You’ve probably heard the saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” It sounds simple enough, right? But where do you start? And how can you be sure that your home is actually cleaner and more organized once it’s done? The answer is deceptively simple: Start with one small area at a time.
The hardest part of organizing is getting started, so it’s important to focus on one small area at a time. Pick an area that needs attention and work on it until it’s clean, organized and uncluttered. Then move on to the next spot.
Step 1: Make a plan.
The first step to declutter is to make a plan. Sit down and list all the things you want to declutter, then break them down by category. Do you have clothing that no longer fits? How about things that are broken or worn out? Are there items that are sitting around your house without any real purpose?
Once you’ve identified what needs to be cleaned out, make another list of everything that should stay (both in terms of things and places). This can include anything from sentimental items like photos or jewelry, to more practical items like kitchen utensils and tools for home maintenance.
Step 2: Pick a corner.
Next, pick a corner of the room that you can see from a window. You want to be able to see this corner from the door and from other parts of the house as well, so it needs to be visible from at least two places. If your home has a lot of windows, then use all of them!
For example: Pick a corner where you can see it from your kitchen, living room and bedroom.
Step 3: Get boxes and bags.
The next step is to get boxes and bags. You’ll need them to transport items, store items, organize items, discard items and so on. If you’re not already familiar with the concept of decluttering by category (a system I use), here’s how it works:
- Your clothing goes into one box and your shoes go into another box.
- All small appliances (mixers, coffee makers) go into one bag while all large appliances (refrigerators) go into another bag. This way when selling stuff online or at yard sales later on down the road—you won’t have to negotiate which pieces are being sold! They’re already separated out for you!
Step 4: Focus on one area at a time.
Avoid the urge to tackle everything at once. Even the most organized people can’t take on too much at once, because it’s easy to lose focus in an effort to do everything. Instead, focus on one area at a time.
- Start with one room in your house, then move on to another room when you’re finished with that first one.
- Pick one drawer or shelf in each room and start there—don’t try to declutter every single drawer or shelf right away!
Once you’ve finished tackling all of the rooms in your home, go back and see what you can improve. Do this every few months if you find yourself losing focus on certain tasks or getting overwhelmed by clutter again!
Step 5: Stop picking things up.
As you go about your day, continue to not pick things up. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s absolutely essential if you want to declutter effectively. If a pile of books falls on the floor and you can’t reach it from where you’re standing, don’t worry about it—leave it there until later when you’ll have time to deal with it properly.
You’d be surprised at how much clutter accumulates in places that are difficult for us to reach (or even see). But once we start picking things up as soon as they fall out of place or come close to being in disarray, we end up creating more work for ourselves than necessary. Once something has fallen over an inch or two away from its proper place on the shelf or table or countertop, don’t bother trying to put it back there; just let it sit wherever gravity took hold before moving onto something else.
Step 6: Ask the question.
Step 6: Ask the question.
Once you have finished decluttering, it’s time to ask yourself some questions. These questions should be answered with a resounding “no” or “yes”.
- Do I really need this item?
- Will I use this item again?
- Will I use this item in the future? (For example, a plastic bag that has been used once to carry groceries home)
- Will I use this item when we move into our new apartment/house/apartment complex in 30 years from now (or whenever)?
Will I use this item when we travel to a new city/country or go on vacation? If the answer is “no”, then it’s time to say goodbye and throw away the item. If you are getting rid of an item because you will never use it again, then this is a clear indication that it was clutter all along. The final step in decluttering your home is to ask yourself these questions and you will be sure to declutter all the clutter in.
Start small and you’ll finish big!
Don’t get overwhelmed. It’s okay to start small, and you’ll feel better about your progress if you do. The best way to do this is by tackling an area of your home that needs a little love—a pile of papers on the kitchen counter or a few extra pairs of shoes in the closet. You can start with just one drawer, one shelf, or one box. Just remember: once you’ve made a good dent in that area, move onto another part of your home!
When people think “decluttering,” they often imagine getting rid of everything they own—and while this may be ideal in some situations (for example, if you’re moving), it’s not necessary for everyone all the time! The goal should always be making more space for things that bring joy into your life—not less room altogether (unless absolutely necessary). So even if where you live doesn’t allow for an extreme makeover right now–don’t fret! Small changes will still lead to big improvements down the road…just give yourself time and don’t rush it!
Think of decluttering as a journey. Some people may think that it’s a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Just take one step at a time and you’ll soon find yourself on the road to success.