Wouldn’t it be great if you could wave a magic wand and have your home completely decluttered, cleaned, and organized? In one swoop you could have every room neat and tidy. Every item in its place without breaking a sweat. And what if you also had systems set into place that where there to help you keep each and every room clean and clutter-free.
And while we’re at it, let’s also magically create a schedule. One that guides you through your days instead of dragging you through them. One that helps you from task to task keeping your focus on what you are doing instead of what you are skipping.
Okay, that would be pretty great…not going to lie.
But let’s talk about that for a minute.
What is a planner? Scratch that…What is a good planner?
A planner is a group of pages or sheets of paper that are set up in a way to prompt you on how best to create lists that cover daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Basically, all the items you need to do so that you stay on top of things. This covers your family, finances, cleaning, home projects, gardening, even holidays.
A good planner not only gives you those prompts, but it also provides specific pages that allow you to break things down and spread them out. This means that instead of constant projects that are intimidating enough to keep them off of your list you have small tasks that you can sprinkle throughout your weeks. Tasks that take just a few simple minutes to complete.
An average planner gives you vague pages that you need to tweak so they work for you. A good planner gives you the exact pages you need so you can start using them right away.
An average planner leaves you to your own devices. Struggling to figure out how best to use the pages so they are a tool and not a frustration. A good planner guides you through the sections one by one so you are using each page to its fullest potential.
Why do you need a planner in the first place?
It’s true what they say. A goal without a plan is only a dream.
And this is also true in our homes and with our clutter, maybe even more so. It’s true that goals can sometimes be motivating enough to overcome a lengthy and unfocused list.
Well, at least for a while. But that motivation can quickly die off leaving you right back where you started.
Running a home without a plan is only going to cause you more work later on. By keeping up on all the things that need to be done as you go along, you will save yourself from having to do weekend marathon labor sessions. Week after week after week.
But wait a minute.
You are here for a plan. A specific plan that will help you declutter. And maybe you are thinking to yourself, what does decluttering my home have to do with a planner.
Whether you are decluttering the counters in your kitchen or doing a full home cleanout you must have a plan. Something that will help you stay focused so you don’t burn out before the job is done.
A decluttering plan that will guide you along step by step. Section by section. Donation bag by donation bag. Until you have it all cleaned out and tidy.
Before we dive into the logistics of your decluttering plan let’s go over a few things first.
What is clutter?
Clutter is basically anything that does not have a home. A specific place where you keep each specific item so when you need it you know exactly where to find it.
Let’s think about your silverware.
This is something that just about every single home has a specific place for. A drawer that is meant to do one thing. Hold the knives, forks, and spoons so that when it is time for you to eat you can find the specific utensil you need to get the job done.
A clutter-free home takes this simple concept and applies it to everything inside. From towels to tools. Pens to the television remote. Each item has a specific place where it can be found at all times. Every time. By anyone.
Why should a home be clutter-free?
It’s no secret that stress can make you sick. There have been extensive studies over the years on that very thing. But, what you may not know is that clutter causes stress. Both mentally and financially. Clutter has this frustrating way of distracting our minds whenever we are near it. As Psychology Today mentions, it makes us feel as if our work is never done. Like a nagging thorn in our big toe, it can needle away at us with every step like a neon sign.
If removing the clutter can not only stop the nagging and needling but allow us to be healthier then you just gave yourself a pretty convincing argument for why this project is one you probably should tackle sooner rather than later.
If you are still sticking with me, then the next question in your mind right about now is probably this; where should you keep each of your things?
Lucky for us the answer is really quite simple.
For each item you find that you know does not have a home, ask yourself this.
If I needed this item, where would be the first place I would look?
If you are not yet sure of the exact place yet, (don’t worry – it will come) at the very least ask yourself; where is the first room I would look?
At the very least you want to narrow down the location just a bit until you can fine-tune this new way of thinking.
What is a decluttering plan?
A decluttering plan is a road map that will take you from step one to step 10 until everything is cleaned out and organize. It is by far my favorite tool to use when cleaning out and cleaning up a home.
Once you find one and fill it out, the pages will guide you through each room one by one until your entire home begins to take shape. It removes the overwhelm and frustration that so often accompanies a project like this.
Does this sound like you?
You walk into your kitchen after a long day. There is stuff all over the counters and kitchen table. The sink is full and the dishwasher is loaded waiting to be run. There is food on the counter because there is no room in the pantry and so many papers tacked to the refrigerator you can barely find the handle. The trash is overflowing and the cabinets are a complete mess. You roll up your sleeves with grim determination and dive in. After an hour of jumping from mess to mess you take a break to admire your work.
And you see that things are worse now than before you started!
The reason for this is so simple you may not see it. Sure, you began with good intentions but you missed a very important step. You forgot to create a plan. A step by step path to follow so things look better as you go along instead of worse.
Worse means you give up and walk away.
Better means you begin to get excited at what the end result will be.
How to create a decluttering plan.
Let’s break this down step by step to help make things a bit easier to tackle. Remember, small steps are easy and when you are creating a home you love…easy is the key to it all sticking.
Step #1. What is your goal?
So many times we do without thinking and for some chores, like washing the dishes, that is just fine, but in this case, you are transforming and with any transformation, you need a “why”. That “why” is your finish line. Your trophy so to speak.
Take a minute to identify your “why” and write it down on an index card.
Post that card where you can see it so you remember what your end goal is. The finish line you are working so hard to reach with your decluttering plan.
Step #2. What is your deadline?
Knowing how much time you have to completely declutter and organize a room is more important than most folks realize. When you give your project a deadline it ensures you will actually get it done. A project without a deadline is just an idea that will never come to fruition. Take a minute to give yourself a “complete by” date.
This could be for a party, family gathering, or for your own satisfaction. By confirming a date in writing you are flipping a switch in your mind that this is more than an idea but instead a project that must be done.
Step #3. How long will it take?
Since there is no exact way of knowing how long each room is going to take you will want to just do an estimate. The easiest way to do this is to actually go into the space you hope to transform. Take a good look around and mentally list out the things you need to do. As you do this keep a running tally of the time for each task. To be safe round-up 1/3 of the total time you have set.
So, for example, if you think you will need 3 hours to declutter and clean out your closet then add on an additional hour (1/3 of 3) just to be safe.
Step #4. Make a list.
Next on your decluttering plan, you will want a list of all the parts of your project. From decluttering to cleaning and finally to organizing. Be sure to list every single part so you can just go through your list on autopilot confident nothing will get left out.
I find it best to make this list when I am actually in the space I am working on. Seeing things in real-time helps to better create a list that is complete. Using a clipboard, write everything down no matter how much you think you will remember. Trust me, you won’t. Out of sight is definitely out of mind here so put every single task down on your list so you don’t have to worry about a job that is only partway done.
Step #5. How much time do you have?
Go back to step number 2 and look at your “finish by” date. Next, take a look at your family, work, and personal schedule. Take into account how much time you can dedicate to this project each day or week. Using a bright colored marker, writing in the words “work on decluttering/organizing ________”. Use this same marker to fill in time blocks to work on your space being sure all the time you have allotted is blocked in.
So, for example, if we are using our last example of 3 hours + 1 hour additional, you will need to fill in time blocks in the amount that fits your schedule until the full 4 hours is accounted for.
D/M PRO TIP: Don’t underestimate the power of a minute. You may just be surprised at how much you can get done in just a few minutes. Cleaning out your underwear drawer takes 10 minutes. Washing the woodwork in your closet just 5 minutes. And sorting through jewelry 8 minutes. Take advantage of the smaller pockets of time to really make a dent in your decluttering/organizing project.
Step #6. Begin.
Now that you have a schedule and a list, all you need to do is follow along. Just like with a complicated recipe follow along step by step knowing that in the end, you will have a beautiful dish. Don’t skip anything. Be thorough and intentional with every step on your list and in your schedule. Remember, this plan is meant to make this project easier for you to do and in the end maintain. Focus just on each small step at a time and try to be as thorough as possible.
Putting your decluttering plan altogether.
Let’s see this plan in action so you can really visualize the benefits and get that little dance in your belly that this just might be possible after all.
You had a long day and all you want to do is put on sweats and plop down in front of the television. You see on your schedule that you have 10 minutes blocked off to sort through the scarves in your closet. Instead of being frustrated you are excited that you will be able to take another step closer to your goal of a cleaned out and organized closet. You put on headphones and begin your playlist of songs.
D/M PRO TIP: Have a playlist on your phone of songs for these quick projects. Label them by length so you can find the music blocks you need quickly. 5 songs equal approximately 20 minutes. Set up a block for 10, 20, 30, 45, and 60 minutes labeling each accordingly. Music has a way of distracting our minds so we can better focus on the job at hand. Also, music time blocks act as a timer to keep you focused so you can get the job done in the time you have allocated.
After just 3 songs you have gathered up all of your scarves, sorted out the ones you want to keep, and tied them onto a hanger in a simple and organized way.
Another item checked off your closet’s to-do list and just like that you are back to your goal of getting on the couch to decompress.
By having a decluttering plan you will finally be able to work your way through your home. Room by room, drawer by drawer, closet by closet. By breaking things down into small pocket-sized tasks you will remove the overwhelm of this daunting project and now be able to look at it as just another item on your weekly to-do list.
Before you know it you will begin to see your home transform from its cluttered state into a home you truly do love.
Now that you know how to create a decluttering plan, let’s dive into that closet! Head over and read: SIMPLE RULES FOR CLEANING OUT YOUR CLOSET and get started today!