Janet Jackson’s Guide to Decluttering

What have you done for me lately?

How do you let go of

  • old college textbooks,
  • expensive clothes that don’t fit,
  • craft supplies for a hobby that no longer interests you, or
  • exercise equipment that is only used for a clothes hanger?

You have to ask a tough question. In the words of Janet Jackson,

“What have you done for me lately?”

I love the conversation between Janet and Paula Abdul at the beginning of the music video:

As you go through your stuff, ask the question, “Do you really like it that much?”

And maybe you’ll say, “Yes, honey, I love it. It is fine. It does a lot of nice things for me.”

“I know it used to do nice stuff for you, but what has it done for you late-ly?”

Make your stuff earn it’s space. If it’s from an earlier season in your life and you no longer use it or love it, let it go. Don’t carry it from one home to the next like overpacked luggage. Make more room for the life you have right now! (Oo-ooh yeah!)
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. This is great!!! The father person in our house really battles to part with stuff!!! But humming this along might just help! Fabulous idea. I hope you and your babe are doing well.

    se7en´s last post…This Week (7 September) at Se7en…

  2. Love it! Thanks… a little inspiration goes a long way :)

    angelvalerie´s last post…following up on good intentions

  3. LOL. I completely agree with stuff earning it’s keep. We pay for the space, why should stuff get to control it?

    Emily @ Under$1000PerMonth´s last post…Introducing Our Apartment

  4. I like Janet’s tip for decluttering! (Well, really your tip!) You inspired me to give a couch and two chairs to the Disabled Veterans. Surely, in this economy–someone needs them worse than I do. I’m trying to empty my house while I’m living in it. (I figure less clutter will make it easier to sell, too!!)

    mrs. e´s last post…And it is over

  5. This is so funny, not exactly what I expected to see at Small Notebook! But I love Janet – I also love a simple, decluttered home!


    steadymom´s last post…Losing Control

  6. What a great way to put it! I think I’ll hang on to this idea as I shop as well, especially garage sales… Now what will this old scratched up wooden table do for me? Will I refinish it… really? Or will it sit in a closet until I think of Janet and put it in my own garage sale?

    Thanks for sharing :)

    Mallory´s last post…Forty Five Weeks

  7. Hilarious! I guess I will make a plan to get rid of crafts that I intended to do, but have sat around for about 7 years and moved from home to home. Thanks for this perspective.

  8. brilliant.

    not that I’ve come to expect anything less!

    The Nester´s last post…An Inexpensive Pot Rack

  9. What a humorous way to get a great point home! Now every time I hear about Janet Jackson, I’m going to be in the mood to unclutter. :)

  10. SO cute and yet SO true!!!!

    That is how I got rid of the clothes in my closet…. OH GOODNESS… It worked

    Jennifer´s last post…Wordless Wednesday: Munchkin

  11. I think you may have just convinced me to donate my beautiful armoire that inexplicably is not selling on craigslist (even though it is well priced and I included pictures!).

    Juice´s last post…I Don’t Know What Came Over Me

  12. Sandra Gonzales says:

    That’s a great song to declutter to.

  13. I’d sell the clothes to a consignment shop and the sports equipment to a Sports equipment consignment shop. I agree with getting rid of things that don’t earn their keep – but I’d like to make a little money off of the stuff, you know as rent.

    Condo Blues´s last post…Grow Flowers in Old Lawn Chairs

  14. I so have to show this video to my sister, we cleaned her entire room out this weekend, two days, 5 garbage bags, 8 boxes of recycling and 6 bags of donations later we could see the floor again…she had a hard time letting things go… that video could have added some humour to the ridiculous amount of times I asked her when the last time she wore something was.

  15. I ask myself that question everytime I’m decluttering my house. I have a huge problem with junk drawers…I have them all over the house. Whenever I’m looking for something, and can’t find it in the drawer, I start pitching things. The funny thing is, there is never really anything in the drawers worth saving. I have to hit myself in the forehead and ask, “What were you thinking?”

    Amanda´s last post…The Daily Grind: Routines That Keep Life Moving

  16. I am so laughing over here! That is perfect. Gotta love Miss Jackson.

    dutchgirl´s last post…Can we talk Barbie?

  17. I so need to “let go” of the craft supplies I have held onto for over 20 years. I keep thinking some day I will find a use for them.

    don_mae´s last post…Tuesday’s Tutorial: “Cross-Over” Macrame Belt

  18. Fantastic.

    I’m already singing it in my head just thinking of my scrap-booking supplies.

    Anna´s last post…The Second Day

  19. Pure genius – I love this idea; thank you so much and the track just happens to be a great motivational decluttering track too!

    Thanks so much; I had hit a slump with decluttering, but now I’m right back up there!

    Mrs Green´s last post…Cut your carbon footprint by 10% with 10:10

  20. I’m going to have that song in my head all day! But it will surely inspired me to add a few more items to the stash in our trunk destined for the Salvation Army thrift shop. Living in a small, urban apartment keeps us tight in terms of extra stuff. Each season change is a chance to evaluate the usefulness of the items in the closets, drawers, and cabinets!

    Emily´s last post…Mushy bananas

  21. Bwahaha, that’s great. Maybe I need to get some de-cluttering done on this great Saturday! Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  22. This is such a great reminder and I hope this thought runs through my head every time I try to hang on to something “just because I paid a lot of money for it.”

    Tracey´s last post…Wrapping Paper

  23. That is so hilariously true. Way to make decluttering fun!

    Meg´s last post…Giveaway Time!!!!

  24. I started decluttering yesterday, before I stumbled upon this. This just makes me want to dig deeper and keep going, though! Great post!

    Gina @ The Shabby Chic Cottage´s last post…Treasure Hunting

  25. Just decluttered my kids’ dresser and closet after reading some simple tips at lifeasmom.com, but I love how you pegged me with your questions about old clothes and books. With a move coming up I’m having to face the music and who wouldn’t want it to be this classic from Janet?