With 2021 officially in the rearview mirror, now is the time to purge the unnecessary items lying around your apartment, create more space and approach this new year with plenty of room to grow. Who better to break down the process of what to get rid of and what to keep than a selection of some of the top professional organizers in the industry?
Without further ado, here are 15 quick tips from some industry experts on entering 2022 with a clean space and a clear mind, void of all your outdated and unnecessary items and ideas.
1. Be honest with yourself
Steph, a Columbus-based certified KonMari consultant and professional organizer at Find Your Tidy suggests that you, “Look for areas in your apartment that are overstuffed or collecting dust to start decluttering.” She goes on to say that, “Clothes and papers tend to be the main culprits, especially if you’ve inherited a belief that you need things just in case or because it’s still good.”
Being both a professional organizer and someone who has moved seven times in the past nine years, Steph also recommends, “Clearing out that sweater with the hole in the seam, those pants that have been too tight for a while or the backlog of college essays and textbooks that you haven’t cracked open in years.”
“Be honest with yourself about where you are in your life now, and let go of the things that don’t support your current lifestyle and goals.”
2. Reduce, reuse, recycle
“A good rule of thumb is, if you haven’t worn or used the item in a year, it’s likely you won’t use it again,” suggests Fort Collins-based organizer, AJ of Organizing by AJ.
“With my clients, I utilize my company pillars: reduce, reuse, recycle. If the items are in great condition, consider reselling them on an app or in person at your local resale shop.”
3. Optimize and organize
“Apartment clutter will undoubtedly make an already small space feel even more cramped, and it can contribute to a high-stress level,” says the Cleanzen Cleaning Services Team.
“Because storage in apartments is usually very limited, optimizing the use of that space is essential. If you are like many other renters, your closet floor may be covered in shoes that you have not worn in months. As a rule of thumb, if you have not worn a pair of shoes in the last year, it is time to throw them out.”
“To optimize space in your closet, consider investing in a tall shoe rack or a door-mounted rack. You could also hide a flat storage bin of shoes underneath your bed if you need to find more storage space.”
4. Stay in line with your lifestyle
San Diego-based professional organizer, Janine Morales of Tidy Closet suggests that “One thing you need to get rid of today is clothes that don’t spark joy or have served their purpose. A quick wardrobe edit can make a significant impact on how your closet looks and feels.”
“Saying goodbye to the items that do not reflect your ideal life anymore serves for closure and starts a new beginning with only outfits that spark joy and make you feel good about yourself.”
5. Embrace your current situation
“I see a lot of people that hold on to clothes that don’t fit,” explains Sydney, an Austin-based organizer and founder of Organize With Sydney.
“Whether the clothes are too small or too big, people like to keep every item in their closet just in case. I encourage my clients to embrace where they are in life by helping them make space in their homes for the clothes that fit and make them feel good. In the end, they stress less about their clothes because they know they can grab any piece when getting dressed and it will fit!”
6. Toss the trendy kitchen items
Professional organizer Aileen, of Aligned by Aileen, often tells her clients to remove “any duplicate items. Whether you have blended households or have collected items over the years, you only need one of everything. When it comes to single-purpose kitchen gadgets and appliances, if you’re only using an item once a year or only bought it for a trendy diet (looking at you, spiralizer), you probably don’t need it.”
“Consider borrowing items from a neighbor or getting multipurpose tools and appliances.”
7. Ditch the outdated items
“Get rid of unused or outdated computer accessories and kitchen gadgets,” suggests Darra McClendon of Simply Darra.
“These items may seem helpful at the time of purchase or gifting, but they just take up valuable counter and storage space.”
She encourages her clients to always, “Think of functionality and let go of the things that are just sitting there.”
8. Donate your old bottles
Victoria Willard, founder of Organize Design Create, talks about one of her most common cuts while helping her clients organize by saying, “I’ve worked with clients in the past who have tons of reusable water bottles throughout their space. I’ve had one client who collects them because she finds them cute or unique. My rule of thumb is to keep two water bottles per family member and donate the rest to a women’s or men’s shelter.”
9. Don’t let paper pile up
“Even though we live in a digital age, we still need to deal with paper clutter,” says Karen Elaine Olson of Organized Lane.
“To reduce paper clutter, sort your mail as it’s received. Put junk mail in the recycling bin or trash. Sort bills and file them away, don’t pile them on the table. Same with magazines or books. Once you’ve read them, pass them on to someone else or donate them.”
10. Ask yourself the difficult questions
Sherri Monte of Elegant Simplicity claims that “The best way to go about ridding yourself of excess stuff is to simply ask yourself a series of questions that help you determine the significance of this particular belonging to you:”
- Do I need this?
- Do I love this?
- Do I want to keep this?
“Determining the significance of each of your belongings takes time but you don’t have to tackle everything at once.”
She also encourages people to “map out a logical approach to working through the things in your apartment. Visually seeing the progress is another strategy of ensuring you maintain perspective as you work towards a more intentional way of living.”
11. Don’t hold on to unused hand-me-downs
Nova Scotia-based professional organizer, Cindy Wezenbeek works a lot with renters and notices that, “Renters are usually short on space and storage so it’s important to sort through things in order to maximize every square foot.”
“They often hang on to all the hand-me-downs they were given like furniture, dishes, etc.”
She tells her clients to “Take the time to go through these hangers-on and donate what no longer serves a purpose. Odds are, someone else can use them more!”
12. Free yourself from unused furniture
Lauren of This Simplified Home suggests that you “take a look at your rarely used furniture. This includes chairs you don’t sit in or side tables that gather nothing but dust and clutter. Minimizing the amount of rarely used furniture you have in your home can greatly add to a feeling of spaciousness (even in a small space).”
13. Ditch the excess emotional items
Figuring out what to get rid of is as simple as, “streamlining your space by getting rid of anything you don’t love or has outlived its usefulness. This includes items such as unused gifts, unworn clothing and excess coffee mugs,” explains Jenn of Intentional Spaces Organized.
As for sentimental items, Jenn goes on to say that, “We all have emotional physical clutter. These are unused gifts, expired or aspiring hobbies and old childhood relics. Believe it or not, seeing these items, or even just knowing they are buried at the bottom of a closet somewhere, causes negative emotions. Pick your favorite three to six sentimental items that contain joyful memories and lovingly release the rest.”
14. Cherish memories, not items
“Anything that was gifted or given to you that you have never used, wanted, or loved, donate it or give it to someone who will,” say Matina Kazameas and Kristina Harris of Two Tidy Tinas, LLC.
The Tidy Tinas go on to suggest that, “It’s okay to let go of items that hold emotional significance even if someone you care about gave them to you. Someone else will be able to love and cherish those items when you let them go.”
At the end of the day, they assert that the most important thing is that you “Hold onto the meaningful gesture, not the unwanted gift.”
15. Reduce redundancies
“Having lived in an apartment for the majority of my adult life, I have found that I do not need these items in my space for they create unnecessary clutter,” explains Jess Reed of Green Mountain Space.
“If you live on your own, with a partner or family, I highly recommend keeping three sets of plate ware and flatware per person.”
Another reliable way to figure out what you need to get rid of is by “purging your closet every season. This leaves you with room to be creative and grow as a person. You are not the same person you once were 10 years ago. So why keep your 10-year-old band shirt or your high school sweatshirt?”
It’s up to you
At the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to decluttering your apartment and figuring out exactly what to get rid of. If any of the tips above resonate with you, give them a try. Should the end result be a more streamlined space and a clearer mind, that’s great. If you regret the cuts you make, you can always find something new online to fill the void left behind.