Im on an anti-clutter crusade.

not clutter. TREASURE.

People, Ive kept a secret from you.

From the moment I learned of the move I knew I needed to de-clutter before I could even ponder the packing (<—that’s no secret.  a mere visit to our home made that fact evident).

My secret is I’ve been on my own, personal 30 day de-cluttering challenge crusade since 11.10.12.**

My other secret—and the one which prompted me to need to do the challenge crusade—-is I’m a hoarder.

Not so much the TLC-show brand of hoarder (I dont own that much stuff), I just cling to items with sentimental value long after they should have been passed to others who’d actually use them.

Things like:

ahhh sweet sweet arm memories.


  • Cowboy hats in every shape, size & color imaginable not worn frequently as of late, but all procured during special moments in my Texas life.

packed up?! <—FORESHADOWING!

You get the idea. 

Various items I love, rarely use, and which have, for the most part, found better homes these last thirty days.

Ive also spent the past month creating visual masterpieces:

Even I cannot believe this is my closet.

And, because all things are possible through positive self-deception, Im choosing to believe the Bay Area Misfit will continue to live this way.

How will this happen?

Im printing and taping up my SIX TIPS TO HOME DECLUTTERING as soon as we move in.

  • Pick a place to start. This sounds too simple to be true, but with hindsight I CLEARLY see how my clutter wasnt a result of not attempting to organize–I flitted from room to room and never finished.  This time I chose an area & focused on staying in there until it was as finished as it was going to get.  Then I moved on.
  • Enlist help.  Life is about asking for precisely what you needFriends eagerly lent a hand when promised they could keep what I was giving away (<—-huge benefit of being a blogger who does reviews).  The Tornado agreed to lend a (sticky) hand when told she had free reign over the music we cleaned by (Bieber).  Extra tip: Keep a watchful eye on exuberant young helpers.  The Tornado almost tossed–in glee–items I’d wanted to save.
  • Designate a spot for ALL papers.  Mail, letters, bills, cards from friends— everything.  We no longer get a ton of this (thank you online bill pay!) yet I plop papers wherever I am when finished with them.  Even if this create actual CLUTTER it did create a lot of visual clutter which increased my stress level.  Bay Area me will have one of these hanging on my office door and each paper shall be filed immediately.
  • Pick up 10 things & find them permanent homes.  l have items I use daily and, because of this, they dont have places I put them AWAY from display.  The toaster, steamer, blender, cutting boards, for example, all sit out all the time.  It amazed me how much less cluttered my kitchen seemed when I put these items AWAY & didnt let em loll on the counter.  From DVDs to dolls finding homes for items typically left out greatly diminishes clutter.

the ever present blender.

  • Teach the rest of the household where things belong.  I almost typed the word children on this tip but recalled Ren Man frequently saying: Id put this away but Ive no clue were it goes. Once partners, spouses, roommates & kids know where things belong youre well on your way to a clutter-free home without having to do any all the work yourself.
  • Create an Im not sure yet box. Dont go crazy & giveaway things you may really wish to keep.  Dont listen to the ‘if you havent worn it in a year give it away!” adage if something has sentimental value (you may now refer to me as hats mcgee. the ziplock is coming) Dont donate books if you may wanna reread them.  Dont trash cards youve received/children’s drawings/whatevers if youre not 100% sure.  Save these items in one place & revisit them months down the de-cluttered road.  Then decide.

my IM NOT SURE YET trunk.


Kicks it old school with a QOTD after this LONGASSPOST which, for her, was also fraught with AH HAs!

QOTD: when was the last time you did a hard core de-cluttering? did you find it as uber-cathartic as I did?




**I know. Ive undertaken something & not felt compelled to share repeatedly on all my social media channels. There may be offline living hope for me yet.


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  1. says

    I declutter every three to four months, and we ALWAYS have a tote set aside somewhere in the house of items that are on their way to charity or a yard sale. I used to collect everything, but having to deal with hurricane evacuations, frequent moves, and small apartments has taught me that holding on to things that I don’t use is a sap on my space AND my energy.

    I do, however, have a small photo box (about the size of a shoe box, that is my denoted Memory Box. In it are little mementos from different stages in my life: tickets from Cirque du Soleil, a library card from Buffalo, a metro pass from NYC, some favorite (unused) postcards from places I’ve been, a duck whistle from the duck races at the fair, kazoos from the ORIGINAL kazoo factory in Eden, NY, and other little odds and ends. I seldom, if ever, take items out of there, except to look at and put back… except for my National Park Passport, which I’ll take out (when I remember) to have stamped during my travels.

    • MizFit says

      I think it’s bigger than Id planned (ok I know) but Im totalllly gifting myself the size so I have no regrets later :-)

  2. Tammi says

    I greatly diminished my clutter when I designated places for all paper and only touched things once and then tossed or saved.

  3. says

    Love this list. I LOVE to declutter. My husband, not so much. It’s a tough balancing act but I may just have to put this list in front of him!

  4. says

    I have actually been doing this for the last 2 months. I’m a slow worker. I think that my problem is your number 1 tip. I need to focus on one thing at a time. I have a tendency to flit around for sure.

  5. Greta says

    I was clutterfree until kids, too.
    You make some good points. I don’t think my boys even know where half the stuff goes!

    • MizFit says

      Yeah. I didnt “get” my friends who lamented the clutter until our daughter.
      Now I get.
      Now I get.
      And I only have one!!

  6. says

    ALWAYS feels good to throw out the unnecessary. I only have a few random spots in my home that are in need of declutter…but I really need to declutter them- its bad.

  7. says

    Being a “messy” by nature, and working with messies, i can tell you that you’ve done what everyone should — found the way that worked best for you, and shared it.

    You picked an excellent time to do this, by the way. One big suggestion is to never move clutter, it costs too much!

  8. Pat says

    I love the “I am not sure yet” box idea.
    I get cluttered and tend to throw everything out and regret it later.

  9. says

    I declutter every few months…normally on a long weekend or my vacations from work. And guess what I am doing for part of today?? Decluttering this messy condo! :)
    Getting rid of clutter makes my soul happy!

  10. says

    I HATE clutter. IMO the major compromise of my marriage (now 25 years) has been over this issue, since I am married to a man who IMO is a major clutterer. Unfortunately, both our boys seem to be following in his footsteps, not mine:( I even hate clutter in non typical places. Like… I clean out my “sent” email folder periodically. Yep, I’m weird.

  11. Valerie says

    I don’t have a regular decluttering schedule, but I do it about three or four times a year, at least. When I pull out summer or winter clothing, I do closets; when we have our annual for-charity community yard sale, I do the whole house, and I do “paper decluttering” once a week and (on a larger scale) at tax-time. I also do individual rooms every few weeks on a completely random rotation. I love decluttering, organizing, throwing things out or giving them away…it’s almost cathartic for me. There’s probably a disorder of some sort involved…

  12. says

    I really need to be better about this! I’m a stacker, so when things come in, I stack them…then the stack gets so high it falls over and I then throw trash away and file the rest. It feels to good when I get it all cleaned up. I just wish I was better about throwing things out in the first place…

  13. says

    CARLA – ME TOO!!! THIS——-> I’m a hoarder. Not so much the TLC-show brand of hoarder (I dont own that much stuff), I just cling to items with sentimental value long after they should have been passed to others who’d actually use them

    That is HUGE for me!!! I decluttered a lot before sis came! I am still doing it & it feels good! I LOVE YOUR TIPS!! I NEED THEM!!!!!
    The paper thing – OMG – YES! I hardly could find my kitchen table before sis hit here! 😉

    GREAT POST Carla & THANK YOU!!!!

    PS: Good thing I have very little kitchen counter space! 😉

  14. says

    I definitely need to declutter! And, I’m so jealous you’re moving to the Bay Area! I grew up there and have lived there almost my entire 49 years but moved to NJ 2 years ago. Fun to be near NYC but I miss the Bay Area. We plan to go back in a few more years. Enjoy it!

  15. Sam says

    I have always loved the process of decluttering. I live by the saying, “cluttered desk/office/house, cluttered mind”

  16. says

    I de-cluttered when I moved back home after graduating from college because I was already moving back in, so it was the perfect time to first de-clutter the junk (I’m a hoarder too) out of my room to make room for stuff coming in. Alas, that was 1.5 years ago and already I could use another declutter.

  17. says

    Oh I need to declutter so bad! I am a hoarder too…but just a slight one. Definitely not the TLC kind lol! But I think I have to keep every one of my kids’ papers from school or keep this shirt even though I’ve only worn it once or twice type of thing. I really need to declutter because I love it when my house feels neat and tidy!

  18. Jenn Peas and Crayons says

    Ahhh I love love love this! I need to find a home for my papers for sure and have a joy yet trunk too’!!!!!

  19. says

    These are great tips! I’m due with twins who are set to come in about 10 weeks and I am trying to organize our house and get rid of stuff we just don’t use!!

  20. says

    Last year I read the book ‘The Happiness Project’. One of the very first chapters was about creating happiness via de-cluttering. I was a bit skeptical at first, but man, she is SOOOO bang on!

    I tackled closets this fall. One a day. And created bags of lightly used clothing for the women’s shelter and local hospice. Double happiness!

    P.S. You may not have announced your de-cluttering activities loudly, but you did give lots of clues 😉

  21. says

    Ah! I so needed this! With another baby on the way, and a future move, we definitely need to declutter. my problem? I declutter and keep everything in the garage with the intent of having a yardsale and…that yardsale still hasn’t happened haha!

  22. says

    It’s been a while since a hardcore declutter but lately we have been taking boxes to our friend’s thrift store and moving things out slowly. I can’t believe we have over 3 FULL sets of dishes. They are in the box for the next donation.

    I wish I could find some time to go through more. Business duty calls first. BUT I am so ready to move it all out. Already told mom, who keeps everything that I do not want anything from my school days so to get rid of it now.

    Always feels great to get rid of STUFF!

  23. Mavis says

    I am such a control freak. I do everything and you have me reconsidering if my husband and girls are not fibbing when they hand me stuff and say they do not know where it goes.

  24. says

    I’m almost always working on clutter of some sort, be it physical or mental. :)

    How embarrassed am I that I have a “not sure yet” ROOM? Perhaps if I were more decisive, I wouldn’t have so much stuff. LOL

  25. says

    I’m so very guilty of not making my family help me clean, and thus, no one know where anything GOES. Thank you for showing me how this has lent itself to my own stress. (Watch out kiddos – mommy’s gonna make you help clean the house!).

  26. says

    Love the yellow bars!

    You can imagine how much DEclutterin I did when we moved from a huge house and yard to a 34 foot sailboat 10 years ago! Haha… I am a DEclutter extraordinaire!

    But don’t be too ruthless; you may have regrets!

    My motto – it’ just stuff!

  27. says

    Great tips, Carla!!

    I have to do this every so often too, as I tend to keep things for that one time in five years when I may use them, lol!

  28. says

    The hardest part is definitely getting started so your tip about deciding where to start is the best one. Its daunting thinking about everything that has to be done, especially when you’re moving and thinking about giving/throwing things away. But once you get going, its a lot easier to keep the momentum, and in my experience I usually actually start enjoying it when I’m listening to good music and actually seeing progress.

  29. MizFit says

    AMEN. Once I told myself OK IT’S OFFICE DAY. NO WHERE ELSE BUT HERE TILL YOU BE DONE. everything finally took off.

  30. says

    I need this badly. Being that we have a few rooms in our house that we use rarely, they become places to shove junk. However, I have big designs and actually a pretty well thought out plan how to fix this in 2013. :)

  31. MizFit says

    **scurries to make room in the boxes knowing she’d regret later if she passed along**

  32. says

    I’m like you and my hubby is a “throw everything away” type of person! I would keep every single solitary piece of artwork that Emma made if it wasn’t for him!! Like even the “I scribbled for 5 seconds and then I’m done” pieces!!

  33. says

    I find myself de-cluttering every season because I’m switching clothes from storage and that get s me started…ugh, it never ends!

  34. says

    We’re in the middle of that right now. It is hard since we haven’t really hard core organized since before I went to grad school (almost 3 years ago…ahem), but we are determined to get shelves, containers and whatever is needed to find things. My husband is a lot like J – he’ll need something but not know where it is and then the mess it takes to find it generally makes it all worse. Makeshift cleaning involved gathering things (since they had no real home) and putting them in shoeboxes in my craft room…which just gives you a zillion shoeboxes. I do not recommend it :) Slowly but surely, we can purge and organize. It’s hard, but I am amazed at the sheer amount of stuff we’ve given away in the last month… books, records and dvds, clothes and linens. Add in all the junk we’re tossing too, and it’s very freeing, if not slightly freaky…my husband is helping too and it’s inspiring to se what we can do together. This time we hope we’ll both know where everything is. :)

  35. says

    I got the urge to de-clutter about a month ago and I’ve been steadily getting rid of STUFF! It feels soooo good! I’ve donated about 8 boxes to the Vietnam Veteran’s of America so far. I have a few more things to get rid of –I can’t wait!

  36. says

    Yes yes. Of late I’ve been walking into rooms and trying to find 10 things to get rid of. Ooh, maybe I’ll do that in my office too! Thanks for the inspiration.

  37. says

    I need to de-clutter so bad! My closet, in particular, is a flipping nightmare and I know I wear barely half of the stuff. That’s my goal for this winter!

  38. says

    I used to rely on moving regularly — when I was single I moved house around once a year. I threw out a lot each time. But now I’m married with two young children and we’ve been in the same house for seven years. The stuff expands to fill the space! It breeds — especially the Lego blocks. And the books.

  39. says

    I call it decrapitating and I need to do it more often. I live and work in the midst of clutter (although it is an organized chaos) and it stresses me out. Your blog layout looks decluttered too – or just different?

  40. says

    I am a similar type of hoarder – lots of things of sentimental value in my house. Drives my husband crazy. I go through fits of trying to declutter, mostly my closet but I get halfway through before I lose interest. I don’t have a “not sure” box because that would give me the opportunity to go back through and turn it into a “keep” box!

  41. says

    I am always working to de-clutter. I am a pack rat by nature but have gotten much better as I’ve gotten older. It is tough to get rid of things because even with clothing items I know exactly who gave it to me, where I got it etc. Now with kids I am trying to keep everything organized which is a challenge but I force myself to go through everything once a month to remove excess clutter. Good luck maintaining your new de-cluttered ways of living after your move!!! You can do it!

  42. says

    I naturally HATE clutter. In fact in retrospect having my place on the market was good cos all of my surfaces had to be clean and clear!!!

    But, I had to de-clutter for my recent move (going from 3 level, 3 bedroom PLUS study to 2 bedroom NO study) meant getting rid of a lot of stuff. But, I still need to do more decluttering.

    The ‘find a spot for all papers’ is a big one for me cos I just leave stuff accumulate in piles (albeit neat piles) on my kitchen bench. (Then I stash it in a cupboard – never to be seen again – when I’m getting visitors!)


  43. says

    My family moans in horror when they catch me watching that show as they know i’m going to go on some sort of crazy throw everything out rampage!

    Which, surprisingly, never gets anything de-cluttered.

    My new year goal is to do just that – re-organize, scan those pictures and tuck them into envelopes, give away give away give away.

    I will just have to write on the back of both hands “one space at a time!”

    oh hey..coveting those possibly u.s. only ziploc bags!

  44. says

    I’m not super cluttered right now, but I’ll be moving, yet again, so I’ll be doing some hard letting go of stuff. I may have to be a 2 suitcase girl with this move, so, if that is the case, then I got a lot to donate. I may try to cheat the system a bit and find a ride share out west. I’ve still got a fair few months, so we’ll see what happens. It is always very freeing when de-cluttering and reduction of “stuff” happens though. Good for you, and your tips are right on and realistic, which we all appreciate.

  45. says

    I hardly ever do this kind of cluttering. I don’t hang on to things that much. The last big job I took on was cleaning out my book shelves and put a lot of books online for sale and only keep the ones I definitely will read more than once.

  46. says

    The older I get the more often I declutter! But I don’t have a schedule. The spirit just moves me. :-)

    I have found that sometimes it takes time for sentimental items to stop mattering, and that when they do, it’s easy to toss/recycle/donate. And now that I have been through several cycles and have proven to myself that what I thought mattered doesn’t any more, the time it takes for things not to matter gets a lot shorter.

    But basically, that’s a good reason to have a “not sure yet” box.

    All of that being said, I am not good with papers. If I file them away, I forget them, so anything important needs to be on a surface.

  47. says

    I did the SAME thing when we moved over the summer…I was amazed at what we had managed to accumulate in the short period we were living there.
    I used to keep everything – ever single card, letter, note, etc that anyone had ever given me. While they do mean a lot to me, the reality is that I will likely NEVER have the time to sit down and reread them all. I now only keep things like that from my parents and sisters and any other ones with significant meaning to me.
    Love the idea of a 30 day crusade =)

  48. MizFit says

    I did. I do. not enough :-) and I always think: NOW SOMEONE ELSE WOULD USE THESE A LOT MORE. I SHOULD GIVE TO THAT SOMEONE ELSE…
    and my new domicile in the bay area?

  49. says

    Have you read Regina Leeds?? She’s amazing and the queen of organizing. Read her!

    One of my favourite things about living in a condo is that it’s really difficult to amass much clutter. And it makes me feel much more relaxed and calm with a more simple, low-maintenance home.

    PS I want those bars. They look awesome.

  50. says

    I’ve moved twice in the last two years, and I was SHOCKED at the amount of stuff we moved the last time, because I thought we threw/gave a bunch of stuff away the first time! After this last move, I vowed to never again move so much stuff.

    Way to go on the de-cluttering!

  51. says

    I was raised by a ruthless mother who believe in minimalism. If we put something down for a moment it was going in the rubbish, the sink or the washing machine. That that translated into my adult life. We don’t even have a coffee table because things may “build up” on it, so I very rarely have need to de-clutter. BUT I do love to help others de-clutter and see what folks collect.

    I guess that makes me a hoarder voyeur?

    Good luck with de-cluttering and the move. As my mum always says, “Grow Where You Are Planted”. I know you’ll grow and grow and grow!!

  52. says

    Getting rid of clutter is so wonderful. I really did a thorough job when I made the decision to move to Texas- of course that was two years ago and we’re still here in the northwest. BUT, the de-cluttering did stick as I never know when I might actually get the chance to really move to my beloved Texas so it keeps me from getting or keeping useless stuff. Maybe you just have to always be prepared for a major move!

  53. says

    I would be very interested to learn about the effective steps that you have discovered regarding the thought de-cluttering topic. Because I m a not at all found in clutter.

  54. says

    I’m regularly decluttering (which means I’m regularly cluttering, too).

    My favorite tip: turn all your clothes on hangers so they hang backward in the closet (hooking over the back of the rod, not the front). In 4-6 months, when the seasons change, check all the clothes. Those that have not been warn in one season need to be considered for donation.

    I move these (still hanging backward) to a small corner of the closet. Not used since last check? They must go.

    I don’t keep fat clothes and skinny clothes like many do.

    For paper clutter, I’ve found that my shredder is my friend (and the shredded paper makes great compost for my gardens).

  55. says

    Decluttering is one of the best feelings ever. The best money I ever spent was for professional organizers to come into my home to organize my scrapbooking space in the basement of my Colorado home. I purchased a “package” of time and ended up being able to do the home office AND the kitchen, too!

    Loved it so much, when I moved, before unpacking my kitchen stuff, I contacted a friend I knew from living here previously and asked if she wanted to help me organize my kitchen as I unpacked and paid her to do so. She’s got six daughters and is a homeschooler and is one of the most organized people I know and she does it out of LOVE!

    I think she might have paid ME to do it, but at the time her husband was between jobs, so it helped out their family and was invaluable for me, too. We figured out where everything would be used before putting it away. My new kitchen is probably four times the size of my previous one, so it was a lot of fun. We first used sticky notes to show where everything went, but I bought a label machine and labeled EVERY drawer and cupboard with what it contained. People may laugh, but any visiting family or friend can cook or put dishes away in my kitchen without stopping to ask about every item and where it goes!

    The money spent on the pro organizers was SO worthwhile because it taught me a lot about dividing areas into zones. What gets used the most and how it’s used determines where that item needs to be. And it keeps the counter tops clear and uncluttered. And I was at the point that looking at the WHOLE job was so overwhelming to me, it helped to have outside help to break it down into workable steps. It took a lot of making a big mess at the start and you are smart to do just one area at a time. Otherwise you can really get strung out and distracted! They made piles of throw/donate/keep and even took the stuff to donate for me and provided charitable receipts. It was awesome.

  56. says

    I totally am a clutterbug. It’s sad. It drives my husband nuts and when he shovels all my “stuff” into “my corner” of the office, then I really see the piles happen and it annoys the heck out of me.

    Thank you for the tips to declutter. I must get on it.

    P.S. Welcome to the Bay Area.

  57. says

    Will definitely be working in decluttering this week. last time I went through my stuff I donated about 6 bags (or more) to the Salvation Army…clothes, books, household stuff. Still much more to go through. Thanks for the great tips.