One of the most challenging parts of decluttering can often be figuring out how to stay consistent when decluttering. Especially when life, work, kids, chores, errands, social activities, etc. can sometimes get in the way of your decluttering efforts!
Today’s post is all about how to build good decluttering habits. Making it easy to stay consistent when decluttering. Not only so you can start decluttering, but also build your momentum and motivation to keep going and finish clearing the clutter too!
You’ll learn some simple tips and strategies you can use to declutter with confidence, clarity and most importantly consistency!
How to stay consistent when you’re decluttering
Like any new habit you’re trying to establish, building a decluttering habit requires consistent effort to stick with it.
But the good news is there are a few things you can do before you start and while you’re decluttering to build a decluttering habit and stay consistent when decluttering.
What to do before you start to help stay consistent when decluttering
1. Have clear goals & a vision
Set decluttering goals
Without decluttering goals it’s hard to stay focused and on track. Especially when life gets in the way and shifts your focus away from decluttering.
Having clear decluttering goals is essential to stay consistent when decluttering.
My favourite way to set goals of any kind, including decluttering goals, is to use the SMART goal setting method. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Here’s how to set a SMART decluttering goal.
How to set SMART decluttering goals
- Specific: instead of saying you want to declutter your house, give yourself a specific goal you want to achieve. You can set bigger, over-arching goals, as well as smaller, more specific goals. For example, your specific goal might be to declutter enough clothes that your entire wardrobe can comfortably hang in your closet with no overflow anywhere else. Or you might want to declutter your kitchen enough so everything can be kept in cabinets or drawers instead of on the countertops.
- Measurable: give yourself tangible ways to measure your progress. Use things like space limits, reducing your stuff by a certain amount (i.e. reducing Christmas décor down to 2 tote bins), finishing decluttering certain spaces, etc.
- Achievable: make sure the decluttering goals you’re setting are feasible for you to achieve. For example, planning to declutter your entire house in one weekend with a full-time job, young kids and a busy season of life might not be achievable. But planning to declutter your kitchen over the next 3 weeks might be.
- Relevant: ensure your goal is realistic and relevant. For example, decluttering your main living spaces first might be more relevant than tackling attic storage or digitizing all your printed photos.
- Time-bound: it’s easy to put off decluttering without giving yourself a timeline to follow and/or some deadlines. Give yourself specific dates for what you want to achieve by when. And what you need to do during each decluttering session between now and then to make it happen. This is a great way to know exactly what you need to do to stay on track and meet your decluttering goals.
Get clear about your vision for your home
It’s important to know exactly what you want to achieve by decluttering your home. How do you want your home to look, feel and function after decluttering?
Having a clear vision you’re striving for is a great way to stay motivated towards reaching your decluttering goals.
Write down your vision, make a vision board, start a Pinterest inspiration board, etc. Whatever works to give you something concrete and tangible to return to and remind yourself what you want to achieve and why you’re putting the work in to declutter.
2. Find and/or make time to declutter
Decluttering is something that likely won’t happen until you make the time in your schedule to get it done.
But the good news is, there are many different ways to find or make that time. And use that time in a way that will help you reach your decluttering goals.
Make decluttering appointments with yourself
A great way to stay consistent when decluttering is by making decluttering appointments with yourself.
Without specific times set aside to declutter, it can be easy to put the work off. Avoid this by scheduling your decluttering times into your schedule.
Decide when you’ll declutter. Whether it’s for 10 minutes a day each week day, for one hour on Saturday mornings, one Saturday a month, or some combination of all of these. Then make appointments with yourself to stay consistent and accountable.
Put these appointments in your calendar and set reminders. Then treat them like any other appointment and hold yourself to them.
Add “catch up” days to your schedule
One of the biggest barriers to building new habits is when you get a little bit off track, then think “oh well, I already missed 3 decluttering appointments and I’m behind now, so what’s the point?”.
Life happens and you won’t always be able to stick to your decluttering schedule.
Instead of letting a little slip completely derail your progress, build in time to account for normal slips in your decluttering schedule.
Give yourself some leeway and grace to catch up and account for missed decluttering sessions so you can continue making progress towards your decluttering goals.
Look for things you can let go of temporarily
Another way to find time to consistently declutter is looking for things in your schedule you can temporarily let go of to give yourself more time for decluttering.
Are there any commitments, obligations, activities, standards, etc. that you can temporarily put on hold or stop to give you more time to declutter?
Maybe you could stop going to a certain class or step back from one commitment and use that time to declutter. Or maybe you could relax your cooking standards and plan for one night of take-out each week. Then do some decluttering when you’d normally be cooking and cleaning up.
Remember, it’s not forever. It’s just a short-term sacrifice to take the pressure off yourself and free up some of your time.
Plus, keep in mind, the more you declutter and simplify, the more time you’ll have for activities you enjoy in the future.
3. Make & follow a decluttering plan
Make a personalized decluttering plan
Making and following a decluttering plan is a great way to help you stay consistent when you’re decluttering.
A decluttering plan takes all the guess work out of decluttering. Your plan makes it easy to figure out all the details of decluttering ahead of time. So once you get to work, you can declutter more efficiently.
A decluttering plan helps you avoid some common decluttering roadblocks that can impede your progress.
To make it even easier, sign up HERE to get a free decluttering workbook you can use to create your own personalized decluttering plan.
Follow a decluttering checklist
Another great way to stay on track and consistent when decluttering is by breaking down everything you need to do to declutter each space into small steps on a decluttering checklist.
A decluttering checklist makes it easy to dive in and start decluttering. Always knowing exactly what you need to do next. And it makes it easy to pick right back up again where you left off during your next decluttering session.
This is especially helpful if you are decluttering a little bit at a time, stopping and starting a lot. Instead of trying to figure out where you left off or what to declutter next, you can easily pick up where you left off and get right back to decluttering.
If you’re looking for ready-made decluttering checklists to make breaking down the decluttering tasks for each room really simple, you’re in luck. My decluttering guide, Your Clutter-Free Home, has detailed decluttering checklists for every room in your house, all ready to use!
Take the guesswork out of decluttering and follow the checklists in Your Clutter-Free Home to declutter with confidence, clarity and efficiency right from the start!
You can learn more about Your Clutter-Free Home here. And use coupon code WELCOME to save 25% off!
What to do while you’re decluttering to help you make consistent progress
Next, I’ll share a few of the important things you can do to stay consistent while you’re decluttering.
1. Always have a decluttering box set up
One of the easiest ways to make consistent progress decluttering your home is by making it really easy to get rid of clutter.
Always having a decluttering box set up and ready is a great way to do this.
A decluttering box is exactly what it sounds like. A place to put anything you find that you want to get rid of. When the box gets full, simply drop it off at your donation center and start filling it up again!
The reason a decluttering box is so important is because it makes it easy to get rid of things whenever you come across them in your home. Whether you’re actively decluttering at the time or not.
And the easier it is to get things you don’t use, need or love out of your house, the faster and easier you’ll reach your decluttering goals.
2. Add decluttering into your everyday household tasks
Another easy way to clear more clutter from your home in less time is by adding decluttering into your everyday household tasks.
Always keep an eye out for anything you don’t use, need or love. Then instead of putting it away or leaving it where it is, get rid of it instead!
For example, as you’re doing laundry, instead of folding or hanging up the shirt that drove you crazy the last time you wore it, put it in your decluttering box and get rid of it instead.
Or when you’re tidying up, vacuuming, dusting, etc. instead of cleaning, cleaning around or putting things away, decide if you and your family really needs, uses or loves them. If not, get rid of them!
You’re already doing the tasks, so you might as well use the time to assess if there’s any clutter you can get rid of while you’re at it!
3. Have a plan to handle paperwork
Another simple way to stay consistent with reaching your decluttering goals is by having a system in place to handle paperwork.
Paper clutter can be one of the biggest sources of clutter in many homes. And usually, it’s because there’s not a plan or system in place to deal with it. Then papers tend to get left out on tables, counters and other surfaces adding clutter.
Being a little proactive and coming up with a plan to deal with paperwork is a great way to avoid this big source of potential clutter.
It might be something as simple as an “inbox” or a simple filling system to keep paperwork contained in one area. Then you can check and deal with it regularly. Easily filing or digitizing what you need to keep, tossing what you don’t and taking action on what needs it.
4. A little goes a long way
Another important thing to remember to help you stay consistent when decluttering is a little can go a long way.
For example, decluttering for 5 minutes might not seem like much. But when you declutter for 5 minutes every day for a month, that adds up to 150 minutes of decluttering. All those minutes add up!
It’s easy to think you need to take big action and declutter for long periods of time to make progress reaching your decluttering goals. But when it comes to decluttering, baby steps count. And add up!
Decluttering for 3 hours on the weekend is a great way to make a lot of decluttering progress all at once. But you might not have 3-hour stretches of free time very often. And maybe don’t want to spend it decluttering when you do!
But you can probably find 5 or 10 extra minutes most days to quickly sort through one drawer/box/shelf/etc.
And because it’s easier to find 10 minutes vs. 3 hours, those 10 minutes will be more likely to happen more frequently.
When it comes to decluttering, consistency is often more important than intensity. Those little pockets of time, and few minutes here and there, will add up!
5. Finish one space at a time
Starting and finishing decluttering one room before moving onto the next is a great way to declutter consistently.
Rather than hopping from one spot to another decluttering, but never really seeing consistent progress anywhere can feel discouraging.
But starting and finishing one room before moving onto the next room lets you make visible decluttering progress. And seeing that progress fuels your motivation to keep decluttering consistently.
6. Plan a fun reward
This is another reason why setting SMART decluttering goals is a great idea. You have clear goals you’re striving for. Then when you meet each goal, you can reward yourself in someway.
It doesn’t have to be a big or expensive reward. And ideally shouldn’t be anything that adds more “stuff” to your home when you’re already working so hard to declutter.
It could be something as simple as getting food from your favourite restaurant. Or treating yourself to your favourite drink at a coffee shop. Or spending a day doing an activity you love guilt-free after reaching one of your decluttering goals.
Anything that keeps you motivated and excited to reach your goals!
Staying consistent when decluttering
Most of us start decluttering with a bang. Excited to clear the clutter and create a home we love.
But it’s usually when the initial excitement wears off and you still have a lot of decluttering left to do that staying consistent becomes a problem.
I hope these tips and strategies will make it easier to declutter consistently, reach your decluttering goals and create a clutter-free home you love!
What’s one thing you’re going to do to stay consistent in clearing the clutter and reaching your decluttering goals?