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What to do Before You Start Decluttering

What to do Before You Start Decluttering

When you’re ready to simplify your home and your life, decluttering is an important step to take. But there are some equally important things to do before you start decluttering. Things that will help you declutter more effectively and make the decluttering process go more smoothly.

Doing a few quick things to get prepared before you start decluttering will not only help make decluttering easier. But it will also help you get the most out of your decluttering time. So you can clear the clutter more efficiently and effectively.

Don’t get too caught up in planning and preparing

Although getting prepared before you start decluttering is important, don’t get too caught up in the planning and preparation stage of decluttering.

The planning and prep you do ahead of time can certainly help make decluttering a lot easier. And it is important if you want to declutter more efficiently and effectively. But the most important step is actually getting to work and clearing the clutter.

Don’t spend so much time and energy planning and preparing for your decluttering, that you never actually get around to clearing the clutter!

Take time to do some quick planning and preparation, but then get to work and start clearing the clutter!

What to do Before You Start Decluttering
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

What to do before you start decluttering

Today’s post will share a list of things you can do to plan and prepare before you start decluttering.

Use this list to help you make the most of your decluttering time and efforts. Then get to work, clear the clutter and enjoy your simplified home and life!

1. Know your “why”

The most important thing to do to prepare before you start decluttering is getting clear about your “why” for wanting to declutter.

Your “why” is the reason behind why you want to declutter and simplify your home. It will become your compass to guide your decluttering decisions. Helping you decide what is adding value to your life and what is just adding clutter or distractions to your life.

Your why can encompass a few different elements. It includes what your vision for your home is once you’ve decluttered and simplified. How you want your home to look, feel and function as you declutter. And what you want to achieve by decluttering.

On a more specific level, your why can include what you want the purpose of each space in your home to be. And how you will achieve that as you simplify.

It includes identifying what matters most to you, so you are clear on your values, goals and priorities you want more time, space and energy for as you declutter.

The clearer you are about your “why”, the more effectively you’ll be able to declutter and simplify and reach your goals for your home.

2. Have a decluttering plan

A decluttering plan is a helpful tool to figure out all the details of decluttering your home before you start decluttering. As well as help you plan for and avoid some common decluttering roadblocks that can not only slow down your progress but make the work harder than it needs to be!

Then, once you start decluttering, your decluttering plan lets you use your time efficiently and get right to work. Instead of bouncing from one thing to another, or getting delayed by common roadblocks.

Your decluttering plan will include a few key details I’ll go over next.

And to make putting your decluttering plan together even easier, you can get a free decluttering plan workbook delivered right to your inbox HERE!

Here are the key elements to figure out in your decluttering plan:

How you will declutter

Before you start decluttering, decide how you will approach decluttering.

There are many different approaches to take, all with pros and cons. The key is deciding what will work best for your schedule, your preferences, your lifestyle and your goals.

For example, decide if you’ll declutter room by room or declutter by category of “stuff” instead. Decide if you’ll do the majority of the decluttering on your own. Or if you’ll involve your family, or even hire someone to help you.

When you will declutter

The next part of your decluttering plan is deciding when you’ll declutter.

First, decide if you’ll plan to declutter in big chunks of time, if you’ll plan to declutter in shorter bursts of time, or some combination of both.

Next, schedule your decluttering times in your calendar. Then hold yourself accountable to those times.

Decluttering is something that is really easy to put off if you don’t prioritize it and make it happen. Add your decluttering times to your calendar, then treat them like any other appointment and make sure you follow through.

Create a holding area

Next, decide on and clear a holding area to keep all the stuff you’re planning to get rid of in between runs to the donation center or while you’re waiting to sell it.

Ideally, create your holding area somewhere convenient so you can easily add stuff to it as you declutter, but also not too visible.

You don’t want you or your family to see things in your decluttering pile and start second-guessing your decluttering decisions. Or make it too easy for your family to dig through the pile, bring things back into the house and undo all your hard decluttering work.

Box or bag up things you’re planning to get rid of before adding to them to your holding zone so they aren’t visible. Not only does this help you avoid seeing the pile and talking yourself into keeping things. But it also makes it easier to load them up when you make runs to the donation center.

Know what you’re doing with the stuff you’re getting rid of

The next important part of your decluttering plan is deciding what you’ll do with the stuff you’re getting rid of.

You can save yourself time and frustration by spending a few minutes identifying where you’ll take donations or where you’ll try to sell things ahead of time.

Then, as you’re decluttering, you will already know where everything will go without having it sit in your house for too long as you try to figure out what to do with it all!

Know which donation centers you plan to use for donations. As well as what they accept and their hours for drop-offs.

If you’re planning to sell things, figure out where and how you will sell them. Whether it’s online, like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, by hosting a yard sale, etc.

A note about selling items

If you are planning to try selling things, a quick word of caution.

First, you will likely only get a fraction of what you paid back for most items. Prepare yourself to accept this and price things accordingly. Rather than thinking of the money lost, use it to help you shop more thoughtfully moving forward.

Second, give yourself “rules” to follow when selling items. Decide on a timeline you’ll wait before donating unsold items to avoid holding onto clutter for too long.

And finally, remember that selling items takes a lot of time and effort. You will have less time to declutter if you try to sell most items. Decide what your priorities are – recouping some money for items you’re getting rid of or clearing the clutter faster. Use that to decide if you want to donate or try selling items.

Take before photos

The last part of your decluttering plan is taking before photos of each space you plan to declutter.

Not only do photos help you see a space and identify clutter more objectively. Especially if you’ve become “clutter blind” and are having a hard time knowing exactly what’s causing the clutter in a space.

But they also help you keep track of the progress you’re making. Especially if you’re decluttering a little bit a time. Sometimes you don’t even realize how far you’ve come. But having a “before” picture to look back on is a great way to document and celebrate your progress. And keep you feeling motivated and inspired to continue.

Set realistic expectations

As you are making your decluttering plan, it’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself. Keeping your decluttering goals and expectations realistic and achievable is an important way to help you stay motivated and encouraged as you’re decluttering.

Give yourself realistic timeline goals when you’re decluttering, based on how much time and energy you are willing and able to devote to decluttering.

Remember that some spaces and categories of “stuff” will be more difficult to declutter than others and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Decluttering your entire home is usually a marathon, not a sprint. If you can go into decluttering knowing that and keep your expectations realistic, it will help you feel more successful in your progress. Which can help keep you motivated to continue!

3. Do a quick decluttering sweep first

Before you dive into decluttering a space, try doing a quick sweep through the space first. Look for anything that’s easy to get rid of and get rid of it first. This might be things like garbage, surface clutter you have no attachment to or even décor items you don’t love or care about.

While you’re doing a quick sweep of the room, also look for anything that belongs in other rooms, needs to be returned or put away somewhere else. Gather those things up in a box or basket.

You can continue adding to this basket as you work on decluttering and come across things that need to put away elsewhere. Then deal with and put away those items when you’re finished your decluttering time for the day.

There are a few reasons for doing a quick decluttering sweep through the space first before you start decluttering.

First, it lets you clear the easy clutter that will immediately improve the look and feel of the room.

Second, it helps you find your decluttering groove. Then when you move onto clearing the clutter that isn’t as easy to let go of, you’ll already be in the zone.

And finally, putting things away that don’t belong in the space can be very distracting when you’re decluttering. It can leave you running from room to room, and maybe getting distracted doing other tasks along the way, instead of decluttering.

Taking a few minutes to gather those items first, and have a place to put items you come across as you declutter, allows you to focus on decluttering the space, instead of getting sidetracked putting things away and tidying up.

4. Gather your decluttering supplies

And finally, the last thing to do before you start decluttering to ensure your decluttering time is as productive as possible is to gather your supplies!

You don’t need much to declutter. But there are a few things that can make the process easier and more efficient.

First, have a few bags, boxes or baskets on hand for each of the following categories:

  • Things you plan to sell
  • Items to donate
  • Garbage
  • Things to put away in other areas of the house

Bring a water bottle, something to drink and even a snack to keep you going as you’re decluttering. Turning on your favourite music or podcast can help make the whole process more enjoyable too.

What to do before you start decluttering

Now you’re ready to get to work and start clearing the clutter!

I hope this post helps you get prepared to start decluttering so you can clear the clutter as quickly, easily and as efficiently as possible.

And remember, all the time and energy you put into decluttering will pay off when you can experience the benefits of a clutter-free home!

You’ve got this. Happy decluttering!

What to do Before You Start Decluttering
Photo by Noppadon Manadee on Unsplash

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Thursday 4th of May 2023

My husband and I are seniors and we decided to downsize from a 3,000 square foot house on 2 acres to an 1800 square foot house in a regular neighborhood while we still could make this kind of move. Needless to say, decluttering and downsizing is a huge part of this endeavor. I found your decluttering suggestions at the right time. All your advice is spot on and gives me some great ideas that will make all this much easier as we prepare for this move. Thank you so much.

Simple Lionheart Life

Friday 5th of May 2023

I'm so glad you're finding my site helpful. That's great to hear! Good luck with your decluttering and move and thanks for reading :)


Friday 14th of January 2022

Great! Thank you so very much I’m going to start now with help of a friend

Simple Lionheart Life

Monday 17th of January 2022

That's fantastic! Good for you! And thanks for reading :)

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