The Don’ts of Decluttering and Organizing

There are endless articles out there sharing tips and hacks on how to declutter and organize your spaces. Of course you should start with a plan and a set of priorities. Yes, you should set aside a realistic of amount time and energy to undertake this project. If you can, enlist your partner and other family members to help. Those are just a few of the DO’s to organizing. What I’ve got here is a list, gleaned from our very own Simplify Experts organizers, of some excellent DON’Ts to decluttering and organizing.

Time Solutions

  • Do not try to do it all in one day.
  • Don’t establish unrealistic goals such as the entire house in one day or the whole garage in two hours.
  • Don’t expect things to go quickly; i.e. the disorganization did not happen in one day, so it won’t be fixed in one day.
  • Do not try to do an entire room, closet, or garage all at once. Divide the space into sections and get through each one before tackling the next.
  • Don’t underestimate the time it takes to sort through things, whether it’s paper piles, clothes, or toys.


  • Don’t keep an item out of guilt because someone gave it to you. Thank the person warmly and then bless it on to someone else.
  • Don’t hold onto things for “just in case I might need it one day”. Live by the 20/20 rule. If it can be replaced within 20 minutes for $20 or less, let it go.
  • Do not hesitate to let go of an unfinished hobby item or project you’ve been holding onto and have been “trying to finish” for years.
  • Don’t keep an ill-fitting item just because it was expensive. It won’t change into a great-fitting item by hanging in your closet for years.
  • Don’t give equal importance to all items. Your grown child’s artwork was all really great, but you don’t need to keep each and every piece. Pick out the best and most meaningful, then discard the rest.
  • Don’t go at it alone. Find a friend or family member to share in the work together.
  • Have you got a package you’ve been meaning to send someone? Don’t keep it on your desk or kitchen counter—take it with you on your next errand and get it sent of at the USPS or UPS center.
  • Don’t keep shoes or clothes that are beyond repair. If there is still life in them, place them in your car so you can drop them off at the cobbler or the tailor.
  • Don’t let that jar of loose change overflow and collect dust. Take it to a Coinstar machine and treat yourself to a nice dinner with the cash.
  • Do not shop garage sales if you know you can’t resist buying unneeded things. As my father used to say, “Buying random stuff at a garage sale is just moving something from one person’s junk collection and adding it to our junk collection.”
  • Don’t hold onto the past…literally. Do you really need to keep your great aunt’s silver tea set, or your great-great-grandfather’s figurine collection? If you’ve had items like these in a box for years, you can probably let someone else enjoy them. Cherish the memory, not the item.


  • It does not matter if the Container Store is having a great sale right now. Don’t buy a trunk’s worth of bins, organizers, shelves, and dividers until you have decluttered the space. Figure out then what organizing solutions will work best and fit into your space as well as your budget.
  • Do not put heavy things up high; it may topple down on you when you’re retrieving something.
  • Don’t get discouraged if it looks worse before it looks better.
  • Don’t aim for a Pinterest- or Instagram-worthy “look”. Organize based on what works best for you and your family.
  • Don’t attempt to organize when you are sick or overly tired.


If you’ve made it a goal to get your home and your life more organized, then that is the first step. As always, if you feel overwhelmed by this task, it may be helpful to hire a professional organizer. A pro can do in three hours what it would take you 9-12 hours. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, a decluttered and organized home will let you live a calmer, less stressful life.



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