How to Get Rid of Stuff

Do you need to buy a bigger place or do you simply need more storage space? Whether it’s time to move or simply time to condense your belongings, it can be hard to get rid of the junk, the stuff, and the things that were once saved and are now clutter. How do you get rid of stuff? Check out our recommended method to declutter your home.

How do I get rid of things? Quick Tips on Decluttering and Getting Rid of Junk

Scroll down for more detailed explanations.

Before You Get Rid of Anything

  1. Acknowledge you are not defined by what you own.
  2. Stop buying now.
  3. Take before and after photos.
  4. Find a friend to hold you accountable.
  5. Create a motivating music playlist.
  6. Treat sentimental items with extra care.

Time to Declutter and Get Rid of Stuff

  1. Start in one spot.
  2. Get rid of duplicates.
  3. Use the timed approach. Sort, clear your head, and commit.
  4. Use the counting approach.
  5. Interview yourself.

The Guide to Getting Rid of Things

Why get rid of stuff? Stuff is costly to store, move, and keep clean. Some stuff is junk – worthy of the garbage. Some stuff is sentimental – memories worth keeping. A lifetime of getting, buying, finding, and saving has led you to this point, but how do you decide what’s trash and what’s treasure?

Before you start getting rid of things, you need to prepare for success.

Like everything else, preparation is key to a successful decluttering mission.

1. Acknowledge that you are not the stuff you keep.

You are not defined by your stuff – how much, how sentimental, how expensive. You are not defined by the space where you live or the things you own. You are a person with a lifetime of memories, experiences, emotions, and values.

Repeat after me: I am not defined by what I own. My stuff does not own me. I own my stuff.

2. Stop buying now.

It’s a great deal! It’s buy-one-get-one! I don’t need it now, but just in case…

Stop buying because something is on sale or because you might need it someday. Those sales are designed to make you NEED to buy, which is one reason there’s so much around to declutter.

Caution: Walk away from the clearance section.

3. Take before and after photos.

Before you get rid of any junk, take before pictures. Once the junk is gone, you’ll look back and smile at how much nicer it is to live with floor space and available tabletops. It’s motivating!

Note: Your before pics don’t have to be shared with anyone.

4. Find a friend to hold you accountable.

You have a friend who feels the same way, so recruit them!  Ask your friend over and show them an area that needs decluttering. When the stuff isn’t yours, it’s easier to tell what’s junk and what’s not. Someday you’ll return the favor!

Bonus: Leave your friend alone for 30 minutes to create a junk pile for you to find. It’s easy to find junk at a friend’s house (rather than your own), easier still if your friend isn’t watching you do it.

5. Create a motivating music playlist.

A motivating, upbeat playlist gets you prepped for the purging process. The music helps you focus. Stay positive and you’ll be able to make tough choices without feeling defeated.

Suggestion: When I declutter, I listen to energetic and inspiring superhero movie scores by composers John Williams and Michael Giacchino.

6. Treat sentimental items with extra care.

Getting rid of stuff doesn’t mean getting rid of everything. Some stuff is treasure. Treat your sentimental things with care (cleaning, displaying or storing them properly).

Remember: If you aren’t motivated to treat your treasure well, it likely isn’t treasure after all.

Time to Start Getting Rid of Things!

Now that you’ve prepared to declutter, it’s time to get moving.

1. Start in ONE SPOT.

Don’t let the entire junk pile overwhelm you– it will if you let it! Set your mind to clearing off one drawer or one shelf. Everything with value has a place to be. If it has no assigned spot, it’s probably junk.

Limit the scope to help ease the decision process.

2. Get rid of duplicates.

This is a great way to get started. How many decorative blankets or kitchen towels do you need? How many pens and art supplies are sitting in bins purposeless? How many tee-shirts are taking up space?

Donate the extra items so your decluttering effort is not wasted.

3. Use the timer approach. Sort, clear your mind, and commit.

Put 20 minutes on the clock. Begin sorting stuff into piles labeled KEEP, FIX, DONATE, SELL, and TRASH. When time’s up, take a short break to clear your mind. Return later, make adjustments if needed, and then commit.

You might find that once you get started, you can go on for a lot longer. That’s great!  Don’t do so much at once that you have trouble getting back into it. Stamina is everything. Getting rid of stuff is a marathon, not a sprint.

4. Use the counting approach.

Choose 5 things from each room. This simple way to get started limits the decision-making process and the pressure.

If you’re concerned about stuff going to waste, choose 5 things to donate. It’s easier to part with clutter when you know it’s going to good use.

5. Interview yourself.

Ask yourself questions out loud.  Why do I have this? Do I love it? How often do I use it? How much will I miss it?

Remove potential from the equation. Potential usefulness or potential value is useless and valueless now. Most useful things can be replaced. Most valuable things won’t make it to this stage of decluttering.

Even if it was a gift, a good deal, or a happy memory, it does not need to stick around.

Putting it all Together

Using these tips, you can declutter as you prepare to move or make more space.

Here are some real-life examples.

There are piles of stuff everywhere, where do I start? Start in one corner of the room, work for 20 minutes sorting into piles, then reward yourself with a break.

  • I don’t think I can do this, there’s too much. Everyone gets junk overload. Call a friend and ask for help.
  • I got this soft gray blanket for my birthday. I got this soft gray blanket on sale. Keep one, donate one.
  • This kitchen gadget chops vegetables, but I hardly use it. It has potential, but it’s junk.
  • I won this stuffed elephant at the summer festival. Take a picture and donate it.
  • I’m saving this shirt for when it fits. Don’t hang on to generic someday clothing.
  • My aunt gave it to me from her collection of keepsakes. Does it have sentimental or monetary value, or is it simply taking up space?

Looking for a bigger place?

Sometimes, even after you’ve gotten rid of all the stuff you need to, you still need more space.

To find a bigger home for all your stuff in the New York Metro area, please visit to search our listings, or find a Realtor® to assist you in our Realtor Directory.