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Start decluttering today

go get 'em coffee cup and notepad

Have you been putting off decluttering?

Raise your hand if you’re always putting off decluttering until tomorrow?
 
You just don’t have the time to do it properly, so you don’t do it at all.
 
Or, maybe you make a start but end up surrounded by even more chaos than you started with. So you shove it all back in the cupboard, feeling deflated.
 
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. There is no one right way to declutter. What works for one person may not work for someone else. The most important thing for successful decluttering is to commit to it.
 
In this blog post I will walk you through how to get started decluttering today. When we’re done, you’ll now what you’re striving for and you’ll have some strategies and tips that you can try out for yourself.
 
Are you ready to get started?

What's your end goal?

Creating your vision for the space is a vital part of decluttering. You need to know WHY you’re decluttering and what your end goal looks like.
 
Grab yourself a pen and paper and write down your answers to the following questions. This could be for the whole house, or one particular room or space. If this is a shared space, I encourage you to do this with everyone who uses the space.
  • What is the purpose of the space?
  • Who will use this space?
  • What activities do you want or need to do in this space?
  • How do you want to feel in this space?
  • Is there something you love about it?
  • What isn’t working?
  • Which items should and shouldn’t be in there?
It’s worth finding some images of how you would like the space to look or of any cool ideas you’ve found that might work in this space to make it function better. This will help you visualise the potential of the space and motivate you to keep going.

Decide where to start decluttering

Now that you have your vision for the space, it’s time to decide where to start decluttering. Ask yourself the following questions:
 
What will make my life easier?
Is it clearing the pantry so you can actually see what you have easily without digging around and moving stuff.
 
Will it help me reduce my daily decisions?
Maybe your wardrobe is overcrowded and you go through three outfit changes everyday to find something that looks and feels good to wear.
 
What will help me relax or make me smile?
What’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door? Maybe its the pile of papers on the counter? How does this make you feel?
When deciding where to start decluttering, there are three main strategies. 
 

1. The biggest impact

The first strategy is to start decluttering the area that will have the biggest impact on your life. Sorting out the photographs would be great, but will it make any difference to you day-to-day? Whereas, decluttering the entryway may save you time in the mornings and could help you feel calmer and happier when you walk in the door.
 

2. Quickest or easiest

The second strategy is to start with the quickest or easiest area to declutter, so that you can see progress and build momentum. I don’t recommend starting with sentimental items. Instead get some practice with items that are easier to decide on. This could be out of date items, broken items, or obsolete items. Have a look at my Decluttering tips – 4 types of clutter blog post for more ideas.

 

3. Just start

The last strategy is to just start.
 
If you’re like me and suffer from perfectionist tendencies, you might fall into the trap of overthinking. You might be worried about what to do with the items you declutter, or think that you have to work out how you’re actually going to organise the garage before being able to start.
 
This is a recipe for procrastination.
 
So long as you’ve got an idea of the end goal, you just need to start with the first step, and that’s decluttering.
 
Where NOT to start decluttering

The one thing I can’t stress enough, is to not start with going to the shops and buying organising products. 

You may be really excited and have seen some cool looking products, but until you’ve actually gone through your items, even if you don’t get rid of anything, there are a few things you need to know. 

First you need to know exactly WHAT you need to store and HOW MUCH of it there is. You also need to identify WHERE to store it, and measure the space and the items in order to find the right storage solution.

3 decluttering methods to try

For any decluttering job you will need to go through items and decide if it:
  • Stays in the room/space
  • Belongs somewhere else
  • Is rubbish
  • Can be donated or sold
But, there are a few different ways you can approach this.
 

1. Declutter by item

Go through each item one by one and make a decision. This is the simplest method, but can be difficult and time-consuming for large, complex spaces. I would recommend this for smaller areas where the items are already in some kind of order. Try it with your make-up bag, your pen collection or your crockery.
 

2. Declutter by end decision

Focusing on the end decision can be a good way to make quick progress. To do this, try one of the following. Go through the room and:
  • Get rid of all the rubbish
  • Find 10 items to donate or sell
  • Collect items that don’t belong in the space.

3. Declutter by category

Sorting into categories first is a common method used by professional organisers. The Marie Kondo method actually focuses on tidying by category rather than by room. I don’t believe her approach is practical for everyone, but sorting or categorising is a key step for decluttering as it allows you to see how much of each item you have. 

When you can tangibly see you have ten pairs of scissors, it is easier to make a decision on which two to keep.  This not only helps you to make decluttering decisions, but is also the first step to organising the items you will be keeping.
 
Often, this method is done iteratively. For the first iteration, put into broad categories e.g. all the stationery together, all the books together, all the clothes together. Make any easy decisions as you sort e.g. get rid of broken or out of date items.
 
Once the items are in high-level categories, you can then revisit each category and do a fine sort if needed. So, sort stationery into pens, pencils, notepads, envelopes etc. Or, sort clothes into type or size. It’s good to combine this with a decision too. For example, when fine sorting paperwork, decide up-front that all utility bills from 2019 or earlier can go.

Some final decluttering tips

  • Schedule it in. Add it to your to do list or your calendar and commit to doing it.
  • Don’t do it alone. Grab a helper, it could be your kids, a friend or a professional organiser.
  • Capture your progress. Take a before and after photo.
  • Be prepared. You will need a few bags, boxes or tubs for rubbish, recycling and donations. Make sure you also have a box or tub for items that belong elsewhere, a washing basket works great for this.
  • Stay focused. Set a timer and don’t leave the space.
  • Take a break about once an hour.
  • Allow 15 mins at the end to remove rubbish, relocate items and neaten things up.
Break it down into small chunks
If you can’t dedicate a solid amount of time, or you are too overwhelmed, then breaking it down into small chunks is a great way to start.
 
Choose a method and set a timer for 15 mins. Instead of doing the entire kitchen in one go, just do one drawer, one cupboard or one pantry shelf. Or, using the ‘by decision’ method above, spend the time finding as many items as you can to donate.
 
This method is great for regular maintenance, but can work for bigger jobs if you commit to doing it frequently. Try for at least once a day, twice if you can, so that you will see progress and build momentum.

Congratulations

Lastly, congratulate yourself for making a start. Reward yourself with a cup of tea  or glass of wine and your favourite Netflix episode.
 
Decluttering and organising is a skill that takes practice. The more you do, the better you will get. It’s also not a one-off task, so I encourage you to make a regular habit of decluttering, so that you can gain back control and reclaim your space.
 
I would love to see your before & after pics and find out what method worked best for you. Join my Facebook group to share your wins and get more inspiration and support.

Reclaim Your Kitchen Blueprint

The kitchen is the busiest and most hard working space in your home. It’s not surprising that it can get out of control!

Are you ready for an uncluttered and streamlined kitchen, optimised for your unique lifestyle? If you have no idea where to start, let me help you get motivated, keep you accountable and get the job done.

Hi, I'm Sarah.

I’m here to support & motivate overwhelmed families juggling the demands of everyday life.

I believe that what’s in your home should be intentional and organised in a way that makes your life easier, reduces your daily decisions and makes you smile 🙂

As a parent I’m all too familiar with that overwhelming feeling that comes from a never ending to do list and the desire to get it all right. When things start to unravel at home it can take an unnecessary toll.

That’s why I’m passionate about helping you create a home that you can relax and have fun in so you can truly treasure your time together as a family.

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