Clutter clear for the new year: Start with a small, simple project

Whether you’re thinking about selling your home or buying a new home, take a week this January to clear your clutter. Why? It will save you time, energy, and money when you sell or move. You won’t have to spend your time packing things and paying to move things that you no longer even want. Not to mention, a clean clear home is an invitation to any buyer to picture their own stuff inside.

Put it in your calendar

You might not look forward to clutter clearing like you look forward to a spa day, but if you can get in your calendar, the likelihood of you actually doing it goes way up.  Small projects can be done in 1–2 hours, medium-size projects need 2–4 hours, and large projects take a full day or a weekend.

Choose a small starter project

Small projects (1–2 hrs) Medium projects (2–4 hrs) Large projects (full day)
Junk Drawer Kitchen drawers Garage
Kitchen countertop Master closet Kitchen pantry
Linen closet Filing cabinet Storage areas
Coat closet Bathroom cabinets Office

Start with a small project your first day and use The ART of Letting Go e-book, a simple process for releasing unwanted items that are difficult to organize. The ART of letting go, by Clear & Simple organizer Marla Dee, will give you tested tools to help you move through small, medium, and large projects, as well as a list of favorite resources. For more help, consider The ART of Letting Go e-course.

Set up an organizing staging area

Set up a staging area in each room by clearing other items out of that area. This lets you start each project with a clean, open area. And that makes the whole process emotionally lighter and easier.


Not everything is meant for the trash. Some items have lasting value, even if you no longer need them in your life. Choose an agency you care about and want to support. This will make letting go easier. In fact, we encourage you to sort into three piles: trash, recycle, and donate).

Have fun

Get together with friends or family, put on music, get in comfy clothes, have snacks handy. It can be fun and freeing to let it all go (figuratively speaking, of course).

Hush your inner perfectionist

Be realistic and let go of perfection.  If you clear even one layer of your clutter you will still have less to deal with. You will find that once you get started you will be inspired to do another area.

Get help for the hard stuff

We all have things that are “loaded” for us. It could be your dad’s book collection, your mother’s china collection, or your grown children’s things. Get neutral or professional help for the loaded areas. Don’t try to tackle these on your own. Marla Dee, a professional organizer for over 18 years, says that clients always think they will have more time later to deal with their clutter. “If I could just take a month (or year) off the rest of life I could deal with this clutter.” That time never comes.

Ready, set, start. And know that everything you clear before you move is saving you time, energy, and money during and after your move. And chances are good that a clear, organized space will bring a higher offer than a cluttered, messy one.