What to Declutter First: 8 Things to Start With as a Beginner

Angela | Arrow
by Angela | Arrow

Today, I will give you tips on what to declutter first to jumpstart your move into minimalism. If you are just starting out on your journey towards a minimalist lifestyle you may be a bit overwhelmed thinking about everything you need to sort through. Sometimes we get stuck in those first steps.

We get concerned we might declutter something that we will regret later. I have some foolproof ways you can start decluttering and make good decisions early on in your process. This will give you the confidence to make those more difficult decisions later on.

1. Declutter anything that is broken

You might be surprised by how many broken items you have in your home. Try out all those markers and pens. Get rid of any broken items you don't have immediate plans to fix.

If you have something you were planning on fixing, I challenge you to set a deadline for yourself to fix that item. If you don't meet that deadline, it probably means that the item doesn't hold the value for you that it used to.

2. Declutter any gifts that you do not like

This category can be a bit sensitive because if someone took the time to give us this gift, we feel it must be something that's important to hold on to.

Over the years, I have learned that if someone’s love language is gift-giving, the act of them giving the gift was the purpose.

Decluttering unused gifts

This step can be especially tricky if we’re talking about gifts from someone who is no longer with us, but the memory of that person isn't in the gift they gave you. It is in your heart, your soul, and your mind.

These items were given to you and are now your possessions, so you can choose to do with them what you wish.

3. Get rid of ‘fantasy self’ items

‘Fantasy self’ items are things you purchased with the mindset that you were going to do this thing or be this type of person, but you never lived up to the standard that you had set for yourself. These unused items are a reminder that you didn’t meet your goals and can lead to feelings of guilt that you didn't accomplish what you set out to do.

Often ‘fantasy self’ items are still in great condition because they weren't being used. Sell or consign these things to make back some of the money that you put into them. Then put that money into something you’re truly invested in right now.

That can lead to a boost in morale towards your new interest. It’ll also make you feel good that the items you sold are now going to be put to use by whoever bought them.

Decluttering a medicine cabinet

4. Get rid of any expired items in your fridge, pantry, and medicine cabinet

There’s no reason to keep expired items, yet it’s easy to neglect getting rid of things that are hiding away in your fridge and cabinets. Your medicine cabinet is also likely filled with expired medications and ointments. Even beauty products have expiration dates, so you'll probably find some things to throw out in that category as well.

5. Get rid of anything that brings up bad memories

This refers to something like an article of clothing you were wearing when you got some bad news or something tragic happened. Maybe it’s a box of letters from someone you used to be close to and you've since had a falling out.

There’s no reason to keep things that stir up negative emotions. If you have items like this lying around your house, letting go of them will be very freeing.

6. Get rid of kids' toys, clothes, and books they no longer use

Kids know instinctively which things are their favorites. They’ll constantly play with the same toy or category of toys. They pick out the same outfits again and again.

By removing the items they don’t use, you’re making it easier for them to make decisions. There are things you purchased for them that you thought they would like, but they just were not interested.

The amount of clutter that comes into our homes when we have children can be overwhelming. Whether it be by our own hand or as gifts, find those favorites and just get rid of the excess. This step will make a major impact on decluttering your home.

What to declutter first

7. Get rid of anything you label as ‘just in case’

We hold on to things that could be useful in the future even if we don't have a specific plan for them. If you are starting out on your minimalism journey, make set plans for those ‘just in case’ items.

Either execute that plan and use them right away, or toss them. Whether you realize it or not, all these just-in-case items are taking up a lot of your mental energy and space in your home.

8. Get rid of everything that you keep in storage

Most of the time things that are kept in storage are not actually needed in your life. I would encourage you to get rid of those boxes straight away without even going through them.

That might be hard for most people, but if there are items you didn’t even know were in there, how much value could those things hold for you? You should be able to find a lot of things to declutter fairly easily in your storage.

What to declutter first

I hope this article helps you to jumpstart your decluttering process. If you are starting out feeling overwhelmed by all the decisions you need to make, pick a category from this list and just get to work on making those quick decisions.

Every decision you make is going to help you become more confident. Eventually, you'll be able to tackle those more difficult items such as sentimental things, and make confident decisions there as well.

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 1 comment
  • Martha Burger Martha Burger on Oct 24, 2022

    I can't make much headway on my decluttering projects. One thing that has stuck with me I heard or read in some blog or talk, that you use 20% of your things 80% of the time. I find it true and helps me get rid of excess, in all areas, I definitely gravitate to using the same "favorite" items whether it's office supplies (pens), wine glasses, or socks!