So you know that you want to start decluttering your home. You know that decluttering will improve your wellbeing, and you really want to get rid off all that excess stuff!
But where do you start?
Starting any new project can feel daunting. And if you already feel overwhelmed by your clutter it can feel doubly hard.
The good news is, with a little bit of planning, and a few simple strategies, you CAN achieve your decluttering goals and move towards creating a calm, ordered home you love.
Before you start
1. Think about what you want to achieve
Do you want to tackle your whole house? Or are there some specific rooms or areas you want to focus on such as a bedroom, living room, garage or basement?
If you do want to tackle your whole house, it can be more manageable to break it down room by room.
2. Decide on how to get the clutter out of your house
Clutter is the stuff that is broken, worn out, doesn’t fit, isn’t used, is no longer loved, isn’t played with, or doesn’t suit your lifestyle anymore. Remember, the aim is NOT to organize it, the aim is to get the stuff out of your home.
So where is your clutter going to go? It’ll either need to be tossed, recycled or donated. For items that can be donated, decide which local organization or charity shops you’ll take them to. If you have larger items, can they be collected?
If you are thinking of selling an item (or items) think carefully about whether it is really worth the time and energy of listing the item, responding to queries, waiting in for people to come and view it or collect it, or having to make a trip to the post office to post it.
You may decide that for some items it is worth it. But you may decide that many items aren’t worth the time and energy and would be better donated to your local charity shop.
3. Schedule time
How much time do you have to devote to your decluttering project? Can you set aside blocks of time such as an afternoon or a weekend? Or would it be better for you to utilize small chunks of time in your day?
You definitely don’t need a large block of time set aside to start decluttering. In fact, you’ll be less likely to become overwhelmed if you work on it for short periods of time more frequently, rather than in big chunks.
The important thing is to dedicate some time and put it in your calendar or planner.
4. Write down your plan
When you know what you want to achieve, how you will get rid of your clutter, and when you will declutter, write it all down.
It’s scientifically proven that writing down your goals and plans will make it so much easier to achieve them!
5. Gather supplies
Before you get started, gather the supplies you need such as garbage bags for things to toss, boxes or bags to pack things up for donation or recycling, and sticky notes and pens for labelling them.
Have these questions in mind
As you begin decluttering, you’ll need to make choices about what you’ll get rid of and what you’ll keep. If you’re unsure whether you should let something go, ask yourself these questions.
1. Do I need it?
Do you really need it? Does this suit your lifestyle now?
This is a useful question for duplicates. Do you really need 3 vegetable peelers or 2 cheese graters? Choose 1 and donate the extras.
2. Do I love it?
Does it enhance your life in some way? Does it make you feel happy when you look at it or use it? Remember though, if everything is special then nothing is.
3. Do I use it?
You may have plenty of useful items in your home (ice-cream maker…punch bowl…spirailizer…you get the picture). But do you actually use them? They might appear to be useful, but they’re not if you never use them.
4. Would I move it?
If you were moving to a new house or apartment, would you take this with you?
When you imagine you are moving you can really shine a light on which possessions you love enough or are useful enough to justify the time and expense of bringing them with you.
You don’t have to answer yes to all the questions to keep an item. One resounding yes is enough.
You might love something that doesn’t have a “use” for example a beautiful piece of art, or use something you don’t love (toilet brush springs to mind here…) and that’s okay.
The aim is to be intentional with what you keep – there needs to be a reason to have this item in your life.
There is no one right way or wrong way to declutter. It’s all about finding what works for you. Here are a few strategies to help you get started. Choose one that feels right for you and jump right in.
1. Start small
There are some people who love to tackle big projects in one go. They have the time and energy to devote hours to a project and love to power through until they are done. If this works for you, great! However, it’s fair to say that this doesn’t work for everyone.
Why? It can feel overwhelming when you think about tackling a big project like decluttering a whole house, or garage. The key to being successful is to take action, no matter how small the steps.
Break it down into a series of achievable steps. Start with one small space – one drawer, one cupboard, your nightstand.
When you start small you gain the momentum to keep moving forward.
2. Start with what you can see
When you start with the visible clutter you see results quickly. This will give you the satisfaction of making a visible difference, as well as the motivation to keep going.
3. Start with a flat surface
Flat surfaces such as kitchen islands, tables, counters and desk are often cluttered magnets! It is so easy to put things down on them and leave them there. Similar to “starting with what you can see”, you’ll quickly see the benefits of clearing this clutter.
4. Start with an easy win
Get a quick win under your belt. You’ll get a feeling of accomplishment from setting an achievable goal and ticking it off your list, and motivated to keep going.
The bathroom is a great place to start. Not only is it the smallest room in the house, but making decisions about what to keep and what to toss is fairly simple. You don’t find many sentimental items in a bathroom. It’s a quick and easy decision to toss that cakey and expired makeup, and half-used bottles of toiletries you tried but didn’t like.
Once you start you’ll find it easy to keep going
There’s no doubt that starting can be the hardest step. But once you begin, you’ll build your decluttering muscles, and making decisions will get easier.
You’ll start to both see and feel the benefits of decluttering as you gain momentum and you’ll be inspired to continue.
Keep taking those steps, no matter how small, towards creating a calm and ordered home you love!
Ready to tackle a quick and simple decluttering project?
Subscribe to the latest news and updates from A Lovely Year and receive my 15 Quick Win Decluttering Projects 3-page pdf to download.