Do you feel consumed by clutter? Do you feel like you have so much to go through that you don’t know where to begin? It’s easy for clutter to creep into our homes. And it can go from a small problem to a major epidemic overnight if we aren’t diligent about purging.
The reality is that you will never have an organized home if you don’t first declutter. Throwing clutter in bins and adding a label is not going to create the peace of mind your trying to find when you attempt to organize your home.
I know how a cluttered home can affect your mood and mindset. If you are overwhelmed by clutter, just know that there is a light at the end of what seems like a very dark tunnel. You can have a peaceful home. You can have a home you love. You just have to jump in a get started!
Here are 7 steps to take when the clutter is taking over and you don’t know where to begin.
1. Start with a Quick Sweep
Grab a laundry basket and throw in anything that doesn’t belong in your home anymore. It might belong in the trash or it might be something you can sell or donate. This is a visual sweep of your entire house.
This is not the time to clean out drawers or dig in the back of closets. Depending on the size of your house, this should probably take you anywhere from 10-30 minutes. Toss in decor you no longer love, anything that is broken or damaged beyond repair, and papers you no longer need that can be recycled.
If you have to put down the basket to sort through things, then you are going too deep into sorting mode. Remember, this is just to sweep the surface to help give you a quick boost of energy and motivation.
2. Create a Plan
Write down your top 10 spaces in your home you need to declutter. What are the spaces you dread going to? Is there a closet that you avoid because it’s so overwhelming? Maybe it’s an overly full laundry room? (I’m raising my hand on this one!) Or maybe your kitchen cabinets are busting at the seems? Create a simple list of the 10 spaces you want to declutter the most.
Yes, I realize you may have more than 10 spaces that need to be decluttered in your home. But hear me out. If you create a list of all the small spaces in your home that need decluttering, your list may become stressful and overwhelming. The anxiety of trying to tackle so many projects might be too much for you and you will quit before you begin.
However, if you just list the 10 spaces that are causing you the most stress, then tackle them first, you will inevitably feel a sense of accomplishment. As you go along, you may alter your list. This is just a preliminary goal sheet. It gives you a place to start.
On the flip side, don’t spend too much time planning this out. It doesn’t have to be overly detailed or a pretty checklist you create on your computer. The clutter has accumulated and procrastinating is not going to make it go away.
3. Tackle the Worst Thing First
Think of the space that makes you cringe. What space is stressing you out more than any other space in your home? This is what you should tackle first and foremost.
By getting the worst space out of the way first, you will give yourself a boost of motivation and confidence that you can do it!
4. Set Aside 15-30 minutes Each Day
Once you’ve done your initial sweep, created your plan, and tackled your worst space, it’s time to schedule your decluttering into your everyday life. If you have time to set aside a weekend or two to get the bulk of it done, that’s great. But if you’re anything like me, there is no way you can dedicated an entire weekend of uninterrupted time to declutter. (There is no way my two little hooligans would let this mama spend an entire weekend decluttering! :))
So instead of trying to tackled everything all at once, I recommend setting aside anywhere from 15-30 minutes each day to declutter. Some spaces may take a little more time. If you know it’s going to be a larger, more time intensive project, schedule it in on a day that you can dedicated an hour or two to that project.
5. Set Up a System
Decluttering will be much easier if you have a system in place for how to deal with the clutter. The clutter accumulated most likely do to disorganization. So let’s set up a new precedence of a more organized life now! Get organized with your decluttering! 🙂
Find 3 containers that you can use long term for this project. They could be cardboard boxes, tubs, or laundry baskets. You could even use trash bags if that works for you! Label them sell, donate, and trash. Then get to work on your space.
Once your trash box is full, throw it away. Once your donation box is full, take it to your local donation center. Once your sell box is full, list those items on a swap group or Craigslist or take them to your local consignment shop. Don’t let this clutter stay in your home any longer! You’ve done the hard part. Now finish the cycle and get it out of your house quickly!
6. Declutter, Don’t Organize
It’s important that you don’t try to organize while your decluttering. This can very easily become extremely overwhelming if your already very consumed by clutter. Make sure that you are just decluttering at this point. We will talk more about organization in a later post.
Once a space is decluttered, just put things in the logical place where they belong. Don’t categorize or contain at this point. If you have a lot of small like items, just throw them in a baggie or small box to keep like items together. It’s fine to tidy up a bit, but don’t dive into the organization process at this time.
6. Repeat the Cycle
Once you have made it through your top 10 spaces that are bringing you down the most, it’s time to re-evalulate. At this point, you may be completely done and realize that your home is perfectly decluttered and there is nothing else for you to do. But, more than likely, you will find that there are more spaces for you to declutter. These may be spaces that you knew about from the beginning, but they also may be spaces you discovered along your decluttering journey so far.
Continue to make a top 10 (or less) list and work your way through them until you have decluttered your entire home. This will help for you to keep the decluttering process reasonable and encouraging rather than stressful and overwhelming.
7. Create a Clear the Clutter Bin
Once you have completed the cycle of decluttering, it’s time to put systems into place to make sure you never have to go back to a cluttered home again. I think that the best way to do this is to create a “Clear the Clutter” bin.
This may be a basket, tub, or box that you keep in an easily accessible spot in your home. When you find something that you don’t use, love, need, or want any longer, throw it in the bin. Once the bin is full, it’s time to get it out of your house. Immediately put the contents in your car and take it to your local donation center or consignment shop.
8. Change Your Mindset
Once you have rid your life of the clutter in your home, you don’t want to continue to bring more back in. This is where you need to change your mindset.
If you are shopping, think very carefully about if the item will just be clutter or will be of use. I love Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you haven’t read it, Kondo talks a lot about how things in our homes and lives should “spark joy.” I like to use this phrase when I decide whether or not to bring something home. If it doesn’t spark joy, it doesn’t come home with me. This has really helped me to cut down on the clutter and really create a joy-filled home that I love.
Now that you have a clutter-free home, does this mean you will never have to go through the decluttering process again? Probably not. Life gets busy and we fall out of our routines. However, once you’ve done it the first time, you will pick up on the signs of clutter accumulation earlier. You can hope back into these steps and tackle it before it gets out of hand! Creating a clutter-free home is not an easy process, but the peace and joy it brings to a home is worth all the effort!
What do you struggle with most while decluttering?