Decluttering 101

A not-atypical garage, before decluttering   Photos: Martha Tobin

By Martha Tobin

How to get started

  1. Pick a small space (a nightstand, drawer or pantry, for example)
  2. Have five boxes at the ready for:
    • items that belong elsewhere or to someone else in the home
    • items that belong to someone outside the home
    • ‘’maybe” items
    • items to donate or sell
    • items for trash or recycling
  1. Take all items out of the area you want to declutter.
  2. Sort items into your five boxes.
  3. Working with the items you have left, determine if they are used daily, weekly or monthly and then assign them areas in your space based on their frequency of use. Consider using bins, shelf risers or drawer dividers to keep “like” with “like” items together.

NOTE: For the “maybe” items, date the box. Review in three to six months. If you’ve not needed those items in that time, consider donating them.

Tackling the garage

  1. Pick a day when you can take everything out of your garage.
  2. Lay out all the items on your driveway or lawn.
  3. As you bring out items, sort them into categories (i.e., gardening, tools, sports, holiday decorations, luggage, car accessories, lawn and snow equipment, toys).
  4. Review items in each category and determine which you want to keep, which are trash/recycle, which are to donate or sell, which you have duplicates of, etc.
  5. Working with the “keep” items, determine how much you have in each category and then set up zones for those categories. Items that are used most often should be in the most accessible zones.
  6. Install additional shelving, hooks and (clear) bins as needed so that you can find homes for the items you are keeping.
  7. Label your bins – masking tape and a Sharpie work great!
An organized and decluttered garage, where there is a home for everything.

Martha Tobin is the owner of a local Glebe business called Declutter4Good – Organizing and Decluttering (

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