Looking for help getting your rooms in order after the new year? Here are some simple tips and ideas to help and how to declutter a room in 20 minutes.

how to declutter a room organize

Raise your hand if you’ve taken down your Christmas decor yet.

Does half a hand count?

I’m almost half-way there.

Normally I’m way more squared away. Normally I’m ahead of the game. Normally I’m making spring wreaths and Valentine hearts and getting the front lawn ready for the Easter Bunny right about now.

But this year?

I’m dragging my Christmas slippers all the way to 2020.


Just between us? I’m dragging my heels because I’m trying to figure out where to put everything. It’s a little overwhelming here at thistlewood right now because even after I put the Christmas away?


how to declutter a room

Clutter is like that last Christmas party guest that won’t leave.

They’ve eaten your cheese dip and knocked an ornament off your tree and ensconced themselves in a chair telling you about their trip to the grand canyon for the fifth time.

You look longingly at the door.

Leave clutter, leave, you tell yourself.

But it never does.

Let’s do this together.

Let’s take charge.

Let’s take control.

Let’s take our houses back twenty minutes at a time….

….and show that cheese-eating, ornament-knocking, grand-canyon visiting clutter to the door.

Here are my very best simple tips on how to declutter a room without getting too overwhelmed.

how to declutter a room winter stuff

how to declutter your home in twenty minutes

1. Start small

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was clutter.

For one week set aside 20 minutes a day.

20 minutes.  That’s easy, right?  20 simple minutes.  Set a timer.  Set your watch.  Set your phone.

Choose the clutter pile that gets on your nerve the most.  The one that makes you shudder when you walk by it.

And then?

Don’t give it any more cheese dip.

Take 10 minutes and sort through that pile.  Throw away papers.  Toss old magazines.  Put bills in a folder in your office or workspace marked bills.

But here’s the key.


And when you are done.  Walk away.  Pat yourself on the back.  Tell yourself how amazing you are.  Call your mom and let her know she can stop by for a visit.

But return again tomorrow to show that clutter pile the door.

how to declutter a room kitchen

2. Baskets are your friend

When learning how to declutter a room, there is one basic adage of organizing.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  The hardest part of that whole idea is figuring out what all the places look like.

I get it.

I understand.  I really, really do.

That’s where baskets come in.

First of all, baskets are cute and pretty and have sides that hold things.

Here are some ideas that I use baskets for.  I use a basket for mail.  I use a basket for the kid’s papers.  I use a basket for random coupons and business cards and tiny pieces of who-knows-what that collect on the counters.  I use a basket for things I need to do.  I use a basket for items I want to donate.  I use a basket for dog supplies.  I use a basket for unfinished projects.

And on and on and on.

Around here everything has a basket.  It all goes in there if I don’t have time to sort through it or deal with it or think about it.

It just hangs out looking cute in a basket until I’m ready.

And then?  When the basket overflows I go back to idea number one and spend 20 minutes on it.

3.  Keep the surfaces clean

In every home, there are a few surfaces that invite clutter to pull up a chair.

I don’t know why certain surfaces get cluttered.  I wish I did because I would be a zillionaire.  The key is figuring out which surfaces attract clutter and focus on keeping them clutter-free.

That’s where the baskets come in.

Every night, I check the surfaces and put the stuff from the surfaces into the baskets.

And then?

When the baskets overflow it’s back to our 20 minutes again.

how to declutter a room

4.  how to declutter a room? Donate

Our house is full of stuff.

Stuff that we don’t really use any more.  Stuff that I walk by and wonder what I should do with it.  Stuff that stopped fitting into our life in 1999.

On the first of every month, I go through the house (some from the basket where I put it waiting to be donated) and gather up two garbage bags of stuff and donate it.

Someone else might need that stuff way more than me.

And my baskets thank me.

how to declutter a room with tags

5.  Be kind to yourself

I think that’s where clutter defeats us.

It’s why so many have tried to show clutter to the door and fail.

We look at the clutter and it overwhelms us and we sigh and look away and tell ourselves that we’ll handle it tomorrow.

Why not make your tomorrow start today?

You got this.

You can do it.

Yes, yes you can.

All you need are 20 minutes and to discover how to declutter a room and a few cute baskets to show clutter the door.

Here’s to an amazing new year. 🙂

PS Once I’ve finished decluttering, I’m going to start working on a few more before and afters like these.

PS  This picture has actually nothing to do with de-cluttering.

Or surfaces.

Or cheese dip.

I just found these two make-up professionals when I was looking for organizing pictures and it made me smile.

I thought it might make you smile, too. 🙂

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  1. Image for Sandy Sandy

    First of all, your daughter are so cute and I have enjoyed watching them grow up through your blog. Secondly, you have made my day. All of your points how to declutter after Christmas have made me want to shout out “Bravo!” Now I know I have learned from the best. Happy 2020🎉

  2. Image for Jenn Jenn

    My husband and I always joke about flat surfaces at our home. It is absolutely incredible how quickly things pile up! "Hey kids, clean off the table before dinner!" Bam, everything is moved to dad's desk! No!!! That's just relocating....that's not cleaning it off! It is a constant battle! I am a basket addict, contained clutter is always better than clutter that is free!! Thanks for the tips!

  3. Image for Carole West Carole West

    From somebody who went Tiny the biggest declutter iip that is really never mentioned is to place yourself on a buying freeze. Took me 15 minutes to put away Christmas and get back to life. It's pretty fantastic when the stuff is removed.. With that being said I know that sounds alien to most. The thing is we probably really need to ask ourselves why we surround ourselves with so much stuff. Decluttering is a great way to gain personal perspective and live healthier. Good Luck!


    I am happy to see Christmas come and equally happy to see it go for another year. I use a combo of storage ottomans and baskets. Like the ottomans as they have lids.

  5. Image for Kris Kris

    I think we need to re-word some Christmas songs. "Oh little house of clutter-dom" or "It's the most cluttery time of the year" or "For unto us some clutter is stacked". Ha. I love the season, but between the food I have made to take somewhere and the food that has been gifted to us .... the envelopes and wrapping paper and tissue paper .... and all the new stuff looking to find a home .... it's a little crazy. I'm mostly there with de-Christmasing, but still have a ways to go. Thanks for your hints!

  6. Image for Nancy McCullough Nancy McCullough

    My Dad used to say Rome wasn’t built in a day... it was built at night on overtime🤪. There a point there.... 20 minutes is a great, manageable target! Thanks for the reminders and the wonder insight and humor you share😘

  7. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    Baskets and trays are my friends! :) Wonderful post!! I'm maybe 1/5 done putting away Christmas. The kitchen is "tinsel-free," but I haven't gotten to the rest. First you have to go to the basement haul up the bins . . . you know how that goes! Thanks for the encouragement! I might just try setting my timer for 20 minutes and hauling up one bin at a time! :)

  8. Image for Kathy Menold Kathy Menold

    It's cold and rainy here in N.C. and I have my annual after the holiday mini flu but I read your blog and took a little time to declutter and organize my earring container. I use a plastic container with lots of little compartments but the number of earrings had gotten out of control. Put some to donate ,tossed some and then put them by color back in the case but only if I put backs on them! All done in 20 minutes and back in my bathroom drawer. Thanks Karianne.

  9. Image for Chloe Chloe

    I love the photo of the girls! Me, I abhor clutter so much that I do not allow it in my home! Now, inside a drawer might be a different story! HA! The Christmas is down, ALL of my Christmas decor has been sorted and packed away, AND two kitchen "junk" drawers (you know, tape, glue, etc.) organized and 6 bag (no less!) donated! Happy New Year and happy uncluttering!

  10. Image for Peg Peg

    I've made every effort to receive ebills and also remove myself from catalog mailings. Most everywhere you can view a catalog on line. It sure helps with keeping clutter at bay! And donating is routine for me. I've also taken to selling odds and ends on Facebook Marketplace. I've had very pleasant experiences so far!!! xoxo

  11. Image for Samantha Light Samantha Light

    Thanks KariAnne, for the tips! That is one of my resolutions as well, to try and get more organized. I often wonder where does all that stuff come from? LOL.... I do like the idea of putting items in baskets and then going thru it once it gets full. Much easier to handle.

  12. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    You are the best, always make me smile, Great post and now i will get started with the baskets. Your girls are the cutest!!

  13. Image for Julie Briones Julie Briones

    Great ideas... For me, I've found that pretty covered boxes work well, they keep the dust out. ;-) Pinned to my Organize It board!


    KariAnne, your gals are adorable! Great advice today! Baskets are my friends, too! Enjoy your day!

  15. Image for Jeannie Jeannie

    But where do you put the BASKETS so they look pretty while concealing the clutter????? I have Christmas pretty well put away but still am finding a gift bag or ornament or towel or something. I have a box (or basket!) for those odds & ends until it's full. Then continue on with my current chore.

  16. Image for Karen Mary Karen Mary

    Well, all the Christmas decor is cleared away! (It's in baskets in the basement, waiting to be sorted properly, probably in 20-minute increments, but still!) I adore the picture of your daughters. It's so precious!

  17. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    I love to set my timer on my microwave; 'cause when it beeps--I'm outta there!!! Anytime you want to show those professionals, you do that 'cause they're growin' up so fast!!!

    1. Image for Ruth Ruth

      I love to use the timer also. If I clean for 30 minutes then I can reward myself by doing something I want to do like read a great novel for 30 min.. My husband and I are older and we decided many years back that we just don't need stuff anymore. If there is something we think we can't live without, then we get it. It has freed us up so much to enjoy the season.

  18. Image for Nancy McCullough Nancy McCullough

    My Dad used to say Rome wasn’t built in a day... it was built at night on overtime🤪. There is a point there.... 20 minutes is a great, manageable target! Thanks for the reminders and the wonder insight and humor you share😘

  19. Image for Deanna Day Young Deanna Day Young

    Good ideas. I know that sometimes baskets end up being a catch all so I have to be careful with that in my house. I try to use the rule, "don't put it down. put it away". Not in a basket but deal with it now. Sometimes that's not do-able but that rule of thumb has saved me a lot of frustration. I love the 20 minutes a day. I know that you have been interviewed by Kathi Lipp (Clutter Free Academy) and her 15-20 minutes a day plan is a great one as well. I love reading your blogs and following you. I got your new book for Christmas and am reading through it now! Love it!! Happy January and here's to less clutter in 2020!

  20. Image for Sevahn Sevahn

    I also love the photo of your daughters. Baskets and decorative boxes help coral our homeless items! I feel much better when I tidy up 15 or 20 minutes at a time. I still have some Christmas decorations to put away--we celebrate Epiphany so the tree stays up until after the 6th of January. I can't wait to see your Valentine's Day and springtime decorations:)

  21. Image for Karen Karen

    LOVED LOVED LOVED your post! What a great reminder that we can do BIG things in LITTLE steps! Having a clutter free home, isn't about having things look "perfect" it is really about MAKING SPACE for the moments that count. But we have to create the space and slow down to notice those magical moments like the one you caught of your daughters. Beacause, really....isn't that what life is all about? Finding the magic in the mundane. That is JOY!

  22. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    LOL Gotta spruce up when you go out driving with your new license! Love it! And love all the rest...as always! ❤

  23. Image for Julie M. Julie M.

    Yes! I've really been working on tidying areas that have been bugging me forever! So many times...it ends up just takes a few minutes to clear and area, putting each thing in its place...but getting to it takes time...and motivation. Thank you! ❤️ I'm looking forward to getting some things done today (including taxes...bluhhh), and then relaxing, and checking out the linked posts this evening. Happy organizing, Julie M.

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