gripper – Use occasionally, KEEP, RELOCATE to under bathroom sink organizer.


Decluttering Makeup Drawer

Wowza! That’s a lot of stuff to declutter! It was taking up a lot of space in my drawer.


Decluttering Makeup Drawer

So much better, right?

Decluttering Makeup Drawer

The more I’ve decluttered, the more I want to.

It can take many passes through a single area to REALLY get to the perfect amount of things for you. And I’ve found that decluttering doesn’t necessarily have an END point. Things have a way of coming into our house constantly, especially if you have kids or a partner. It’s a slow journey, but so worthwhile.

I hope this post was helpful! Are you inspired to start decluttering in your house? Where will you begin?

Let’s hear it in the comments!

You Might Also Like

Meet Megan

Hi! I’m Megan, mom to a thoughtful teenager and spunky young girl. We call Houston home and recently moved into our dream home. I traded my lawyer hat to become a full-time blogger in 2010. I love sharing my passion for affordable fashion, home decor, organization, & fitness to help inspire you to take care of you!


  1. I decluttered this weekend, spent time in the laundry room, bathrooms and closet (again). The before and after is so satisfying! The next hurdle is to keep them decluttered 🙂

  2. the makeup drawer is such a great place to start! we’ve all bought “the thing” that was going to be great, and then it wasn’t, but we paid $$ for it so we hang on to it, and then… we have a drawer like this. Such great advice to give ourselves a starting point to success! LOVE this series!

      1. Great tips to keep it stress free. I did an old school supplies drawer. On the flip side, during Covid, filled my car with clothes that were too small for hubby. After Covid he lost a ton of weight and could have used so many of those instead of buying new. Just gotta think someone benefited from the donation.

  3. Love this! I’ve been working on declutterring one drawer or small area since last week. It’s so nice to see space where previously there was none. I also set a timer for 15 minutes. I also did the keep, trash, sell or relocate. I do need to think a little harder on the items I keep. I tend to keep too many but it’s looking better. Thank you for helping me tackle this huge job.

  4. I have such a hard time letting go of things I paid for. I feel so bad that I paid good money for something and I need to give it a chance to sell. Then the selling processes is complicated, or I give it too long to sell…Ugh, so yes, I understand at some point I have to say it’s money already gone and donate the item. As far as the beauty blender you say you use it, so keep one, toss one…but why would you not keep it as the beauty blender that you’re currently using will wear out and need replaced? This is where I struggle; I’m a buy in bulk kinda gal because we will always needs it down the road.

    1. This is a hard one for me too Stacie. I’ve watched probably thousands of dollars walk out my door with decluttering. But the good news is, now I’m much more thoughtful with my purchases. That’s a good question on the beauty blender. I don’t use it all the time, I have a brush I also like for applying concealer, so one beauty blender can last me a very long time, I was wash it and reuse. It comes down to how much stuff I want to see in my drawer. In the moment I figured I’d rather buy one more down the road than keep two.

  5. I love that you’re writing about decluttering, and I also appreciate the struggle you have as a content creator who makes a living off of selling products. One of the things I truly admire about you is that you are honest about these “moral” issues and you don’t avoid these hard questions. With that attitude and approach you will find the right answer and we’ll all learn something in the process. Thank you.

    1. I really appreciate that and it was weighing very heavy on me last week. I started to stress about bills and paying for private school and all the expenses, but I’m going to keep moving forward and trust that it will work out.

  6. I started to declutter my house after your initial post earlier this year. This post has inspired me to tackle my jewelry. Thank you for sharing your journey on a simpler lifer

  7. I love the MAC Snob lipstick – it’s my daily go-to. Such a pretty color. I have a vanity drawer that definitely needs cleaning out – today’s the day!

  8. Thank you for explaining the process you used. It’s helpful to hear what you think as you declutter. Great post!

  9. I decluttered my stationery drawer in my desk this weekend! I’m getting ready to send out a couple mass mailings for graduation announcements and open house invites and I had to see what I had as far as return address stickers, stamps, notecards, etc. I got rid of so much crap I’d put in there and it felt so good to do it! Up next is the entryway/coat closet…it is a mess, yikes! Have a great week!

  10. Thank you for your detailed explanation for deciding what to keep and what not to. It’s very helpful to hear your thoughts. I appreciate you sharing your process and experience. Great post! I will be referring to this as I tackle my own decluttering.

  11. Great tips Megan! Had to laugh, your before looks like my afters! I fully agree with your point about $ spent. I get hung up on that as well as gifts from people I love. I heard a phrase a while back – “blessing not a burden” – it was in reference to something else but it helped me let go of gifts I don’t love. I remind myself that whoever gave it to me would want me to enjoy it, not be stressed by holding onto it out of guilt. If I don’t enjoy it, I let it go guilt free to keep it from being a burden. Especially if I can regift it to someone who will enjoy it!

    1. Hi Megan! I’ve been on this journey for several years, so I’m getting better and figuring out my “just enough”. I like the ‘blessing not a burden’ phrase. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *