5 Easy Steps to go from Pack Rat to Minimalist

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Square photo of a leather chair and side table.

Letting go of belongings can be difficult. In our house, I’m the minimalist (sometimes extremely so) and my husband tends to lean more toward the pack rat side.

It hasn’t been easy but over the years but we’ve been able to strike a balance between our two extreme personalities.

Being a minimalist doesn’t mean getting rid of everything you love! It just means you appreciate what you have and think before buying more.

If you find you’ve gone too far to the dark side and clutter is overtaking the house, garage, and closets (to the point where you’re thinking of adding a second shed in the backyard) check out my tips below.

There can be a happy medium between throwing everything out and having more than enough.

5 Tips to go from Pack Rat to Minimalist!

STEP 1: Start slow

Decluttering is as much a mental process as a physical process. Don’t procrastinate but start slow…one room or area at a time. Think about the room or closet that is weighing the most on your mind and start there. You know, that corner of the basement where boxes are stacked to the ceiling or the hall closet that’s busting at the seams with clothes you’ve been storing.

STEP 2: Employ a helper

My husband and I are very different when it comes to how we view our belongings. He has a tendency to say “that’s still good, I can use that later” or “I don’t want to get rid of that, I paid a lot of money for it”.

While it’s good to be frugal and reuse what you have, sometimes good intentions can morph into hoarding mode pretty quickly if you let it.

Here’s an example, last week I mentioned to my husband that the garage needed to be cleaned out again. To appease me he went out there and threw away a few things then came in and said the garage was clean 🙁

Clearly more could be done so I went out to help. The garage is his space so I didn’t want to be too bossy but I did point out things like old paint cans and a broken rake.

My point is, sometimes clutter has been there so long that it becomes almost invisible. Other times clutter can just be overwhelming to the point where it makes a person shut down.

In these situations, it can be helpful to have someone you trust to help you determine what should stay and what should go.

STEP 3: Three questions to ask yourself when clearing clutter

When you’re trying to look objectively at clutter and decide if an item should stay or go, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do I have duplicates of this item?
  2. Have I used this item in the past year or will I ever use it again?
  3. Does this item bring me joy? (a nod to the KonMari method)


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STEP 4: Put items to donate in a one-month “hold” pile

I have to admit, over the years I’ve thrown out a few items I wished I hadn’t. For this reason, I now put items that I plan to donate in a bag or box and place them in a “hold” pile for one month. One month seems to be enough time to be sure that I don’t really need the items.

Occasionally, I’ll fish through the pile for something I was planning to donate and pull it out to keep. It doesn’t happen very often though. It’s usually out of sight, out of mind! After one month, I will gather everything up and drop it off at Goodwill.

STEP 5: Enjoy your clutter-free space

Ahh…no piles of stuff and roomy closets. I love how an organized space can make you feel calm and in control.

If you’ve been living with clutter for a while you’ll truly appreciate an organized space even more. Enjoy it and don’t fill up your space with more stuff. You’ve worked hard so don’t go to the dark side again!


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For more organizational tips, check out my posts 5 Tips on Making a Small Home Cozy and Functional and Home Office Ideas for Small Spaces.

Do you have a great tip on how to stay organized? Share your ideas in the comment section below.

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