How to Throw Things Away

apartment-cleaningOkay, let’s get something straight right at the beginning. This is not a blog post about how to store your stuff more efficiently. This is all about having less stuff. That’s right, it’s about throwing stuff away.

Part of minimalism, which I’ve been exploring in my own life these last few months, is living with less. This doesn’t mean building more shelving or uber-organizing my books. It means LIVING WITH LESS.

A simple concept with life-changing implications and many questions, the biggest of which is, how do you even begin to get rid of all your stuff?

Frankly, you have to face your mountain of clutter and be ruthless.

Jacket1For instance, in the book, Simplify Your Space by Marcia Ramsland, she recommends the following tools to simplify your bedroom: a wastebasket, a recycling bin, and three boxes. One box is for things to keep. The other two boxes are for items to donate Jacket2and sell. In  For Packrats Only by Don Aslett, he outlines four steps to follow to ditch the junk.

  • Recognize that junk is bad.
  • Repent (Admit that your junk is hurting you, your energy, your bank account, and your relationships.)
  • Remove the junk. Yes, perform the physical act of throwing things away.
  • Refrain from bringing new junk into your life.

Get the picture?

Fortunately, there are dozens of titles that can help you on your way to a clutter-free life. These books outline plans of action, suggest tips for helping you decide what to keep and what to get rid of, and advice on how to deal with the emotional side of throwing things away. My favorites are listed below.

Personally, I found getting rid of stuff liberating, although, to be honest, so far my family is not quite on board yet. Stay tuned for the further adventures of a hopeful minimalist.

50 thingsThrow Out Fifty Things : Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life by Gail Blanke

Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter : Simplify Your Life One Minute at a Time  by Erin Rooney Doland

The Ultimate Guide to Clearing Your Clutter : Liberate Your Space, Clear Your Mind, and Bring in Success by Mary Lambert

Jacket.aspxThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Decluttering by  Regina Leeds

The 100 Thing Challenge : How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul by Dave Bruno

Clutter Control: Putting Your Home on a Diet by Jeff Campbell

Downloadable Audiobooks

Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life : Discover Why You Clutter and How You Can Stop by Mike Nelson


Winning the Clutter War by Sandra Felton

Conquering Clutter : Getting To The Bottom Of Clutter by Megan Francis

Decluttering Secrets : Tips And Tricks To Becoming Organized by Sally Munroe

How to Fold Your Clothes

I’ve been folding my clothes wrong all my life.

I discovered this when I began exploring minimalism. Minimalism is the idea that less is more. Owning fewer things makes your life easier. However, minimalism is not about getting rid of everything. Part of the concept of minimalism is putting things away properly.

Let’s take clothing as an example. When clothes are folded correctly, they take up less space. A simple concept, but I didn’t believe it until I saw it.

Here’s a before picture of my dresser. A pretty typical dresser, I’d like to think.

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Now here is what one shelf looked like once I changed how I folded my clothes. Just look at that bottom shelf compared to the one above it.

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I was startled by how much less room my clothing took up. I emptied the dresser and refolded everything. This was the end result. (Yes, I have a little too much on that poor top shelf!)

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I did not discard one single item. In fact, I ADDED a few things that had been hanging in my closet.

Here’s how it works: Lay your clothes flat and fold them length-wise, twice. Then either fold or roll them so that they can be stored on end. The only exception I made was the pants, which I found hard to make stay folded and standing on end, so I stacked them. They still take up less space than they did before. I simply folded them length-wise as instructed and then folded them in half and then in half again.

I discovered this method of folding while reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, where you can read a more detailed explanation of this method of folding. Kondo’s folding method is also detailed in her newly released Spark Joy.

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Giving Minimalism a Try

messydeskCan getting rid of stuff make you happy? Does paring down possessions lead to a higher quality of life? Do downsizing and minimalism really bring contentment?

Honestly, I have no idea. But I thought I would give it a try, and since it all begins with getting rid of stuff, I turned to the library shelves for some guidance on the subject.

It turns out downsizing, getting rid of clutter, and minimalism are hot topics nowadays. Ironically, there are hundreds of books and blogs all trying to help people learn how to live with less and love it. And, as they all claim, having too much, whether it is stuff or information, is not helpful. The number of titles was overwhelming, and I didn’t want to clutter up my life with them while I was trying to unclutter my life!

Since the underlying spirit of minimalism is quality, not quantity, I decided to see if I could come up with a short list of  titles that were interesting and genuinely helpful for anyone who truly wants to get started simplify and downsizing her life.  Listed below are the titles I found most helpful. I will also be reporting back on how my efforts go, so stay tuned!

Wallman interviews anthropologists studying the clutter crisis, consults with scientists who have linked ‘stuffocation’ to rising cortisol levels and declining psychological well-being, and introduces the concept of choosing experience over stuff.  He examines the pluses and minuses of minimalism, voluntary simplicity, and materialism, giving a fair look at each concept. Useful for those who are wondering if they should give minimalism and simplicity a try.

Jacket.aspx Clutter Busting your Life by Brooks Palmer.  In these pages, Palmer shows how we use clutter to protect ourselves, control others, and cling to the past, and how it keeps us from experiencing the joy of connection. With insight-prompting questions, exercises, and client examples, this book is a how-to, self-analytical spiritual journey. It will help you deal with clutter and the reasons behind all the clutter. For those wishing to remove both physical and emotional baggage.


From basement to bedroom, kitchen to car, and into every corner of life, Mellen’s system yields lasting results. Discover how to: Never lose your keys or wallet again, stop mail, magazine, and paper pileups for good, feel empowered to tackle bills and budgets, reclaim space and time once dominated by clutter. For those who love having a step-by-step plan of action.

This best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

And the ultimate space-saving sources of info: ebooks!

 E-Book 5 days to a clutter-free house : quick, easy ways to clear up your space by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims.