3 Effective Decluttering Methods to Simplify Your Life

Liz | Balance + Rhythm
by Liz | Balance + Rhythm

Do you want to create a common, serene home free from visual and hidden clutter? If so, join me today to talk about three decluttering methods to get you there.

Over the years, I’ve gathered the best decluttering methods out there, and these three are, by far, my favorites.

Decluttering methods

A home that is free of clutter is key to designing a minimalist space. But many of us, myself included, have had limited decluttering success because we hadn’t come across minimalist tips for decluttering that actually work for us specifically.

So I researched three popular decluttering methods, all very different, to see which one might be best.

Ultimately, you'll need to decide which one is the best for you.

The KonMari Method

The KonMari Method

The first method is the KonMari Method by Marie Kondo. Both her first book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and then the follow-up, Spark Joy, have sold many millions of copies and for good reason. 

This method is part decluttering and part organization, a process she refers to as tidying.

I always thought tidying was just picking up a little and making sure things look presentable, but her process goes deep. 

Here are the six steps she shares: 

The KonMari Method

1. Commit 

Number one is to commit to the entire process. Tidying takes time and effort, and it won't happen overnight, so it's important to commit and see the process through. 

2. Visualize

Number two is to visualize your ideal life. This is where a mood board could really come in handy.

Or, you could just find one picture that represents this ideal life in your new uncluttered space. 

The KonMari Method

3. Discard

The third step is to finish discarding before you start organizing.

This step involves thanking each item for its service to you and then either finding it a new home or discarding it. 

4. Tidy by kind

Step four is to tidy by kind, not by location. So this involves gathering all items of the same category in one space at one time and going through them all at once.

So, for instance, you would gather all your clothes throughout the whole house, put them in one space, and go through it all, deciding what to keep and what to discard. 

The KonMari Method

5. Tidy by level of ease

Step number five is to tidy from easy to hard.

Marie Kondo says that the easiest category to start with is clothing. So you would start with clothing first, then you would move on to books, then to papers, and then to komono, which is a large category of miscellaneous items.

And then the final one would be the most difficult, which is sentimental items. 

6. Keep

The sixth step is to only keep things that spark joy. These don't have to be things that you're necessarily in love with, but they could just be something that's useful to you or that makes your life easier or more enjoyable. 

Pros of the KonMari Method

The pros of the KonMari method is that it's really thorough, and there's a lot of help in the form of books which get deep into the decluttering methods for each type of item, and then also on organizing those items once you get them decluttered. 

Cons of the KonMari Method

A possible con of this method is that it could create upheaval around your home from pulling items from different locations. And it is a bit of a learning curve because it's pretty involved. 

The Four Box Method

The Four Box Method

Our next decluttering method is the Four Box Method.

This method involves, you guessed it, four boxes. One labeled throwaway, one labeled keep, another for items that are going to be taken outside the home in some way, but not thrown away, meaning donated, sold, or given away. And then the fourth box.

For our purposes, I'm going to say it's the undecided box. I've seen it labeled relocate or put away, and those are actually items that are really key. 

Pros of the Four Box Method

The pros of this method are that it's flexible and that you could go space by space, and then you also have the undecided box.

So, if you're stuck on an item, it won't hold up the process. You can just put it in the undecided box and come back to it later. 

Cons of the Four Box Method

A possible con is that too many items can accumulate in the undecided box, making the process take even longer. It's also important to take action on items that will be donated, sold, or given away pretty quickly, so that it doesn't become another source of clutter.

And that goes for all of the decluttering methods!

The Swedish Death Cleaning Method

The Swedish Death Cleaning Method

Another decluttering method that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years is Swedish Death Cleaning, popularized by the book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margaretta Magnuson. 

This method is for those who are not only wanting a lighter life for themselves, but also don't want to burden their loved ones with items they may not want.

It's a slower approach and starts with items that might be in storage or easy items like clothing. And like the KonMari method, it leaves the more difficult items, like sentimental items for last. 

Pros of the Swedish Death Cleaning Method

The fact that it's a slower process could be a pro if you like a more relaxed approach.

Cons of the Swedish Death Cleaning Method

The more relaxed approach could also be a con if you want to clear your space to make way for a more minimal lifestyle or a new minimal design. 

Best decluttering method

I have to say that after researching these decluttering methods, I'm most drawn to the KonMari method because of the level of detail it gives on decluttering, guidance and organization.

As challenging as it may seem, I think it's going to give me the best results in the long run.

Share your own thoughts on these three decluttering methods down below!

Join the conversation