How to Simplify Life and Clear the Clutter

What would you take if you had only minutes to get out of your house? Next to people, pets and important papers, how would you decide what you couldn’t live without?

Laura Benjamin's cat

(Photo: Snickers cat hiding out under clothes that are no longer)

A reader said, “Recently, I began to realize that my possessions mean nothing to me — and am considering getting rid of all of them. Furniture, tools, musical instruments, books — even (sadly) pets. Everything I’ve been keeping…holding on to.

After this extended period of unemployment/underemployment, I learned something that people have said — that I’VE said — but it’s become viscerally clear: Nothing matters but the love of those around you. And self respect.

It really took losing things I thought important…a job…income…connections with coworkers, colleagues and the community-at-large…and realizing I didn’t need other things that clutter my life.

This is life’s importance at the most genetic/fundamental levels. And you have to lose, strip, give away everything to understand it, I think. Perhaps during your loss (home), you’ve experienced something similar.”

When all that’s left is what matters most, you get clear on priorities.


You don’t need to get rid of everything to simplify life or place value on what’s most important. That’s one heckuva way to get more closet space!

But you can, gradually….

  • Make a list of what you’d hate to live without
  • Try to fit your most important things in one suitcase (people and pets excluded!)
  • Put a red sticky dot on things to give away
  • Hire a professional organizer
  • Dedicate a shelf in your garage for potential cast-off’s
  • Write down what’s in each room of your house (this will create an inventory and clarify what is excess)
  • Schedule a junk hauling guy and work to meet that pickup deadline
  • Ask your adult kids what they’d like to have and give it to them now
  • Select one item each day to get rid of – no free passes allowed!

“It’s in the act of deciding what to remove that you place value on what’s left behind.” – Coco Chanel

Question: Are you in the act of deciding what to remove? Please share your tips in the comments.

Related Article:

7 Things You Can Learn About Habits and Goals


  1. I’m a HUGE believer in down-sizing! I heard financial wizard Susie Ormon say years ago that if we de-clutter and simplify our lives, we can see what is important more clearly. Her suggestion: get a box and go around the house and put 25 items in it that you don’t need, use or want. For example: a sweater that you haven’t worn in the past 3 years. Shoes that you wish you could wear, but know that you have outgrown them and will never be able to fit into them. Just 25 things. Take them to a donation place (goodwill, etc). Don’t put them in your garage for that possible yard sale. They will never go away then. Do this 2X/year. I have done this many times and it works!