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Life can be busy. Sometimes you want to declutter your house and start living with less, but you are struggling to find the time. The good news is decluttering doesn’t have to be done in one big purging session. If that works for you, and you have the time, it can be a great way to see progress fast. But if you don’t have the time or inclination to spend a whole weekend decluttering, don’t let that deter you! I have plenty of tips to declutter even when you’re short on time.
There are lots of small steps you can take that will add up to big decluttering results. Here are some tips to declutter and examples of small actions you can take to get you started decluttering your house even if you are short on time:
General decluttering habits:
- Always keep one or more donation boxes around the house. When you come across something to get rid of, just add it to the box. When the box gets full, drop it off at your donation center. One of the major roadblocks with decluttering is deciding what to do with the stuff you are getting rid of. Having a box ready makes it easy to collect stuff to get rid of without having to worry about what you’ll do with it or where you’ll keep it.
- Make the beds every morning, or have everyone make their own bed if they are old enough. A neatly made bed instantly transforms a room and makes it look tidier and nicer. It might even inspire you to declutter another area!
- Look for anything you have duplicates of. One of most things is usually enough. If you have more than one of the same thing, keep your favourite and get rid of the duplicate.
- While you’re picking up or cleaning around the house, look for things you don’t use or love. When you come across something you don’t use or love, instead of picking it up and putting it away, or worse yet, leaving it out on the floor/counter/wherever, put it straight in to the donation box. That way you’ll never have to pick it up, put it away, clean it, or deal with again! Notice opportunities to make intentional choices about what you are choosing to keep in your home.
- If a drawer or cupboard is too full to close easily, or you struggle to put things away in it because it’s so full. Quickly go through the drawer/cupboard and get rid of enough things that the drawer can close easily and/or you can put away whatever you’re trying to put away easily. Don’t worry about decluttering the whole drawer/cupboard right then. Just get rid of enough so you can easily access and close the drawer/cupboard. This will start to show you how having less really can make life easier.
- Get up right now (or as soon as you finish reading this!) and rush around the house and find 10 things to get rid. It can be things to donate, or things that can be thrown out/recycled. Set a reminder in your calendar to do this daily. Even just getting rid of 10 things a day will add up. Maybe challenge yourself to find one more thing each day than you did the day before. Over time you’ll begin to see progress.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes and go through one small area. It could be a shelf, a drawer, your desk top, etc. Work quickly and try to get rid of as many items from that one space as you can before the timer goes. You may not have hours to devote to decluttering, but 10 minutes is much more do-able.
- Pick a surface, such as a kitchen counter, the entry table, coffee table, bathroom counter, etc., and clear it off. Put things away or throw them out. Set a timer and work as quickly as you can. Don’t just move piles from one surface to another. Don’t put things somewhere else to go through later. Deal with them now. Put things away or get rid of them!
- As you’re doing the laundry, if you come across something that doesn’t fit, is worn out, you don’t like, etc. instead of putting it away in your closet or dresser, get rid of it!
- Is there something you try on, but never decide to wear? Or something you put on and go back and take off 10 minutes later? Instead of hanging it back up, or adding it to a pile of clothes draped over a chair, ask yourself if you really love it and want to keep it? If you always take it off and never end up wearing it, ask yourself why? If you don’t want to wear it today, will you ever want to wear it? Be intentional about what stays in your closet. By continually curating and editing your wardrobe, you will start to weed out the items you don’t wear or love.
- When picking up and putting away shoes, sort through them as you go. Get rid of any that are worn out. Rather than putting away a pair you don’t like or are uncomfortable, add them to the donation box.
- When getting ready in the morning, while doing your hair and make-up, get rid of any products you know you don’t use or like. Instead of rummaging past it in your drawer/cupboard/make-up bag, throw it out right then. Don’t keep having to deal with it day after day if it’s something you don’t use or like.
- Gather up any half used bottles of lotion, shampoo, body wash, etc. hiding in the back of your cupboard. Throw them out if you know you’ll never use them or don’t like them. If you’ll use them, take note of what you have and make sure you don’t buy any more until you’ve used up what you already have.
- Get rid of any product samples and multiples of travel sized products. Keep one set of travel products and refill or replace as needed. If there are any sample products you really want to try, give yourself a short deadline to use them. Throw out any that still haven’t been used by the deadline.
- When you’re waiting for a pot to boil, your coffee to brew, your tea to steep, your toast to toast, or whatever, open the drawer or cupboard beside you. Pull out anything you see that you don’t use or like. You don’t need to empty the drawer or do a thorough declutter and reorganization, just look for things you know you don’t use or need.
- Can’t remember the last time you used something? That’s a good sign you probably don’t really need it. Get rid of it and give yourself some space back.
- Get rid of anything you don’t like. If there is a mug you don’t like, so you never pick it, get rid of it. No sense in keeping things you don’t like.
- Is there something you never use, and only just move it around or push it to the back of the cupboard? Next time you need to move it to get to something else, instead of pushing it aside, just get rid of it. Stop letting it get in your way and put it straight in to the donation box.
- Get rid of any duplicates you have. Have two sets of measuring spoons? Pick your favourite and let the other go. If there are things like travel mugs, water bottles or mixing bowls that you’d like to keep a few multiples of, decide what is a reasonable number to keep. Then get rid of the rest. Just keep in mind that to actually see the benefits of decluttering, you need to be honest and ruthless. How many of each thing do you actually need and use? Set a limit and get rid of the rest.
- Sort through your pantry and get rid of any expired food. If there’s anything that’s not expired, but you know you won’t use, donate it to the food bank so it can help someone who will use it.
- Make a plan to eat from your pantry and/or freezer for a set amount of time, maybe a week or a month, without buying more food (aside from produce, dairy and bread). This helps you use up your stock of food, frees up space in your pantry, cupboards and freezer and saves you some money by using what’s on hand. You may have to get creative to use up some of the odds and ends. Have fun with it, make it a challenge.
- Clear off the front of your fridge. Recycle old paper, file anything you need to keep, throw out magnets you don’t like or if you have too many. Take everything off and keep it clear for a while. A UCLA study has shown the amount of clutter on your fridge is a reflection of your tolerance for clutter in your home. The more cluttered the fridge, the more cluttered the house tended to be. Keep your fridge clear for a day or a week and see how it changes the feel of your kitchen.
Living Room and Family Room:
- Recycle old magazines. Don’t worry about the recipe you wanted to try, or an article you wanted to read later. If you haven’t tried it or read it yet, you probably won’t. Just get rid of them. You can find most things online if you want to try it in the future.
- If you find yourself picking up throw pillows and blankets multiple times a day, keep your absolute favourites and get rid of the rest. Simplify your life by getting rid of the extras you probably don’t even need or use often anyways.
- If you’re sitting down to watch tv, sort through your DVD collection. If you haven’t watched a movie in the last year, it’s probably time to let it go. Donate used DVDs to your local library, you can easily borrow them back if you ever want to watch it again. Taking DVDs out of their cases and storing them in a CD binder is a great way to save space. Just remember, the idea is to own less, not organize it better. First get rid of the ones you no longer want, then decide if you want to better organize what’s left.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes and go through your bookshelf. See how many books you can get rid of before the timer goes off. If you’ve had a book for more than a year and still haven’t read or re-read it, donate it to your library as well. If you ever decide you want to read it, you can borrow it back!
- Medicine cabinet: quickly sort through and pull out anything that is expired or that you no longer need. Take expired or no longer needed medication to your pharmacy to be disposed of properly.
- Cleaning supplies: get rid of anything you haven’t used in the last 6 months. Get rid of anything you know you won’t use anymore, or that you forgot you had. If it’s something you will use, take note of what you have and don’t buy anything more until you’ve used up what you already have.
- Sheets and towels: do you have a stack of each, but never use the ones on the bottom of the pile? Get rid of the ones you never or rarely use and only keep the ones you use regularly. If you can’t remember the last time you used it – it’s probably safe to let it go. Decide on a limit of each to help you decide what to keep. For example, keep 2 sets of sheets per bed, and 2 towels per person. If you’re worried about not having enough towels, try to think through the situation that has you worried. Think of other possibilities you could come up with to solve the problem. For example, if you’re worrying only 2 towels a person isn’t enough if you have sick kids and need extra towels, think of alternative solutions. Could you use beach towels until the regular towels are out of the wash? Try not to hold on to things because of some possible, unforeseen future event. Most likely you’d be able to come up with an alternate solution using other things you have on hand.
Tips to declutter: make decluttering a part of your daily rhythm
Even if you don’t have hours a day to devote to decluttering, little bits of time and small actions will add up. Go about your day with a critical eye on your space and your things. As you are in contact with the things around your house, ask yourself if you really need or want them in your space. Be intentional about what you allow to stay. Over time all of these small efforts will add up and you’ll begin to see big decluttering results.
Remember that any time you invest decluttering and minimizing your life will pay off in the future. You’ll save time and have less stress when there is less to clean, less to pick up, less to maintain, less mess to lose your keys in, etc. The return on your decluttering investment is high!
I hope these ideas and tips to declutter will show you that there are lots of ways to add decluttering efforts to your day, even when life is busy. These are just a few ideas of ways to work on decluttering your home when you feel like you don’t have enough time to declutter. Once you get in the habit of decluttering, it becomes easier to spot things that aren’t earning their space in your home. Make decluttering and finding things to get rid of part of your daily routine. Set yourself up so you can begin to spot those things and get rid of them quickly and easily.
What are some ways you add decluttering in to your daily activities? Do you have any tips to declutter to add?
**Don’t forget to sign up below for your FREE printable decluttering tip sheet. It is a handy list of all these tips to help you declutter, even when you are short on time!**