Eliminating Clutter [Flow Chart]

I’m making the move to a (much nicer) new apartment next week and am in the process of going through all of my belongings. By my count, this is 8 moves in 8 years. I’m getting pretty good at getting rid of all of the clutter each time so I don’t need to lug stuff around that I don’t use. Even if you don’t move as frequently as I do, going through your belongings once a year can be a very beneficial exercise. Not only do you free up some space and minimize clutter, but you can also make some extra cash and/or give your unused stuff to people who really need it.

Below is a quick flow chart I put together of the process I use to decide whether or not I should keep something. I built it using the awesome (free) web app Lovely Charts – a big improvement from other flow charting software I’ve used.

I’m interested to hear what you guys think. How frequently do you do a “Spring cleaning”? Do you go through a similar process? Did I leave something out? What do you do differently?

Eliminating Clutter Flow Chart

14 comments on Eliminating Clutter [Flow Chart]

  1. Oke says:


    I constantly go through this process so many times. In the past month I have looked at my things around my apartment and simply can’t think of anything else to get rid of: I have done the donation thing; I have flat out thrown stuff away; and I have a pile of stuff that I was going to take to my parent’s house, but am going to give it to the homeless around downtown.

    For clothes I am quick to get rid of something I haven’t been wearing for some time. For electronics I keep them, until someone says they want it (a hassle for me to put on ebay). Books were the hardest to get rid of, but slowly realized books are heavy, and I don’t look back at them as I thought I would.

    Now that I think of it, I’m going to get rid of my vacuum cleaner I have used 2 times in 7 months. I’ll just buy a heavy duty broom and sweep every other week.

    I think it is a good idea to live life as a minimalist, it frees the mind to do other things that are more important and clutter free.

    I think I am going to go back and push myself to throw away more stuff. You should do a before and after pick of your place!

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Oke, I love the line “I think it is a good idea to live life as a minimalist, it frees the mind to do other things that are more important and clutter free.” I constantly try to think “Do I REALLY need this?” every time I buy something. More stuff means more distractions…for me anyway.

  2. The real trick is adding more nodes to the root..

    Should I buy this?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Great point Billy. I’ve only really begun questioning all of my purchases in the past year or so. I find it very beneficial (and cost-effective) to think pretty hard about how much use something is going to get. A “should I buy this?” flow chart would be awesome. You should do one up 🙂

  3. Adam,

    What did you use to make your flowchart? I’m using http://www.gliffy.com but something simpler would suit me better because I have very basics needs.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Aaron – I used Lovely Charts. Free and simple. I looked at Gliffy but it seemed like a little much for my needs. Lovely Charts is really really easy to use and very intuitive.

  4. nino says:

    great article adam, thumbs up…

  5. Jason Kiesau says:

    Very nice. Very easy. I just cleaned out my closet and took two large garbage bags of clothes to Goodwill.

    Feels like a weight has been lifted . . .

    • Adam McFarland says:

      That’s awesome Jason. I always feel that way too. Once we completed the move I was shocked at how much space I had in my closets and dressers because of how much stuff I got rid of! You realize you really don’t need most of the crap you’ve accumulated.

  6. valeri says:

    i have something similar to attack the toys in the kids’ room and playroom but this is an easily adaptable chart that can be customized. thanks for sharing!

  7. Sandra says:

    Love this flow chart. I am a professional organizer. This is what was in my head but I never committed it to paper in quite this fashion.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks Sandra, I’m glad you like it. As a professional organizer I’m sure you see some crazy amounts of clutter!

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