Declutter Your Space

Quit holding on to, and forcing yourself to live in, old junk.

*Creative License Disclaimer. Declutter is too a word.

Think about this: In eighty years, you’ll be pushing 105 years of age. This proposition is not that unbelievable. Think of all the scientific advances that now exist and continue to be discovered. But you know, 105 is hella’ old. You will die eventually and your grandkids are going to inherit boxes and boxes of your stuff. For their sake, you really need to start decluttering. Now.

I know. It’s a pain in the ass.

Tossing stuff isn’t really all that fun, despite what our moms think. Looking at all you’ve accumulated, realizing you don’t want or need it anymore and tossing it into a trash bag is challenging. But it must be done! One day, you’ll buy a house and thank me when it’s time to pack up and prepare for that move.

Personally, I find it hard to set a time to clean. Motivation has to strike out of nowhere. But when it strikes, carpe … clean ‘em?

Step 1: Prepare

You will need:

  1. Trash bags (for junk tossing!)
  2. A wet rag (for dusting!)
  3. Awesome music (for rocking!)
  4. A tasty beverage (for thirst quenching!)

If your place is really dusty or you’re allergy prone, wear one of those painter masks that can be purchased at your local hardware store.

Step 2: Begin Decluttering

You don’t have to be a hero. Don’t fool yourself. There’s no way you’re going to declutter your entire basement in one afternoon. Select an area of your room, office, closet or basement and tackle that specific space. In a month or six when you’re feeling motivated to clean again, choose another area.

You have to move fast when you’re tossing old stuff. If you dilly-dally, you’ll become nostalgic and you’ll find a reason to hold onto that paper you wrote in the 8th grade. So look at your junk (not that junk, dude), ask yourself whether you really need it—like really need it—and then toss it. If you can’t decide, toss it in an Undecided Pile. If your split instinct is that you don’t need it, rip that shit into a billion pieces and eat it. Otherwise you’ll find yourself doing some late night Dumpster Diving.

Let’s say you’re organizing your bookshelves. Do you need that book? No? Toss (aka donate to a local school or library). Do you need that old magazine? Duh, Jennifer Aniston is on the cover. Keep. Do you need the box of the wireless router you bought six months ago? Toss!!

Books on a shelf

(This photo was totally not staged for the sake of this article)

Dust as you go, otherwise you’ll be too tired in the end and you’ll skip this critical part of cleanup. Who knows when you’ll get around to this space again?

Your grandkids don’t need to inherit a box of cell phone chargers. Plus, in eighty years, cell phones will be built into our skin and will stay perpetually charged from our heartbeat. The future is going to be awesome.

Tangled wires

Throw out those chargers, high school papers, three-dozen pen caps, empty box of staples; three metro passes with 32 cents on them, and that coupon for toothpaste that expired six years ago, and the Valentine’s Day cards from 2nd grade, even though the one you loved got away …

Homemade cards from childhood

(It’s not too late, Jenn!)

Step 3: Actually Toss

Remember, if you dwell on items, you’ll come up with a reason for holding onto your junk. You don’t need it. Seriously. You don’t. See that trash bag? Toss it right now!

Drive to the other side of town and give a homeless guy five bucks to drop it in any random Dumpster. That way, you’ll never find your old treasured junk.

Okay, congratulations. You’re done. But just because you cleared out a space doesn’t mean you need to fill it with other shit. It’s okay to embrace less is more. Don’t run out and buy a bunch of crap to fill up the three empty shelves on your bookshelf. Instead, rearrange your bookshelves, using the empty shelves to showcase your collection of rare cereal boxes. Really? Google Count Dracula Star of David. General Mills done goofed.

Step 4: Organize

Now that you’ve decluttered and dusted, it’s time to organize. You used to toss your keys, cell phone, and Hlaska card case on the table in your foyer (you know, that area around your front door). It looked messy. Grab yourself a nice leather catch-all like this valet. Have a place for everything.

Are your magazines piled on top of books? Yeah, they are. Put magazine collections in holders, racks, or boxes. Your bookshelf will look a helluva’ lot more organized.

If you have a place for everything, not only will you be less inclined to misplace things, but it’ll also help you keep your place clean. I tend to toss my mail on the coffee table. Doesn’t look particularly nice. If anyone wants to buy me a leather mail organizer, I’d keep that next to my catch-all. No? Fine. Your loss, I would have sent you an awesome thank you card.

Step 5: There is no Step 5

You’re done.

You’ve decluttered, cleaned as you worked, and had an awesome playlist to distract you from the fact that you actually spent the last two hours cleaning.

Because, you know, cleaning sucks.

Kenneth Suna

Kenneth Suna is a writer and self-employed stock trader who lives in Washington, D.C. His novel, Roman, was recently published. He is the founder of, an online magazine which features human interest stories and social commentary. Follow him @KennethSuna