It’s funny. People who know how easily I can throw anything out think I am devoid of all feeling. I actually think it is a question of priorities. You see, I would rather have less clutter and be less stressed around my family. Yup, I will even gladly give away items of real value to create an atmosphere of real value.

Thankfully, there is a source in the Talmud that backs me up: “Shelosha marchivin da’ato shel adam, dira na’ah . . .” (Berachot 57b). The Talmud lists three things that “expand a person’s heart,” and one of them is a pleasant home.When we are in a I will even gladly give away items of real value to create an atmosphere of real valuebeautiful surrounding, one that is devoid of clutter, our heart feels calmer, and we feel capable of doing so much more.

Clutter is just a pile of delayed decision-making. It gives us the unconscious notion that we don’t have a handle on the fundamentals of our lives. Hear me loud and clear: Get rid of your cluttered environment! It is going to suck the happiness and empowerment out of your day.

You see that pile of unopened mail on the counter? Is it getting higher each day? Are new piles sprouting up all over the place? Do yourself a favor, set the timer for five minutes, pull out the most important items, and chuck the rest—yes, even the $5 coupon to the store you’ve never been to. You need a clean slate. Don’t be held hostage by junk mail and other clutter. It’s just not worth it.

Clutter follows the same basic rules as matter. Nothing ever truly goes away; it simply changes form. So, you need to be militant about moving the clutter out of your front door. Develop a healthy obsession with garbage cans. And use these tips to help you finally conquer that clutter and free up your physical and mental space.

1) Give items away: Clearing out the clutter can not only reduce your stress, it can help make a real difference in someone else’s life. If you don’t need it or aren’t using it, there is someone out there who does need it and will use it. Stop looking at clutter as a negative thing; turn the situation on its head, and embrace it as a golden opportunity to do a mitzvah! Pre-loved suits can help a poor woman land an interview, extra shorts can help a child quadruple his wardrobe, and books that Pre-loved suits can help a poor woman land an intervieware no longer read can enhance a school library. If a dear friend asked you for clothing in your size for a friend in need, you would have no trouble finding 20 items in your closet that you don’t wear. So, sort through those items and take them to a consignment store or charity shop. You’ll get a double buzz from doing a mitzvah as well as from having the empty space in your closet.

2) Respect the lifespan: Everything, from the robin singing in your garden, to your car, to the new shoes you bought last month, has a lifespan. When their time is up, be kind and allow them to exit gracefully. Alternatively, give them a makeover to help them last an additional few years, almost like Botox for the cluttered soul. The dried flower arrangement from your wedding was a romantic reminder of your special day. But it has now been 12 years, and it looks awful sitting there on your dresser. Let it go, and fill the space with a happy photo from your wedding day instead. Same goes for the old, chipped flowerpot in the back yard. It has been sitting there for at least 10 years, and it serves only to remind you of all the other clutter in your life. Let it go. Nothing should stay anywhere in your vicinity that brings you down.

3) Unwanted gifts: The very first step in receiving a gift is to sincerely thank the giver. Once you have communicated your appreciation for their thought, time and energy, then your responsibility to the giver ends. After that, the item is yours to do whatever you want with it. Unwanted gifts can be exchanged, regifted or repurposed. Be honest, be grateful and be creative. If you really think that the pin your grandmother gave you is hideous, put it away in the safe, and reassess your next step in a few years. If it has already been five years since she gave it to you, and your tastes haven’t changed, then get the Many local auction houses will give you a complimentary appraisalitem appraised. Many local auction houses will give you a complimentary appraisal in the hope that you will sell the item through them later.

4) One-in-one-out: Out shopping, and found a pair of shoes that will change your life? By all means, buy them and enjoy them. But make sure you pass on another pair of shoes from your closet that hasn’t seen the light of day in years. Same too for sweaters, gloves, swim suits, children’s toys, and many, many other things. You won’t be drowning in clutter if you are strict about stemming the tide of stuff. So, next time you find the perfect shirt, before you buy it, mentally decide which shirt in your closet is going to move on to greener pastures now.

It can be tough to let go of things. There is always that little voice inside you saying, “But I might need it someday.” That day has not come, my friend. So, say goodbye to all those things that have been weighing you down, and say hello to a new, lighter future.

Things to get rid of now

  • Any shirt with stains
  • Any book that makes you feel bad about yourself
  • Any open package of food that has been open for more than two months
  • Spices from two years ago
  • Clothes that make you feel bad about your body
  • Linens/towels that you wouldn’t want to use
  • Any broken appliance that would cost more to repair than to replace
  • Any items that friends have asked you to store for them—give them back
  • Clothing that is not your size
  • Shoes that have been worn through and cannot be repaired