22 Ways To Declutter Your Life

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a fan of starting goals before January 1st. I also love using the weeks leading up to a new year as a time to clean, organize and restructure. Before I left for our travels + in the free time I’ve had since I left, I’ve been focused on making space in my life. (I’m starting to realize just how much of a minimalist I really am – much to my husband’s dismay. Pretty sure I’m starting to show some psychotic tendencies. Sorrrrrry Bren.)

Even though some of the things I’ve been doing seem small, time spent sorting through them on a daily basis can add up, and I hate wasting time sorting through clutter. For example, some people can have a little red 10,331 above the envelope icon on their phone and not think twice about it. I AM NOT THAT PERSON. #inboxzeroforlife

I really believe that if you make space in your life, there’s not only less time spent searching and sorting, but more opportunity for great things to come your way. Things feel lighter and you start to take note of what you’re doing and buying that just aren’t worth it. This can mean getting rid of items you don’t use, don’t work well, or you just don’t like/avoid using for whatever reason. (My rule is generally 6 months without use = toss/recycle/donate.) It can also mean clearing space in your personal life: evaluating relationships, how much you despise or enjoy a certain type of workout or any other hobby or activity you do often. Does it fulfill you enough to keep spending time and money on it?

SO, I’m bringing you:

how to declutter your life

Other title options include: “Tips for living a minimalist lifestyle” or “How to drive your husband crazy”.

I’ve finally written out this list that I consciously go through every few months. The key to this working is that you have to be RUTHLESS! No “wellllll I’m saving this empty shampoo bottle so I remember the brand next time I go to Sephora!**” Or I MIGHT need this the next time my friend who lives 3,000 miles away brings her kid to visit!”. Just no.

(**I remind myself of things like this by taking photos of the item. I actually do this with passages in books that I want to refer back to often!)

I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book yet, but everyone says the rule is “if something doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it”, so I’ve started following that with everything… generally. I mean, socks, for example, don’t necessarily spark joy in me, but I did have a few pairs of those that tended to slip down a lot or were just on their last leg, (pun intended) so I tossed ’em. I swear to you it saves time when you’re rushing to grab a pair and no longer have to sort through the “not so great” ones.

OKAY. Enough chatting. Here we go! (There’s a printable PDF saved here, as well!)


  • respond to, delete or file personal emails in your main inbox. UNSUBSCRIBE!
  • go through unsent drafts in your email and sort/label or delete as needed (if it’s something I refer to often, I send it to myself and then file it in the related folder so I can find it easily)
  • unfollow people on social media who don’t make you happy
  • organize your computer desktop and folders, file or delete anything you don’t use
  • organize photos on your computer into folders –  delete anything you don’t love
  • delete photos on your phone/upload everything to your computer
  • delete apps on your phone you don’t use
  • delete programs on computer you don’t use
  • sort through bookmarks on your internet browser, delete what you don’t use
  • sort through notepad on phone, delete or consolidate notes


  • go through closets and drawers with clothes and separate into piles (sell unwanted items on Poshmark, eBay, have a garage sale, donate or toss)
  • clean out refrigerator/freezer, toss expired items or what you don’t use
  • clean out kitchen cabinets, toss expired items or what you don’t use
  • sort through kitchen appliances, storage containers, and pots and pans, and donate or toss anything old/what doesn’t work properly
  • clean bathroom drawers and makeup bag
  • organize storage boxes in categories with labels
  • clean out your car and organize anything you keep inside
  • clean out your wallet


  • save tons of recipes? tear out every workout you see in a magazine? be honest with yourself: have you/will you actually use it or do the workout? go through and toss what you won’t make or do. bonus points if you create a binder to organize everything!
  • look at your bank accounts and credit cards – if you have multiple credit cards, find cards that offer zero interest balance transfers and put it all on one if at all possible (instead of having multiple bills with multiple interest rates, etc)
  • make a list of things you want to do on a daily basis (some of my recurring things are to drink hot lemon water, take vitamins, eat more greens) and find a way to make space for it and encourage yourself. get a cute vase to store lemons on your countertop so they’re in plain sign an easy to access. get a little jar for vitamins and put them where you’ll see them daily. clear out a drawer in the refrigerator for greens.
  • write cards for people you want to thank or want to know you’re thinking of them. sounds like it doesn’t fit into “decluttering”, right? but I’ve found that sometimes I think often about how I want to reach out to someone and keep putting it off, which only makes it feel more urgent in my head. do it now! It feels great to tell someone what they mean to you and how they’ve changed your life, made you happier, whatever it is. And they, of course, always appreciate it too. HAPPY RAYS OF SUNSHINE ALL AROUND.

What did I miss? Give me your favorite ways to declutter! (Don’t forget: if you love checklists like me, you can print out this 22 Ways to Declutter PDF and cross items off as you go!)

I’m a writer currently living in New Jersey and blogging about running, fitness, wellness, and motivation. I want every reader to laugh and feel empowered, balanced, and motivated! Subscribe by email to get 1-2 newsletters a month with post updates, my favorite articles, running playlists and more!


  1. December 29, 2016 / 2:09 pm

    Kara, this is “so California” of you and I LOVE it. I’m the same way and truly contemplate becoming a “tiny house” person ALL the time. When I’m in declutter mode, I toss EVERYTHING. Your list is great!

    • January 3, 2017 / 10:30 pm

      Hahaha sooo California! What happened to me?! I actually do live in a tiny house so it started out as non-negotiable organization but for some strange reason I get, like, a cleaning high, doing this. Haha. (Does this make me sound old?)

  2. Cara Montgomery
    January 13, 2017 / 11:16 pm

    I love this!! I’m a little behind in your writings but I’m seriously needing to declutter!!

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