How To Declutter Faster Using The Four-Box Method

four box decluttering methodWe all want a clean and tidy house, but often have no clue where to begin to get there. I’ve found that attempting to tackle my physical clutter has allowed me to simplify all other areas of my life, and has helped me turn my home into a clean and organized oasis.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I’m a firm believer that simpler is better, which is why I’m a huge fan of this four-box decluttering method when it comes to tackling the mess in my own home. So, let’s keep this simple and make progress in the places we need to.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Try Out The Four-Box Decluttering Method

Try Out The Four Box Decluttering Method

There are many different approaches to decluttering, but the four-box method has been proven itself to be a favorite for many people because it’s so simple. With a process as chaotic as decluttering, the best way to tackle your mess and turn your house into an organized and decluttered haven is a simple, easy approach!

Find four boxes and label them:

the throwaway box

The Throw Away Box

The throw away box covers items you want to discard that you don’t feel right about selling or donating. These items can be broken, damaged, or no longer in working order.

One thing I try to consider when I’m deciding whether to sell, donate, or toss an item is if I would feel good getting it as a gift or a hand-me-down. If I wouldn’t want to receive it, someone else probably won’t either, so I toss it.

the giveaway box

The Give Away Box

A huge aspect of adopting minimalism is giving your belongings a second life. Fill this box with items like old toys, clothes that no longer fit, or extra supplies you have no use for. There are so many things you can sell, donate, or give away as gifts to friends and family to make their lives easier.

the keep box

The Keep Box

Having an awareness of what to keep when decluttering can be a challenge. This box should be your smallest, as the purpose of a decluttering session is to let things go.

However, don’t force yourself to let go of things you aren’t quite ready to part with. Be intentional with this box and make sure the items that fill it have an active purpose in your life.

the storage box

The Storage Box

The purpose of the storage box is for stuff that will have a purpose in your life in the future or have a purpose in your life in specific seasons. These aren’t items you’re getting rid of, but also aren’t items that serve an active purpose in your daily experience.

It’s okay to hold on to your childhood books, your sentimental memorabilia, or those vinyl records you love to dig out of the closet around the holidays. Try to keep this category small so as to not fill your attics, closets, and other storage spaces with clutter.

how to declutter like a minimalist

Things To Keep In Mind With The Four-Box Decluttering Method

Things To Keep In Mind With The Four-Box Decluttering Method

Here are some things to remember as you’re working to create the smoothest, most effective decluttering experience with the four-box decluttering method:

You Don’t Have To Declutter Everything At Once

You Dont Have To Declutter Everything At Once

When I get in the zone, it’s easy for me to get obsessed with trying to use every ounce of my time as efficiently as possible. This is great in theory, but it can cause burnout. These days, I try to tackle my decluttering process in small chunks to conserve my mental energy and maximize my effectiveness when decluttering.

declutter challenge

You’ll Have The Memories Without The Stuff

Youll Have The Memories Without The Stuff

It’s easy to get bogged down in the decluttering process with sentimental items. Keep in mind that you can still keep those cherished memories without hanging onto all of the physical stuff.

With items that are especially hard to let go of, I put them in storage and then set a time to come back to them when I’m out of the decluttering hustle mentality. That way, I can make the decision to keep it or get rid of it with a clear head and a fresh mental state.

saving cherished memories

Only Give Away What You Would Want Yourself

Only Give Away What You Would Want Yourself

Sometimes minimalists tend to feel wrong about throwing a ton of items away, especially when trying to consider the needs of others and live a low or no-waste life. However, people don’t want to receive things that are broken, unhygienic, or no longer work.

This may seem backwards but, like I mentioned before, you don’t want to donate or give things away as gifts that you would be offended to receive or that are unusable. If you feel weird about throwing so much out, try an alternate method of discarding things like composting food scraps or recycling broken tech.

only give away what you would want to receive yourself

Some Items Have Temporary Purpose

Some Items Have Temporary Purpose

Just because it was valuable at one time doesn’t necessarily mean you need to keep it around now. Just like life, our stuff has seasons. It’s okay to let things go of things that once had invaluable purpose in your life but no longer serves you in the present.

declutter like a minimalist

Your Turn!

  • How will you use the four-box decluttering method this week?
  • What areas of your home will you tackle with the four-box method?
  1. This is great! I keep a running box in my bedroom closet and then as it gets full, I separate it into those same basic categories. It is tough to put things in a “throw away” box sometimes, as I think of it sitting in a landfill. But I know if I don’t toss it, then the shelter or thrift store that I take it to will have to, so that makes it a little easier.

  2. Hi Ryan! Loved your easy to follow format and style.

    I do something similar to this, but add a 5th box with a 6 months in advance date written on it for things I just can’t let go–that no longer serve me. If, after 6 months I can still remember what’s in the box and still want it, I take that item out. Otherwise it goes straught into my car and to a charity I feel good about supporting. Works for me!

  3. i used the 4 box method for that drawer which I had a bunch of old school things, math books, barely used notebooks notebooks, ect.

Leave a Reply