Feel like you’re drowning in stuff? Here’s the BEST strategy for decluttering your home.
Eyeballing a tottering stack of storage containers, I braced myself for impact. The first question that came to mind was, “If this falls and everything breaks, will I miss any of it?”
It’s totally normal to store some belongings like holiday decorations, out of season clothing, and memorabilia. But the next question that came to mind was “Do we have too much stuff?”
It wasn’t like I hadn’t tried decluttering before. On the contrary, every single winter I go through a nesting phase where I purge my home of everything I don’t love or need. But stuff accumulates anyway.
Determined not to be featured on an upcoming episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, I know all too well how quickly and easily clutter accumulates in a home.
Why we need to get rid of clutter
I have a feeling that, like me, you might struggle with clutter, too. Most people do.
It’s hard not to battle against stuff, whether you’ve inherited someone else’s belongings, can’t seem to keep up with your own possessions, or fend off an overwhelming barrage of digital clutter.
As much as I’d like to ignore the need to purge my belongings, clutter has an uncanny way of stealing so much peace. When my home or inbox or thought life are cluttered, I lose focus. Things are harder to find and I end up wasting time and getting frustrated trying to track things down. I get grumpy and my family gets grumpy when things aren’t in order.
No doubt about it, clutter robs peace and steals your time.
Whether you’re thinking of becoming a strict minimalist or would just like to simplify your life by getting rid of what you don’t need, you’ll need to put in effort as you conquer the clutter in your home. I’d love to share five things that are part of my best strategy in fighting the war against clutter.
The Best Strategy for Decluttering Your Home … in 5 Simple Steps
1. Set aside time to declutter.
Sometimes it might seem like clutter appears instantly, but you won’t be able to get rid of it in the blink of an eye. Even if you took a garbage bag and gathered everything up, that still would take time.
While it’s not always what you want to hear, decluttering an area of your home will take time.
Because of that investment of time, it’s a wise idea to find times to purge the cluttered spots in your home. In fact, making an appointment with yourself to declutter can be a really effective way to stick to a decluttering schedule.
2. Create a decluttering game plan.
Beginning a large decluttering project without a game plan is like heading out on a cross-country road trip without any directions. You’ll eventually get somewhere, but only after experiencing plenty of confusion and wasted time.
A decluttering plan of attack doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it might be as simple as choosing to start with your cleanest room first and working your way from the cleanest spots to the messiest. (Starting with the cleanest areas first can help you gain confidence and build momentum.) Or, you may need to focus on a special decluttering project that’s more urgent than other areas in your home.
The good news is that you know what clutter troubles you most. So you get to create a roadmap and follow through.
One super important detail to include in your planning? Make sure you stick with decluttering one space until you’re finished.
No flitting around from one cluttery spot to another cluttery spot. Stick to one room at a time … and stick to one project at a time. If you only have time to declutter one drawer, then just declutter one drawer. Once you’re finished with that project, however big or small, move on to the next thing.
3. Only keep what you can contain.
One amazing piece of advice I’ve gleaned from decluttering queen Dana K. White is this: If you view every basket, shelf, drawer, cupboard, and even room in your home as a container, only keep as much stuff as can fit in the particular container.
Instead of renting a storage facility because your home is too small, purge unnecessary belongings to fit the size of your actual home.
It’s incredibly freeing to visually see a limit and know you’ll need to get rid of excess items in order to fill a space. Granted, you’ll still be left with some hard decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of, but decide right away that you’ll only keep what you have room to keep.
4. Actually get rid of your clutter.
While it might seem like a no-brainer, the whole purpose of decluttering is breaking free from excess stuff.
That means you’ll actually need to get rid of it.
In other words, if you need to throw things away because they’re unusable, send them to the garbage right away. Don’t let filled trash bags pile up in another area of your home.
For the items you want to donate, drop them off at the donation center right away instead of driving around for weeks (or months!) with boxes and bags in your trunk. (Ahem … not that I’ve done this before.)
If you’re going to try to sell particular items, sell them right away. List them on Facebook Marketplace. Take them to a consignment store. Host a garage sale. If you can’t sell them, consider donating them just to get them out of your house.
The quicker you do actually part with the things you’ve purged, the quicker you’ll notice a difference in your home.
5. Stick with the process, even if it takes much longer than you expect.
Depending on how much stuff you have, decluttering may take a while. Some of the rooms in your home may take a couple minutes or hours to declutter, and some may take weeks or even months.
Keep working at it, though, no matter how long it takes or how frustrated you feel. Once you’ve decluttered a space, it can help to go back and look at your accomplishment. Admire your freshly decluttered areas as a way to get motivated to keep going in your battle against clutter.