Toss Out 25 Things – 4 Guidelines for Clearing the Clutter

Toss Out 25 Things

Today I’m talking about living with less, or for some of you—much less. There are things that we all have stuffed behind closed doors, hidden inside our drawers, laying under our beds, thrown onto our shelves, stacked up in our cupboards, crowding our counters, expiring in our freezers, hiding on top of our fridges, and squeezed into our jam-packed closets. In other words, we have an excess of junk.

Cleaning out my daughter’s room, I was reminded of those times when I’ve seen doctors holding 20 pounds of body fat in their hands while the audience looks on in disgust. This is the equivalent to ugly fat, the only difference being that it’s “lifestyle fat.”

Our society gives so much attention to eating lean and shedding body fat, but little attention is made to living lean and climbing out of the pit of lifestyle obesity.

A few years back I went to Jamaica with my husband. The trip was a life-changing experience. I had never witnessed miles upon miles of poverty stricken homes before, but that week I did. My heart went out to those people when I saw that many were living in shacks no bigger, and less accommodating than my garage.

But during my stay there I witnessed something else. These people were dressed well. I didn’t come across one person whose clothes weren’t clean and well pressed, nor did I witness a beaten down culture. They were happy and content people who took much care with the little they had.

All I could think of on the way home was how much I wanted to purge my junk.

Shortly after that, I was inspired by a book called, “Throw out Fifty Things,” by Gail Blanke. Gail encourages readers to go into every room of their house and get rid of things that have been hanging around for years. It might be an old tooth paste lid or the wrong shade of nail polish; it might be a jacket from 1997 or a pair of shoes from last summer. All of these unnecessary items are cluttering our closets, our drawers, and our life.

So I held an experiment of my own and asked my daughter to toss out 25 things. Within a few minutes my dining room table was full of stuffed animals, old shoes and a few broken toys. Less than fifteen minutes of work, and her bedroom already felt different.

I challenge you to try this today. Start with 25 things. It doesn’t take long to toss out 25 things, but it does make a world of difference. And if you’re anything like me you’ll get back to work tossing out 25 more, again and again.

Here are 4 Guidelines

1. Hold onto things if you must for sentimental reasons, but if you’re not using the item, either throw it away (if it’s garbage) or give it away. A lighter load will bring a sense of peace to your home.

2. Keep things that you find pretty or useful. If it’s not pretty enough to display and it has no use to you, why do you hold on to it?

3. If you have to think about it for a while, you probably don’t need the item.

4. Don’t feel guilty about getting rid of junk. Remember that there are plenty of charity organizations that can resell used items. Think of it as a donation.

Eliminating junk is one lesson I try to teach my children. We can clean the house daily so things appear tidy, but if we keep shoving more junk into our drawers and our closets, there has to come a time when we say “Enough—it’s time to lessen the load!” Or better yet, “Stop buying so much.”

Spend about fifteen minutes going through one room. That’s it—one room/25 things. Now times that by the number of rooms you have and you’ll see just how much of a difference tossing out 25 things can make to one family.

My kids definitely had a lot of garbage the first time we did this, but I noticed that they were more than ready to part with these items. One of our finds were two Build-A-Bears that we brought over to their little cousins, and they love them!

Once the kids started tossing out 25 things it turned into more like 50 for some, which was their choice, not mine. All I asked my family is simply this: “Toss out 25 things.” That’s good enough for now, we’ll tackle the rest later!

You are loved by an almighty God,

The Time-Warp Wife

This article is an excerpt from my book, The Good Wife’s Guide: Embracing Your Role as a Help Meet. It’s only $2.99 on Kindle!

P.S. Visit Lisa at Club31Women today where you’ll find the first post in a week-long marriage series called, “Summer Marriage Splash!” Lisa, myself, and three other authors will be sharing something encouraging and inspiring for your marriage each day.

Five days. Five authors. Five inspiring posts.

We’re meeting on Lisa’s blog today, and then we’re back on my blog tomorrow. See you then!


  • Nash

    Too funny! I did this last week. I tossed more than 25 things though. Some people thought I was moving…LOL It felt GREAT!!! Less is so much more 🙂

  • Teresa

    I like the term “lifestyle obesity”. I own a used book and music shop so I have lots of opportunities to see the hidden corners of people’s homes where they stash the stuff that weighs them down. Because of what I do for a living, sometimes it’s hard to manage our own clutter.

  • Judy Smith

    Last fall I sorted through the winter clothes – 10 hangers at a time. Tried on anything where fit was questionable. Many things ended as rags for hubby’s garage and many bags of good clothes were donated to our local thrift store. Repeated the process with spring and summer clothes. Recently donated unused shoes (new) to church; Pastor was collecting for homeless. Less definitely is better! It is much easier to keep the closet organized. I plan to sort through again next month.

  • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    I love the way you end your posts with the reminder that we are loved by an almighty God! Thank you for that. This post is so encouraging to me because I realize that I am holding onto things out of fear. Our income isn’t a fixed amount that I can depend on (or if we will even have income each month). I want to simplify by getting rid of things, but then I fear that I may need them and that getting rid of stuff will cost me more in the end. For this reason, I so appreciate you sharing your Jamaica experience. It was a great reminder to me that we really only need a few simple things in life. Thanks for another great post!

  • Gabriella

    I think #1 justifies circular reasoning, which led to the clutter in the first place. “I don’t need or use it, but it has sentimental value so I’m going to put it right back where it was.” I think the lesson here needs to be more about tightening the filter on sentimental value, and defining real vs. perceived sentimental value.

  • Ann : )

    This is something I’ve been working on this and it feels so good to share. Can be a bit overwhelming with 45 years of our stuff, kids stuff, and things we’ve inherited. Sometimes it is really tough to get others on board. Thanks for the encouragement and nudge.

  • LeeAnne, Style N Season


    I wrote how I edit my wardrobe in this post http://stylenseason.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-simple-gals-journal-notes-from-my.html and realize one thing: a woman CAN have TOO many clothes! I also edited my shoe and purse collection, getting rid of six to pair shoes at once, and as many bags. I gave some to the local helps that I have around the community, and I felt soooo much better!

    Thank you for inspiring me to “edit” more! Let’s do this together! Nobody want to become possesed by their possessions, especially junk possession!

    Visit me:
    LeeAnne, Style N Season

  • Becky

    What a good reminder! I’ve already started the process of getting rid of stuff at the beginning of the year, but I’ve hit a lull. I need to get busy! 🙂

  • Cato

    I love this! I started decluttering my home when I realized all this unused stuff was even clogging up my spiritual life. It was sucking time and energy.
    If you have a hard time throwing away items with (some) sentimental value, ask yourself if it really is the sentimental value or just feelings of guilt (that ugly vase from that sweet dear aunt of yours) that keeps you from tossing it. And if it is sentimental value indeed, consider taking some nice photos of it and tossing the item anyway.

  • Carol

    Thank you so much for your encouragement today. Kids came home and I told them they needed to clean and bring 25 things to me, one did 10 and my daughter did 25 and ended up with a garbage bag of garbage plus a bag and a half for giveaway. Then she said mom its your turn so we cleaned out the desk and half a bag of papers garbage. We are on a roll.. praising God tonight for less things 😉

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