By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer

It seems like we’re always looking for different tricks or hacks to make our lives easier.

There are two questions I get asked the most when it comes to downsizing and decluttering…


Where do I start?

People are often so overwhelmed by the amount of clutter. The task of decluttering is so daunting, that the amount of clutter actually prevents them from getting started.

I remember sitting on the floor of my family room in my big home when I first started my downsizing and decluttering journey. I looked up, cried, and asked myself “where do I even begin?”

Those emotions and that experience were so real that I can still feel them today. If you are overwhelmed by the daunting task ahead of you, I hope that these extreme decluttering tricks will help.

The second most asked question is…


Are there any tricks that I can use or that you recommend to your clients to declutter that will simplify their life?

The funny thing is that these 5 extreme decluttering tricks will not only get you started, but they will also be tools and habits you can use regularly to keep clutter at bay, giving you the peace of mind from living in a clutter-free environment.


5 Extreme Decluttering Tricks That Will Simplify Your Life


1. Pick a decluttering method that works best for you and use it regularly

If you have a decluttering method that you’ve used in the past and you were able to make good progress, why not use that decluttering method again and again?

My personal “go-to” decluttering method is the 15-minute Burst Method, where at least once a day I declutter an area of my home that bothers me the most, one that if I let it continue, would pile up, causing more stress.

I pick one area, I set my timer for 15-minutes and I declutter. Typically, my biggest culprits are my desk, my kitchen counter, or my car. This habit is now part of my daily routine and it helps simplify my life.


2. Start with one drawer, one shelf, one area at a time

A little progress is better than no progress at all.

It’s surprising just how motivating it is to complete one area, no matter how big or small.  Once you start to see progress, you will gain momentum. This little trick helps you get started when you are stuck and don’t know where to start.

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3. Rainy day decluttering

I don’t know about you, but if it’s a beautiful sunny day, decluttering is the last thing I want to be doing!

If you know it’s going to be a rainy weekend, why not plan to make a big dent in your decluttering project?

Pick one area of your home, get your trash bags ready, turn on your favorite music, and just get started! I’ve used this trick many times. My mantra has become “never waste a rainy day.”


4. Start with the obvious… which includes duplicates

One of the fastest and easiest way is to get started is to remove items that are broken, not used, or no longer wanted, especially bigger items of furniture that are just taking up space.

Examples: China cabinets, servers, large credenzas, are pieces that we might have used at one point in our lives when we had formal dining rooms. It’s just an opportunity for you to rethink whether you actually use those pieces or whether they’re just taking up space.

Another little trick that I recommend, is to take “before and after” pictures of the area that you declutter. You’ll not only be pleased with your progress; you’ll be motivated to not add things back in… thereby simplifying your life.


5. Have fun! Instead of making decluttering a chore, make it a game!

When you feel overwhelmed or when you get stuck, don’t be afraid to call a friend or family member to help you get back on track.

When we tell ourselves the task is daunting… it is daunting. But when we reframe that statement to say, “decluttering is just a process why not make it fun?” Then, decluttering can actually become like a game that we want to win!

When I was trying to downsize and declutter my 11 closets and nine rolling racks (watch my TEDx talk), I called a friend who I knew would be brutally honest with me… and she was!

Over the course of several day, moving from one closet to the next, I tried on every single piece of clothing I owned. She would tell me if it fit and if it looked good then I would keep it. She would also tell me if it looked terrible and did not fit properly then I would donate it.

At that time, I had four different sizes in my closets.

  • It was easy to donate most of the large size clothing because I was determined not to get back to that size.
  • The second size down was a little bit harder, but then I realized that I did not wear nearly as many dressy business suits or dressy dresses, so it was easy enough to donate those.
  • The third size down was the most difficult because that was my current size. But when I looked at how many white pants and black pants I had, it made sense to donate at least half of them.
  • The fourth size down I kept some of those because I was motivated to get to a smaller size I hadn’t been to in years.

My friend who is so brutally honest with me and gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received because she forced me make decisions that I had been deferring for a very long time.

She helped me overcome a hurdle I have been dealing with for many years.

If you are stuck, if have such a friend, don’t hesitate to ask for their help.


Each week I will be sending an email to my email list on how to optimize different areas of your home for holiday entertaining.

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Please share a trick that you’ve used to help you get motivated to

downsize and declutter?