This slide show from Good Housekeeping had a few excellent points.
Prevention: what good does it do to get rid of stuff if you only accumulate more? Find a way to refuse more stuff. For me, that was giving away three items for every unnecessary one I bought, or only getting something if I had a specific item to replace that was worn out or unsafe. (ie the blender that started shooting sparks out from under it and smelled like it was burning)
Buying organizing products: How many would agree, when you buy boxes and crates and organizers, sometimes you end up with more clutter, not less? Go through things and get rid of what you don’t need. Then get organizers for the things you want to keep. Trust the person who just gave away 10 plastic organizer boxes and has more that will be going. Also, organizers aren’t good luck charms or magical creations. If you buy them to get organized but don’t use them properly to get or stay organized after buying them, you will only be more overwhelmed.
Undesignated space: Oh, yes. The table. The chair. The nightstand. Give your furniture and corners purpose. If you must have an undesignated space, make one SMALL undesignated space and clean it out when it gets full. Or stop filling it at all. See how long you can go without refilling it and reward yourself for making the goal you set. To me, this goes hand in hand with the next item on their list: putting things somewhere “for now”. The “for now” items go in my undesignated space. Forever. Again, if I have one small cabinet or box that’s undesignated “for now”, I can prevent the table, chair, nightstand, and floor from becoming undesignated. And if everything “for now” is in one box, I can pick it up and move items easily to their true homes later.
Keeping things because they seem useful: This was my downfall, and my salvation. I kept everything because it might have a use someday. That skirt could become quilt squares or curtains. That spatula might be needed if I ever melted the other one… or the other five, as it turned out. Realizing it was more useful to discard what I didn’t need immediately and stop worrying about what I might need someday was a large motivation for starting the decluttering process. Sure, those things might be useful. But they would be just as useful in someone else’s closet.