Previous: 10 Cheap & Easy Halloween LIFE HACKS!
Next: Cheap Flights, Packing Lists, & Suitcase Hacks: 21 ESSENTIAL Travel Tips!



View count:119,803
Last sync:2024-06-09 12:00
Unorganized, cluttered, or overwhelmed?! Let's talk organization tips: closet organization, home organization, conquering your mess, and generally making your space more awesome!

Support How to Adult on Patreon at

HOW TO ADULT Posters Now Available from DFTBA Records!

Peter Walsh's books:

How to Stop Procrastinating video:

Merchandise from Mike (including posters about books and "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost"):

Other organizational resources:

"How to Adult" is a "life skills" edutainment channel brought to you by Executive Producers Hank Green and John Green. Subscribe for new videos every week!


Created, Written, and Hosted by:
Emma Mills & Mike Martin
Mike is also a Young Adult novelist. His book, THE END GAMES, is available at all online booksellers, including
Indiebound ( ) and Amazon: (

Directed and Edited by:
T. Michael (Mike) Martin

Executive Producers:
Hank & John Green

So we think one of the most important things about adulthood is knowing what to focus on. In our procrastination video we talked about some tips for increasing mental focus, but you don't have to be a guest star on Hoarders to know that physical clutter can quickly overwhelm as well. So let's talk about some simple tips for decluttering, simplifying, and making your home a little more awesome.

Tip 1: As with so many things in adulthood, it helps to have a compelling "why". So ask yourself, why do you want to have a neater space? What will it mean to you?

Will it help you have a greater sense of control? Be more comfortable having friends over? Make you happier to come home?

Without a "why", decluttering can feel like another obligation on a to do list, when really, it can be viewed as something you're doing for yourself to evoke a positive change in your life.

Tip 2: If you live with someone else, it can help to bring them in on the project before it starts. They don't necessarily have to participate, though it's awesome if they do, but you should let them know why you want to do this. If they're resistant, focus on the things you can control, for instance, your own possessions.

Tip 3: Don't launch yourself at the container store. We know it's tempting to go all Liz Lemon and buy every translucent bin in the tri-county area, but to quote Web Md, "Getting organized does not start out with a shopping trip".

Shop for storage item only after you've done some decluttering. You'll have a better idea of what you need, and you'll be less likely to become overwhelmed.

Tip 4: Break it down, now! Odds are, your home didn't get cluttered in one day, so if you try to do all the things at once, you my become overwhelmed, and do none of the things. So simplify your simplification. Focus on only one space for a finite amount of time. Even five minutes of work, done consistently, adds up quickly.

And when you're done, acknowledge and celebrate your victory, and come back the next day, or the next weekend, with that momentum. If you're getting in the groove, it's okay to take things quickly, just be super-doops careful not to get frustrated or overwhelmed.

Tip 5: Get a box or bag marked "outward bound" because...

Tip 6: It's go time! As you're clearing out certain areas, it can be tough to decide what's gong out the door. One easy way to start: dump the duplicates! To again quote Web Md, "Why have six hairbrushes, or seventeen coffee mugs?". A simple rule: one in, one out. Anytime you get something new, get rid of something like it that's old.

As you're sorting non-duplicate items, here's a tip from Zen Habits. Ask yourself, "Do I love and use this?". If the answer is yes, give it an effective home. For example, put items in the room where they'll be used, and group similar items together. If the answer is no, into the outward bound container it goes.

Other quick tips: play numbers games. For instance, try what calls the 12-12-12 challenge. Find 12 items to donate, 12 to throw away, and 12 to move to another home.

Peter Walsh, Oprah's decluttering guru, recommends a similar technique, where for every 4 items you keep, you get rid of one item that is similar.

And of course, remember the old 80/20 rule. For instance, most of us only wear 20% of the clothes we own, 80% of the time. So take stock of what you really use as you're making these decisions.

What about sentimental objects? You don't want to throw all of these items out, of course, and some of these decisions are really personal. But for some items, perhaps there's a middle ground. For example you could digitize old pictures. Just make sure to back them up first.

Step 7: Transition your possessions peacefully to their next life. It can certainly be tough to get rid of things because we attach emotion to them. For example, I, for one, sometimes feel as if stuffed animals have feelings. I hope I'm not the only one. Right? Cause like... I'll get sad-talky if I do this [laugh]. If it makes it easier, you could take pictures of the things. It's important to keep things that honor our past, but remember what else it taught us. Sometimes, if you want to bring something new into your life, you've got to let something go.

Some things will simply have to be thrown away. You can donate some items to a thrift store, which can have the added benefit of the warm-and-fuzzies. If you'd like to make a little cash, you could sell things on EBay, or Craigslist, you could also sell things to Amazon, which is another quick alternative.

Whatever you do, remember tip 8: don't beat yourself up it this takes a while! Human brains tend to underestimate how long things will take, so just keep swimming.

And that's all we've got for you today, if you have any awesome decluttering or organizational tips, please leave them for us in the comments section below, we would love to hear from you. In the meantime, I have been decluttering my mind palace, in search of a place to store the perfect catchphrase. And I am working on it. And I will get back to you. ASAP.