Decluttering your home is a massive undertaking that requires clarity, determination, and the ability to be ruthless with your belongings.
But the effort is always worth it for a calm, organized, and tidy home. You’ll never hear someone regret decluttering.
Why is decluttering so stressful?
Decluttering can be stressful because it calls to take a complete inventory of your life through all you own. And I don’t know about you, but that sounds intimidating. Luckily you can declutter your home quickly by working on each room one at a time, which will build momentum and sharpen your decluttering skills as you progress.
How do you declutter when you feel overwhelmed?
One of the best strategies for decluttering during overwhelm is to deal with the most overwhelming area or room first. That’s right, jump in and fix the biggest problem first so you eliminate that stress as soon as possible. For example, many people feel overwhelmed by their bedroom closet. If that’s the case for you, start there and everything after that will be easier.
How can I declutter my house quickly?
The fastest way to declutter is to work in one room at a time. This is the best decluttering technique because you give each room complete focus and work on the room until it’s finished. If you try to work on small areas of multiple rooms, decluttering will feel overwhelming and it will be practically impossible to see the results you need to keep progressing.
What are the steps to decluttering?
Here we go, the ultimate steps to decluttering. First, you’ll want designated areas or boxes for the things you’re taking action with.
Make a distinct spot or bin for these categories to get started: Donate, sell, repair, landfill, recycle, put away
Having a plan for the items you’re decluttering is essential. Make a list of places you can donate items to, where you can sell items in excellent condition, take notice of when trash pickup is and what items your local town recycles. Many times people will go through the tough work of decluttering only to keep decluttered items in their garage because they don’t know where to bring them. Have this information ahead of time to avoid holding on to this stuff for any longer.
How to declutter room by room
Decluttering is an intimate experience, so only you know the best place to start. However, my recommendation is to start in the most overwhelming place to provide immediate relief to yourself.
Pull everything out of the vanity drawers and shelves and go through each item. Remove expired medications (recycle many medications through a DEA take-back program) and products first and put in the proper bin (recycle or trash).
Next, go through the rest of the items to determine which bin they should go in. Found a spatula? Put it in the put away bin. And if you have a working hair straightener you no longer want, it can go in either the donate or sell bin. Go through each item until only the items you want to keep remain and put them away in a permanent spot.
Ignore clothing for now because clothing is its own beast. For now, remove your items from bedside tables, desks, and so on. Start organizing the items into the categorized bins you have set up. Put away books you’ve finished reading, throw away receipts that pile up, and the old to-do lists.
Make sure surfaces are cleared off and put things you want to keep away in their own spot. After you’ve decluttered the bedroom, make your bed as a finishing touch.
Closet and Clothing
Take all clothing out of dressers and closets and match like items together. For example, all sweaters together, all jeans together and so on. Go through each like pile and separate into the 5 bins you have set up.
When you’re looking at each item, ask yourself the following questions:
When was the last time you wore this? Does this currently fit? Is there something keeping you from wearing this? (stains or rips) Do you plan on wearing this again?
Once you answer those questions, you will have more clarity about which items to donate, sell, recycle, trash, or repair. Put away your chosen items back in drawers and closets based on the season. If it’s summer, put your winter items near the back or on the bottom piles.
Entryways can become dumping grounds for stuff we don’t know what to do with. Junk mail, real mail, reusable shopping bags, shoes, hats, coats, keys, receipts, and so on.
Take everything out of drawers and surfaces and go through each item. Organize the items into the 5 bins you have set up and put away what’s leftover. If you don’t already, set up organizational systems for each of the categories you just decluttered. A designated place for keys and mail, shoe organizer, coat rack, recycling bin, etc.
Kids’ toys can feel overwhelming and never-ending. I know how you feel. But the best way to declutter kid’s toys and playrooms is to do it often and ruthlessly. First, remove all non-repairable broken toys and either recycle or trash them. Then put aside the toys your kids are too old for and put them into the donate or sell pile. Your toy pile should be smaller now!
Now put aside the toys you don’t want your kids to have any more or the toys they don’t play with at all and put them in the donate or sell pile. You should be left with toys in working order that are age-appropriate that get played with.
If you want to start toy rotation, you could take a few of the remaining toys and pack them away in a “toy library”; which is a place where the kids don’t have access. Don’t be afraid of having only a few toys available for play at a time. Kids prefer fewer choices during playtime and having fewer toys can encourage more creativity. Go through toys as often as you pull out their seasonal clothes.
Our kitchens end up being a catch-all for our homes because we spend so much time in them; cooking, socializing, eating, and so on. First, clear off all the surfaces using the organizational bins you set up. When the surfaces are empty, take items out of the cabinets and go through each plate and bowl. Ask yourself how many bowls/plates/cups, etc you need for the size of your family. Remove the extras and add to whichever organizational bin is the most appropriate. Be realistic about what you use, so you don’t hold on to things for the sake of keeping them. For example – how many baking sheets do you really need? How often do you need a mixing bowl?
Once the cabinets are cleared out, move onto the drawers. Pull everything out and assess each item based on if it’s in working order, how many you have vs how many you need, and if you use it. Move the misfit items to the organizational bins and put away whatever you’ve kept in a permanent spot.
Living rooms can be a random smattering of household items that can usually benefit from decluttering. First, clear off any surfaces of tables, bureaus, etc. Then put away any items that could live somewhere else; random books can go on a bookshelf, magazines can be recycled, donated, or put on a magazine rack. Remove excess decor that gathers dust instead of bringing comfort. Set up organizational systems for mail, coasters, remotes, etc.
What should you not do when decluttering?
Don’t give up too quickly. Give yourself a chance to experience the benefits of having a tidy and organized house. Your things accumulated over time so it will take some time to remove or organize them.
Don’t take on too much at once. Decluttering a home that has never been decluttered in 1 weekend is probably unrealistic. Set yourself up for success by keeping a realistic time frame in mind. As long as you keep working steadily in each room when you have time, you’ll get to a place where you love your home.
Don’t bring new things into your home right away. It can be tempting to want to fill empty spaces with new items but try to resist. Only bring in new items that serve you well or are that you love deeply. Remember how hard it is to remove items from your home once they’re through the door.
Don’t wait too long to remove the decluttered items. Don’t fall into the trap of decluttering your home to just move everything into the garage. Finish the job completely and you won’t regret it.
Why does it feel so good to declutter?
Decluttering feels so good because you’re actively laying the foundation for intentional living. Where everything you own or everything you do serves you or serves a purpose. You can free yourself from the overwhelm of random things piling up and not knowing how to manage them.
Also, having a tidy and organized home just feels better because no one wants to be surrounded by clutter and mess. An organized and tidy home will provide comfort, peace, and allow you to be less stressed.