3 tips for decluttering your life in 2021

·3 min read

After a trying year and no official end to the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, these experts say the start of the new year is a great opportunity to make your home life more organized and manageable.

Heather Knittel, owner of Burnaby-based Good Riddance Professional Organizing Solutions, says her clients are usually people who are moving or trying to downsize. Despite the pandemic, business has remained robust throughout the year.

"People have been sitting in their homes and having to look at their clutter constantly every single day has sort of motivated many people to try and tackle getting rid of some stuff themselves," Knittel said.

She and other experts have a few tips to make this process easier.

Use a friend or family member to keep you focused

Knittel says one of the issues with going through stuff is there's a story attached to everything we own. She says working with a family member or roommate can help you stay focused on the task.

"They might not talk you out of keeping it, but try to logically bring you around to the realization that you're not keeping it for the right reasons. If you're holding onto something and you're actually not using it or if you really don't want it. Or sometimes people don't even like things that they keep," she said.

Break down big tasks into smaller ones

Knittel says it's easy to get overwhelmed with trying to tackle everything at once. Just work room by room, or on one area of the room, she advised.

The same philosophy can be applied to the digital realm, says Angela Crocker of Port Moody, author of Declutter Your Data.

Crocker says on average, North American families have about 41 terabytes of files — including social media, documents and photographs.

She recommends creating an organization system for any incoming files and setting aside time to tackle past files when possible. Make a decision about what kind of storage system you're going to use and make sure that each file — like a child's homework assignment or minutes from a work meeting — have distinct places to go.

"Don't do it all in one sitting. You'll hate your computer and your mind will boggle. I really encourage that people do a few minutes a day," Crocker said.

Keep time in mind

Crocker says organization — like getting your inbox down to zero — shouldn't take so much time that you're not getting anything else done.


Linda Chu, a Vancouver professional organizer, says procrastination — and the fear of failure — can be a daunting obstacle. She recommends using a timer to focus on an unpleasant organizational chore instead of putting it off for hours.

"Well maybe it's only 15 minutes or half an hour when that timer goes off, but you've made a commitment for half an hour ... that means you've succeeded in a 30-minute task and not [made it] an 8-hour task.

Chu also recommends a little grace, especially given the past year.

"Recognize that there are a lot of stressors among us and take that time to say it's not going to be perfect and things are going to get messed up. And keep on plodding on."