Many people claim decluttering is the answer to a happier home. Not only will a clutter-free home take you less time to tidy, it could also lift your mood. If your house is packed to the rafters with stuff, don’t fret; there is hope!
The clutter didn’t accumulate overnight and it won’t disappear overnight, so you need to be realistic about the time it will take to address it. Taking small steps will bring you the results you need, and let you reclaim lost energy, space and time. Before you know it, those steps will add up to a massive leap in addressing the chaos in your home.
Acknowledge your clutter
Once you acknowledge that your clutter is having an enormously draining effect on you, you will realize there is no option but to do something about it. Acknowledging and taking action to eliminate clutter is liberating. Your house is not meant to be a storage space; it’s a place for you to relax and unwind.
You will be amazed at how de-cluttering one area of your life can positively affect other areas – including your professional life, your relationships with others, the effectiveness of your parenting and so on. So let’s get to the decluttering tips that could change your life.
Where to start decluttering
Knowing where to start can be challenging if you are used to the clutter. Unfortunately, you’ve probably become so accustomed to the chaos you don’t even notice it anymore.
As with many big jobs, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and avoid doing it altogether. However, decluttering is worth doing and you won’t regret the time spent on this essential chore.
Keep reading to find out how best to tackle your cluttered home.
Should I clean first or declutter?
Many people consider decluttering when tidying up but worry they will make more of a mess. Decluttering isn’t a tidy job and will cause some upheaval in the home. However, it’s going to be worth it in the long run. You can choose to declutter as you tidy up, or you can tidy first and then declutter; it’s totally up to you.
Combining the two jobs will ensure you have a tidy home at the end of the decluttering, which many see as a bonus. In addition, if you see decluttering as a part of your tidying, you’ll get into good habits for the future.
Keep your cleaning supplies handy as your work through the decluttering process. When you empty a drawer or storage unit, get to work deep cleaning before deciding which items are here to stay.
How to declutter your house
Decluttering your home might seem daunting, but you’re going to smash it. All you need is some free time, a dash of motivation and Elsa’s passion for letting things go. Here are some of our favorite decluttering tips:
#1. Pick a day and time
Set a day and time to make a start, then write it down and stick to it. Jot it down on a to-do list, together with what you need to make it happen – for example, garbage bags, markers and storage bags. Make sure you have this all ready before the day. Keep the list in a spot you cannot miss, such as the fridge. So many of us are procrastinators that without this ‘reminder’ we find an excuse to put it off again and again.
#2. Adopt a can-do attitude
Use positive self-talk and an ‘I can do it’ attitude to prepare mentally for your first job . This helps keep your energy levels up and the negative, lazy voice inside your head at bay. Don’t underestimate the power of saying positive things to yourself – for example, ‘Just one step at a time’.
#3. Start small
It is a good idea to start with just a junk drawer here and there before tackling whole cupboards and rooms. Otherwise, you risk creating too much mess, which might scare you off doing something about the rest. It’s also essential to complete one area before starting on another, or you will feel overwhelmed. Just remember to start small and don’t get carried away with the job and forget to clean up after yourself before going on to the next job.
Choose a kitchen drawer, for example, and make it your first decluttering project. Use drawer dividers to calm the chaos and create an organized space to store your baking supplies, for example.
#4. Focus on your stuff first
Tackle your own areas first, rather than your partner’s or children’s. Otherwise, it’s too easy to find an excuse not to do it because it’s their mess, not yours. If it’s your area, then you know it’s your responsibility and it will be harder for you to talk yourself out of tackling the problem.
#5. Get your garbage bags ready
Have garbage bags ready to go and psych yourself up to fill them completely. You will need a ruthless attitude. If you struggle to throw things out, have a friend help you identify what is and isn’t junk. Have a recycling bin handy, so you can repurpose recyclable items.
#6. Have a bag ready to donate
Have a separate bag for items you can pass on. Once it’s full, make sure you put each bag straight into your car and take it to the nearest donation bin or charity store ASAP. Otherwise, before you know it, it will end up in the cupboard it came from, only to collect more dust and cause you more grief and stress.
#7. Give yourself a deadline
Give yourself a set amount of time to complete your jobs. If you need to, break down your tasks on your to-do list, making sure you write it all down on one piece of paper. Keep it close to you, with a red pen to tick off the jobs you complete.
#8. Take regular breaks
Reward yourself with regular coffee/tea breaks, every hour or so. Then make sure you get straight back into it. You will find you are soon on a roll.
#9. Find new homes for to-keep items
You might need to find new, more appropriate homes for some of the items you keep. So set up some designated areas – for example, boxes and storage containers of various sizes – for different categories of objects. These storage boxes will help you figure out what you need to keep and how much storage space you need to find.
#10. Get into the habit of putting things away immediately
For a decluttering tip that will change your life, learn to put things away. Make sure you put any new items in the appropriate place straight away. If you hear yourself saying ‘I don’t have time’, or ‘I’ll do it later’, them don’t listen. Just do it! You can make time and get into the habit if you want to. It’s all about getting into a new routine. Then, before you know it, you do it without even thinking.
How to declutter your home in one day
Some people choose to declutter their homes in a single day. If you have a day of childcare and want to do something to improve your life, decluttering will work. Choose which room you’re going to tackle first and get stuck in. Start in the living rooms, as these are usually the first to attract unnecessary stuff.
Have separate piles for things you’ll throw out and things you’ll pass on to your local charity shop or thrift store. Make sure donated items go straight to the secondhand store and garbage goes straight to the dump.
Declutter a room in 30 minutes
If you prefer to do just a little and more often, then a 30-minute room decluttering is ideal. Set a timer and get to work. Home in on the problem areas (drawers, shelves, and other storage spaces that attract stuff) and sort through as much as possible. You are unlikely to finish the entire room in 30 minutes but you should make good progress.
Add a 30-minute room declutter to your weekly tidying schedule and you’ll slowly but surely chip away at the clutter in your home. Some rooms, like the laundry room, can be organized in 30 minutes, but others might require more time.
How do you declutter when you want to keep everything?
If decluttering is proving difficult, it’s worth asking yourself why. Where does this desire to hold on to things come from? If you hate putting stuff in the bin, try to re-home them. One person’s clutter is another person’s treasure. Acknowledge that the clutter is affecting your life and that you might be happier without it. Finally, be ruthless; keep only what you need.
Focus on one room and see how you feel once the clutter is gone. If you enjoy spending time in your new tidy space, it might motivate you to tackle the rest of your home. Some people find it helps to choose a room they know will stay organized. For example, if you do most of the laundry, you could organize the laundry room first and make a pledge to make sure it stays clutter-free.
If you’re struggling to organize your cluttered space and can afford it, hire a professional organizer to start sorting through things and help you organize your home.