Quick Tip: 3-Step Action Plan to Let Go of Stuff You Don’t Use

On November 27, 2013, in Home Organizing, by Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer®
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Last month, I mentioned five things you can start letting go of. A change in seasons is a great time to take action and get more organized. When it’s time to begin the process of parting with things that you no longer use or need, you might not know how to begin. Though it can seem daunting, you can use three simple steps to help you get started.

3-step action plan

Original Image Credit: Sean MacEntee

Follow this three-step action plan:

Action Step #1

Take an inventory of everything (e.g., all boots, all sweaters, all knick knacks, etc.). Doing this is the first step to to figuring out how much stuff you have. After writing down all the things you have, you can then move on to …

Action Step #2

You will need to figure out how much of your stuff you actually use. Guessing how much you use doesn’t give you the real picture, but when you have cold, hard numbers, you really see more clearly the number of things you are storing but not using.

So, separate the things you use often from the things you tend not to reach for. Then, write down the total number of each. As shoes and boots tend to be the Achilles heel for many people (see what I did there?), they’re the stars of my examples, but you can apply these actions steps to just about any item.


  • Volume: 20 pairs of boots
  • Actively using: 3 pairs
  • Not using: 17 pairs

Action Step 3

As you look at volume of things you have verses how often you use them, think about how much space you have to store the items you will keep. If you let go of the things you no longer need, could the remaining items all fit in their designated storage area? Or, will you have to carve out space in other areas of your home? Do you have realistic option that you can maintain with relative ease?

Using the same example above, I’ve added expanded upon it a bit and added another that differs drastically. Both should prompt some questions you can ask yourself as you decide what to let go of.

Example #1:

  • Original volume: 20 pairs of boots
  • Actively using: 3 pairs
  • Keeping: 6 pairs
  • Can be donated: 14 pairs

Example #2:

  • Original volume: 20 pairs of boots
  • Actively using: 3 pairs
  • Keeping: 18 pairs
  • Can be donated: 2 pairs

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Can they all fit in one closet (with my other shoes)?
  2. Will I really wear the _______ pairs of boots that I haven’t reached for but am keeping anyway?
  3. Why am I holding on to shoes that  I haven’t worn (and most likely will never wear again)?
  4. Am I keeping items that are in disrepair or outdated or unflattering?
  5. How will I feel if I give them away to someone who needs them more than I do?
  6. How will I feel when have enough space to store the things I do use?

Of course, there are probably several more questions that you can ask yourself. But, if you are committed to letting go of excess stuff that’s no longer useful to you, you’ll take specific steps to ensure that you live with less clutter. So, take action and …

Commit to letting go:

  • If I don’t wear them by ______ (insert date), I will donate them to __________ (specific person or charity).
  • I will drop them off or have them picked up by _____________(insert date).
  • I will repeat this process every ___________ (days/weeks/months).



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