Okay, maybe not how you expected this article on easy decluttering tips to start out but still this is a pretty big deal you being here. This is your first step, your day one, your “ready to remove the mess and create a home you love” starting point and attention must be paid. Kudos must be given and champagne bottles must be uncorked.
Hmmm….. just a bit over the top? Maybe. But, then again, maybe not.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to cleaning out a home is the whole “getting started” first step and if you are here you just technically started…so check that baby off of your decluttering check-list.
Speaking of lists, why not grab this one and really make this decluttering thing a piece of cake.
But seriously, all kidding aside, your state of mind is more or less what is actually keeping you stuck in place. And if you are mentally ready to make a change then the physical steps should be easy. Simple even. All you need is a guide on what to do first, then second, then third.
I like to call these the pre-steps. The first 3 things everyone should do before they begin decluttering any area in their home.
First – Remove the trash and recyclables.
Second – Put things away that have a definite home.
Third – Find homes for things you can see right off that you need to keep.
These pre-steps or core steps are your second nature to-do list. One you can fall back on without thinking each and every time you prepare to clean out a space.
Usually, what we think is clutter is actually items that need to be thrown away (like paper plates, empty bags, or junk mail) or put away (like clothes, toys, or dishes). Once you remove those items, the things that have a home, you will be better able to see what’s left, and more often than not it is a fraction of what you thought.
Those steps are game-changers. Simple, easy, habits that once incorporated into your daily life will keep rooms neater and more enjoyable to be in.
But maybe you are not quite to that point yet. Maybe you are still in the planning stages. Taking this whole decluttering thing for a test drive before making a commitment. And that is a-okay. Required even.
Nowhere does it say that every single person in this world should WANT to declutter. That a minimalist home is a requirement to live here. To be honest, most if not all, people have clutter somewhere in their home. Even the minimalists have a spot in their home that is a bit of a cluttered mess. Sure it may only be a drawer, but they have it and that is the point here.
The problem is not in the clutter itself, the problem is when the clutter has taken control of your mental happiness and turned you into a stressed-out mess.
And unless you want it, really really want it, you simply won’t stick with it.
This is where I like to implement a clutter-free test drive. A way for you to see if fewer things in your home are going to help you love where you live.
Before we dive into my easy decluttering tips let’s first talk about our stuff.
What is clutter?
Clutter is anything that doesn’t have a home. More specifically, any items that you do not keep in a specific area. Like dishes in a cabinet. Or clothes in a dresser. If it has a home that means it is not clutter, but instead, something that simply needs to be put away. And sometimes putting things away might be all you need to do.
Knowing exactly what clutter is, or more specifically, exactly what YOUR clutter is will help to make this process of letting go a lot easier. This is why I encourage you to follow the 3 Crucial Steps prior to decluttering. (Use the link above to read more.) This will better help you to identify the exact items you need to deal with.
Easy Decluttering Tips – Test Driving Clutter-Free
Step #1. Pick a room in your home that is a bit of a cluttered mess.
I normally suggest a family room. A place that probably is chaotic but not so full of clutter that you can’t even visualize the finish line. Remember we are just trying things out here. Finding out if the end result is enough to help you take the hard steps to get there. A family room is also a good choice because it is used to relax in. To put your feet up at the end of a long day. How nice would it be to do this on a coffee table that has no piles of papers, games, toys, or dishes on it?
Not sold on the family room?
Why not your bedroom then? Again, a place that is meant to help you relax and recharge. Something that can be a bit tricky to do if you are in the middle of a cluttered mess.
The point is to pick an area in your home that, if completely clear of excess things, would help you better visualize a clutter-free home.
Step #2. Gather up boxes and totes.
You are going to need a place to put the stuff and for that, a good sturdy box or a few plastic totes with lids will work just fine. Remember this is only a temporary fix. A way to see if your head WANTS to be clutter-free before you dive into the entire home.
And the very best way to see…. is to do.
Label each container with the exact room from where the items came from. Your things will only remain in these containers for a short time, so label each specifically so you know what is where when you put it all back later.
Step #3. Grab a trash can.
As you are filling up boxes you will find trash along the way. Have a trash can close by to toss things into so you do not get distracted. More often than not what we think is clutter is actually items that need to be tossed or recycled. Remove those things and uncover the stuff that you need to be dealing with.
This step is crucial and one if taken every single time before you begin a new decluttering project will help remove a large amount of overwhelm that comes with a project this size.
Step #4. Have a few clothes baskets.
I love clothes baskets. Especially these. They are so handy to use when gathering up things that need to be put away in another room. As you are filling up boxes in this area and you find something that belongs in another, toss it into your clothes basket. When you declutter without overwhelm it is important to not burry items you use often. This step will help eliminate all of that.
When your basket is full, just take a walk around your home putting things away. Super simple and a great habit to have to help keep clutter from getting out of hand again.
Step #5. Start decluttering.
Fill each box with the things in your room. If, as you go, you see trash toss it in your trash can. If you see items that belong in another area, toss it in your clothes basket. Work your way around the room filling up boxes and totes until the clutter is all gone. As you fill a container be sure to label and date it. This date is important as you try out a clutter-free room.
D/M Pro Tip: Set a reminder of 2 weeks from this date on your phone. This is your tap on the shoulder reminding you that there are boxes you need to sort through or donate altogether.
Step #6. Store the boxes out of the way.
You can do this either in the room you just cleaned out by stacking things in a corner, or in another open area in your home. The key here is to be sure these boxes are out where you will see them often. This visual reminder will tell you that this is just a dress rehearsal and a chance to see if you love before you try.
Remember the time limit you set in step #5. That is your line in the sand and one you need to stick to like glue. When the timer is up, move to step #8.
Step #7. Enjoy!
Take a few weeks to really enjoy your space. Look around, relax, breathe deep. Really get the feel of the room. Do you love it, really love it? Do you find yourself and your family gravitating to this room every day?
Why is that? Really analyze your thoughts and feelings. This is important and not a step to gloss over here. You need to know, really know, if a clutter-free home is something you will love.
I think one of the reasons so many clutter-bugs fall back into old habits is because they are not fully prepared for a cleaned out space. This exercise can be life-changing. Once you know how you and your family will feel with the result, then you can begin to declutter with confidence.
Step #8. Back to the boxes.
Now, that you have had a chance to try, enjoy, and experience the end result, this next step should be a bit easier to tackle. Do not be tempted to put these boxes off to the side only to be absorbed back into the clutter. Deal with the contents inside so you are better able to tackle the next space in your home.
It’s this hands-on approach that will help you realize that your attachment to your things needs to change. Needs to be adjusted in a way that instead of seeing items that you can’t remove, you instead see things that are quite possibly smothering you and your family.
Touch. Deal. Decide.
And then move on to the next item.
Be selfish here. Look at each item and ask yourself. Does it deserve a spot in this cleaned out and clutter-free room? Is it something you love and want to see every time you are in this area? Are you willing to give up that feeling of a cleaned out room to give a spot to this item? If the answer is yes, keep it and put it where it belongs. If the answer is no, then either donate it or find a home for it somewhere else in your house.
It’s this new outlook of your things that will have you more emotionally attached to the clutter-free space rather than the things that were in it.
This unique approach to decluttering is not for everyone. The try it first then declutter it is something that will only appeal to a few folks out there. But, knowing there are options, different ways to create a home you love is something that can help you continue to move forward. I don’t want you to see decluttering as a long list of rules. Instead, see it as the pathway to create a home you want to be in rather than the one you avoid.
Easy decluttering tips are just that…easy. And sure, in theory, they may sound simple but they all still require work. Intentional work you need to do as you set up new habits on how you not only view your home but the items you choose to keep in it. Slow and steady is the key to getting things cleaned out with overwhelmed and also the secret behind a newly decluttered room staying that way.