Clearing the clutter from your home is key to creating a home you love. A home filled only with things you use, love and enjoy. Rather than piles of clutter sucking up your time and energy. You may know you want a clutter-free home, but the struggle is often figuring out where to start decluttering to get there!
Deciding where to start decluttering can be hard!
It can be hard knowing how or where to start decluttering.
You might feel overwhelmed by all the “stuff” and the thought of decluttering.
Or maybe you have limited time to declutter and want to make sure you use your time in the most effective way.
Or maybe you struggle with getting sidetracked putting things away, doing chores or keeping up with life when you’re trying to declutter.
A little guidance is all you need!
Sometimes all you need is a little guidance to get started decluttering with confidence and clarity.
In today’s post, you’ll learn:
- What you need to do before you start decluttering
- Where the best places to start decluttering are
- How to keep your momentum going to create a home you love
What to do before you start decluttering
Before you start decluttering, let’s go over a few important details that can make the process easier.
You don’t need to have an “all or nothing” approach when it comes to decluttering. Starting with small projects and doing a little bit of decluttering at a time is a great way to get started.
Not only do small steps and actions add up over time. But doing a little bit of decluttering on a regular basis is a great way to fit decluttering into your day, even if you don’t have a lot of extra time.
Try decluttering for 5 – 10 minutes a day on a regular basis. Finding 10 minutes can feel easier than trying to find an hour to devote to decluttering. Plus, 10 minutes of decluttering feels a lot less overwhelming!
Schedule decluttering sessions
After deciding when you will declutter – 10 minutes a day, an hour once a week, etc. – schedule your decluttering times.
Physically add them to your calendar and schedule them into your day.
Decluttering is easy to put off if you don’t have a clear plan to make it happen. Treat your scheduled decluttering times like any other appointment and hold yourself accountable to those times.
Visualize your goals
Another important thing to do before starting decluttering is getting clear about how you want your home to look, feel and function.
Visualize each space in your home and have a clear vision for what you want to achieve in the space. This is a great way to help you stay focused on your decluttering goals.
Set up a decluttering box
You want to make it as easy as possible to get rid of clutter when you’re decluttering.
Set up an ongoing decluttering box. Then anytime you come across something you don’t use, need or love, add it to the box. When the box gets full, drop it off at your donation center.
This lets you declutter anytime and makes it easier to clear the clutter!
Keep your decluttering box somewhere handy, but not too visible. You don’t want anyone seeing things in the decluttering box, second-guessing your decisions and bringing stuff back into the house!
And finally, one of the best ways to start decluttering is by doing just that – get started!
Don’t overthink it, over plan it or keep putting it off waiting for the perfect time to start. Just decide right now to start, then get started!
Where to start decluttering
This is my favourite way to start decluttering. It helps you ease into the process, while still making great progress to consistently clear the clutter from your home.
1. Do a clutter sweep
My favourite way to start decluttering is doing a clutter sweep through your whole house.
The reason this is my favourite way to start decluttering is because it’s easy. It’s a great way to break the ice, get started and remove some surface clutter.
A clutter sweep is a quick, easy and low-commitment way to get over the mental hurdle of getting started. Because often, once you start, it’s a lot easier to keep going.
How to do a clutter sweep
For a clutter sweep, all you need is a box, bag or laundry basket, and a few minutes.
Simply walk through each room in your house and look for anything you see that you know you can get rid of. It can be garbage you need to throw out, decor items you don’t particularly love or feel attached to, items you don’t love or use, etc. Look for the easy things you know you don’t use, need or love.
You’re breaking the ice and getting started decluttering, and warming up your “decluttering muscles”.
The more you practice getting rid of things, the easier it becomes to let go.
So starting by easing into decluttering this way is the perfect way to warm up and be more ready, willing and able to let go of more as you continue decluttering.
2. Tackle surface clutter
Clutter on the surfaces in your home can be one of the biggest things making your house feel cluttered, chaotic and messy.
Simply clearing the surface clutter can instantly make your home look and feel tidier, less cluttered and more pleasing to the eye. Not to mention a whole lot more functional!
Surfaces, especially flat surfaces, in your home, seem to be magnets for clutter. And clutter always seems to attract more clutter.
Focus on the key surfaces
Start by tackling some of the key surfaces that will eliminate a lot of visual surface clutter in your home.
The key surfaces that tend to collect the most clutter are places like the kitchen counters, kitchen and/or dining room tables, coffee tables and end tables, nightstands, entryway tables and bathroom counters.
Pick the surface in your home that tends to collect the most clutter and start there.
Pay attention to what is causing surface clutter in your home
As you clear the surface, notice what types of items you’re clearing. As patterns emerge, start brainstorming ways you can avoid these types of clutter from piling up again.
Maybe you need a better system to handle paperwork. Or a better home for things that are dumped when you or your family come home, like keys, wallets, phones, etc.
The key to decluttering the surfaces in your home is first clearing the clutter. Then creating new systems to manage the stuff that ended up as clutter on the surfaces in the first place!
Creating these new systems will likely take some trial and error. So don’t be discouraged if it takes more than one attempt to figure out what works best for you!
Pay special attention to paper clutter
Paper clutter seems to be the biggest culprit of surface clutter in many homes.
Coming up with ways to better manage and contain paperwork, so it doesn’t end up cluttering the surfaces in your home, is a great way to keep clutter under control.
You can create an inbox, a filing system, a digital filing system, etc. to collect and handle paperwork and help reduce paper clutter.
3. Declutter somewhere easy
After you’ve done a clutter sweep and worked on decluttering surfaces, keep your momentum going by picking somewhere easy to declutter next.
Easy places to declutter tend to be smaller in size, so you can start decluttering, finish the job and see the results of your efforts relatively quickly.
They are also usually more utilitarian spaces where your decluttering decisions can be more logical, and less emotional, so the decisions are more straightforward and easier to make.
Examples of easier places to declutter
The bathroom is a perfect example of an easier place where you can start decluttering.
Bathrooms are usually smaller in size. And you don’t usually keep your most precious possessions in your bathroom. Instead, it’s a matter of sorting through old makeup, half-used bottles of lotion, expired medications and a pile of towels.
Other examples of easier places to declutter are spaces like your pantry, a coat closet, your cleaning supplies cupboard, etc.
4. Declutter your highest priority space next
Now that you’ve warmed up and strengthened your decluttering muscles, and built up your momentum, move on to decluttering your highest priority space.
The best way to figure out what your highest priority space to declutter is is simply noticing what space is adding the most stress to your life or sucking up a disproportionate amount of your time.
Is your kitchen always a mess that leaves you feeling stressed out, irritated and overwhelmed?
Does your closet feel like it’s bursting at the seams, yet you always feel like you have nothing to wear, making mornings stressful and frustrating?
Are you so frustrated by the mess of toys that seem to spend more time being dumped out than actually played with?
Pay attention to what is adding the most stress to your life and start decluttering there.
When that space is decluttered, move onto the next space adding the most stress to your life and tackle it. Keep going until you’ve worked through every space in your home.
Focus on small steps
As you work on these spaces, remember you don’t have to do all the decluttering all at once. Break the work down into small, manageable tasks you can tackle one at a time.
For example, try decluttering one drawer/shelf/cupboard/box/section/etc. at a time. Don’t worry about decluttering the space as a whole. Instead, focus on one drawer, then the next one, and the next. It will feel a lot less overwhelming this way!
Or let me help break down the work for you! My decluttering guide, Your Clutter-Free Home, has a decluttering checklist for each room in your home. Each space is broken down into small, manageable decluttering action steps so you can clear the clutter without feeling overwhelmed. Learn more about Your Clutter-Free Home HERE!
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You can also set a timer for 10 minutes and do as much decluttering as you can in that time. Or aim to find 10 things to get rid of during each decluttering session.
Remember, small steps add up when you do them consistently!
Don’t overlook furniture
As you’re decluttering, don’t overlook big items like furniture.
Getting rid of unused, unnecessary or unloved furniture is a quick and easy way to make a huge impact on how a space looks, feels and functions!
Focus on what you’re keeping
As you’re decluttering, try focusing on what you’re keeping instead of what you’re getting rid of.
Focusing on what you’re keeping highlights the fact that you’re keeping all the things you use, love and enjoy.
When you see that you’re keeping your favourite things, it becomes easier to let go of your non-favourites.
Ask yourself the right questions
The two most important decluttering questions to ask yourself are: “Do you use the item regularly?” and/or “Do you love and enjoy the item?”.
Everything you choose to keep should be a definite “yes!” to one or both of those questions.
Check out this post for more decluttering questions to ask yourself if you’re still unsure.
Ways to keep your decluttering progress going
Here are a few tips to help you continue to clear the clutter and stay clutter-free once you get there!
Stop bringing more stuff in
As you’re working to declutter, one of the easiest and most effective ways to support your efforts is to stop bringing more “stuff” into your home!
No matter how much you declutter, if you keep bringing more stuff in, you won’t see as much progress from your efforts as you could.
Be very mindful about what you’re bringing into your home. Aim to buy or bring home less stuff so your decluttering efforts will make a bigger impact on your home and your life.
Use the “one in, one out” rule
And when you do bring new stuff into your home, aim to let go of at least one thing for every new thing that comes in.
However, don’t use the “one in, one out” rule as a crutch to continue buying more and more stuff. The ultimate goal is to clear the clutter, then buy less so you can declutter less and think about “stuff” less in general!
Use one, get rid of one
Another fun trick to use to boost your decluttering efforts in categories of stuff where you have multiples is to play a game with yourself where you use one and get rid of one.
Take coffee mugs for example. Each morning when you choose your mug, see if you can find one to use, one to get rid of.
It won’t take long before you’re down to your favourite selection of mugs and have a beautifully simplified cupboard!
Use this concept anywhere you have more than one of a certain type of item. For example, your makeup, your closet, your pen drawer, etc.
A “maybe box”
And finally, my favourite decluttering trick is a maybe box.
A maybe box is like a decluttering safety net. Allowing you to be more ruthless with your decluttering decisions, without worrying that you’ll regret getting rid of something.
Here’s how it works!
If you’re unsure if you want to get rid of something, put it in a box, seal the box and put it out of sight. Set a reminder in your phone to come back to the box in a set amount of time. Maybe 1 – 3 months from now.
When you get the reminder, if you haven’t needed, wanted or even thought about what’s in your maybe box, get rid of it knowing you will be fine without it!
Where to start decluttering to create a home you love
I hope these tips and strategies make it easy for you to decide where to start decluttering and how to keep your decluttering progress and momentum going.
Don’t let procrastination or overwhelm keep you from reaching your decluttering goals. Instead, take small, consistent steps to clear the clutter and create a home you love!