Organizing Your Home: What to Get Rid Of, What to Keep, and Where to Start

May 11, 2019 Off By Sherry Borsheim

Are there things that are cluttering up your home that you want to get rid of but you’re afraid you may need them in the future?

As a professional organizer, the top two questions I get asked are:

“How do I decide what I can get rid of?”

“How do I know I won’t need that item again?”

In this article I am going to reveal a secret: knowing what to get rid of, what to keep, and where to get started.

What to Get Rid Of: If it’s not meaningful or useful, get rid of it. How will you know you won’t need it in the future? You don’t! You only know that you don’t need it right now. Here is what you must believe: you will be able to get that item again just as you were able to get it in the first place. You have to trust the market place. It is as ready as you are to swap things. If you find that you do need it in the future, you will be able to simply find a substitute on Craigslist, eBay, or another of the online free markets in the US.

Let’s say you get rid of an unused bookcase by selling it on Craigslist for $40 and that a year later you actually need a bookcase. Within a week or two you will be able to find one. Most of the time you will find one that suits your needs better than the old one. Plus, you got the benefit of having that $40 in your pocket for the past year.

What to Keep: Keep only the things that are useful or meaningful. If you are the type of person that cannot let memorabilia go, give this simple three-step process a try.

1. Pick out the top 10 items you truly value and that mean the most to you.

2. Honor your memories by beautifully displaying them. Frame a special t-shirt, hang it on the wall, or create a shadow box of special jewelry, news clippings, and other small items.

3. Find a single, large bin or box (less than 15 gallon) for each family member. Pull out favorites and fill the bins. Bless another person by donating or selling the remaining items.

Where to Get Started: Write down all areas that you want organized. Start with the area you use the most. In one area:

Start by removing stuff that is definitely recycling or garbage. You will, most likely, get distracted but only focus on garbage; don’t touch anything else. Here is a tip for focusing: play your favorite song and have all garbage removed by the time the song ends.

Next, place three large bins in your working area. One bin for things to be donated, one for things that can be sold, and one for things that belong someplace else. If needed, you can get more bins. When done sorting, move the bins to a different area.

Start organizing only after all items have been sorted. Just organize the items that are staying. Reassess the area. What purpose do you want it to serve? How you can maximize the space? How you could use walls to maximize space for displaying items by keeping them off the floor? Answer these questions and let the answers guide the organizational process.

If you need help making the most of your space, or if you get stuck on one of these steps, think about hiring a professional organizer. A qualified organizer can be found in your area by checking with the National Association of Professional Organizers (

Heidi DeCoux is publisher of Life Made Simple e-Magazine, a professional organizer and creator of the Fast-Filing Method home office filing system. Heidi energizes her readers’ by simplifying their homes … schedules. For more info, free tips, and to receive her FREE Report: The Fast … Easy Way to Get Organized and Stay Organized Forever, visit

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