Do you find yourself always frustrated cleaning after your spouse, kids, or even yourself? It can feel like the cleaning never ends. Is it your laziness to blame? Or having too much stuff?
I know from experience that when I accumulate lots of stuff, I tend to have a breaking point. That breaking point is having to clean, clean, clean. Why am I constantly cleaning my house?! It’s a forever work in progress and it’s driving me nuts! I can’t be the only one, am I?
I’m sure I’m not the only one but when I do clean and it’s spotless, there’s one other thing that gets me after a long day of deep cleaning.
My kid and his crackers.
Casually eating those crackers.
One bite after another.
No big deal.
I spot him across the room.
And my facial expression changes from laughter to horror.
It turns into a slow-motion scene where I run and fall on my belly, hands held out as I slide to save the crumbs from hitting the floor all while yelling “NOOOOO” in a dramatic way.
We can all agree that cleaning is just a small bit of what decluttering is. Decluttering is considered to minimize the amount of stuff you have in your house. Less stuff, more space.
Everybody wants more space but not everyone wants less stuff. Right? That’s the tricky part in decluttering. But don’t worry, we will go over what you can do to make it easier.
When I feel overwhelmed with cleaning, I know it is time to start decluttering. That’s when I start to purge and organize everything in sight. Or at least have a strong desire to.
Now, I know it’s easy to say, “I’m going to throw everything away!” or “Weekend is here so time to organize!” But truth be told, it’s not that easy. Where do you even start?!
Here are 7 ways to help start your decluttering mission:
1. Start Small
This may seem obvious to say, but honestly this is the best way to start. I usually start by picking a room. In that room, I target a spot that needs the most attention. From there I begin to assess what I am going to be going and how I am going to sort everything out.
Tips to thoroughly declutter:
- Pick a corner or a shelf and start pulling items out
- Make sure the shelf is empty
- Sweep, vacuum, or wipe down the space
- Sort out items you need versus don’t need
- Put similar items together in a pile (i.e. all the pens together, books, papers, etc.)
- Organize the items and place them into their new home
Placing similar items together will help alleviate the chaos and keep everything pleasant to the eye or that has meaning to you. Decluttering can be exhausting and cause you to have a mini-mental breakdown, but if you do everything in small increments, this will help digest the process better.
I would suggest 10-minute increments so you don’t overwhelm yourself.
I know it may seem like you could just bust out all your energy to declutter and do everything in one day. But truth be told, it’s hard work!
Break it down day by day:
- Monday- Declutter your bathroom cabinets, linen closet, and hallway closet
- Tuesday- Declutter bedroom closets, donate/purge clothes
- Wednesday- Go through books and magazines in the house
- Thursday- Declutter/organize your kitchen cabinets
- Friday- Organize all paperwork throughout your home, declutter office items
- Saturday- Declutter/organize living room, dining room, and other common space
- Sunday- Take a break
2. Create a Plan
Once you have taken out the items from your shelf, closet, or cabinet, you are ready to make a plan. What does that mean to make a plan?
This means to visualize what you want your space to look like. Keep in mind the goal you want to achieve. Ideally the less stuff, the better. Hopefully, you decide to purge things you don’t need and keep only the items you need.
I usually like to take the items that I use the most and place them in an easily accessible place. Anything else I find I don’t use in 6 months, I purge. I find that tip to be worth a million bucks. Why? Because when you’re stuck, that is a helpful deciding factor.
3. Gets Messy Before it Does Clean
Yes, it’s true. It gets worse before it gets good. The amount of stuff accumulated will shock you! At least it does for me. Every. Time. Like how did all this stuff get here? Was I really hoarding all this junk?
So for example, when I cleaned out my closet, I piled everything up on my bed. And trust me when I say, it looked like Mount Everest…. it looked like Mount Everest. Once you start going through piece by piece, it’s like this “mountain” isn’t getting any smaller. And it will feel overwhelming. But eventually you will feel like you are defeating this monstrosity one thing at a time.
You have to keep in mind that making a mess it part of the process and this is just another hump you need to get over. Getting all the items out into a pile will help you to go through your items and see what you need to keep or purge.
Ugh. I know the feeling of getting stuck on a closet that seems to be a piece of work.
You look at that item and tilt your head sideways not knowing where to place that thing, in the garbage, or back in the closet.
Well like said previously before, if it’s been in your space for 6 or more months without usage, it’s time to purge!
This trick puts everything into perspective. How? Well, if you really needed it, you would have used or worn that item already.
The solution to that “someday, I will use it” mentality, is let’s make that day now! Or part with it.
If you are still stuck, try putting those items in a “Maybe Box”.
Can’t decide at that very moment? Put it aside and keep going. Exhausted as you may be, keep pushing through the tough parts, it will eventually become very easy and will seem like you can purge anything!
5. Don’t Guilt Yourself
Once you’ve got the ball rolling, and you start purging everything in sight, don’t guilt yourself. It may feel like you are throwing everything away and now you have nothing left. This is not true! Decluttering is a healthy way to de-stress.
Decluttering is a form of therapy if you will. The amount of stuff you might have has been mentally weighing you down without you realizing it.
But once those items are gone and you’ve moved on, you’ll feel so much better. Almost like you are getting a fresh new start.
6. Clear Space, Clear Mind
Like mentioned before, decluttering may take on a new form of therapy; clear space equals a clear mind.
When you come home from a hard day at work, the last thing you want to do is come home to a messy space. To see all the clutter, papers stacked, clothes piled up in the corner, and random knick-knacks everywhere. So it does play a huge role to declutter your home.
I know from my experience, in order for me to work on homework with my son, it needs to be clutter-free in that room. Otherwise I can’t focus on what I need to do and instead I am distracted by the mess around me and it eventually consumes me.
7. Take Pictures
Yes, you read that right. Take pictures of the sentimental items you have. In the case of being a minimalist, you may want to keep everything on a hard drive and not necessarily physically taking up space.
I listed this as the last tip because it’s hardest to get rid of items that mean so much to you. In previous tips, we went over the aspect of ridding things that you are not sure about. Well, here we have an even harder decision. The decision of getting rid of sentimental items.
If the item means a lot and there’s no way you can get rid of it, then keep it!
If you have your kid’s artwork that you love but don’t want to hang on to anymore, take a picture of it! When you want to look at it, you can, anytime!
Pictures that I had from ages ago, I made sure to scan and upload them into my cloud storage. That way, if I ever wanted to print out the picture and have it handy, I could! But for now, I will save on space and keep as few items as possible.
You can do this with all your sentimental things. The probability that you will miss that item is slim. Once you have gotten rid of that item and it’s gone physically, the chances of you needing it back is rare.
Think of it this way, it was laying in your garage, kitchen, or room and you have never used it. What makes you think you will use it again? It’s been 2 years!
Don’t beat yourself up for decluttering your whole house. The relief of bringing out the garbage bags outside is very satisfying.
Now that you have an idea of how to declutter, it’s time to get to work!
I must warn you though, decluttering is tiring and exhausting. The end result is what matters the most! Work in 10-minute increments, turn on some t.v., blast the music. Do whatever works for you to get through the work that lies before you.
Remember that you can do this! And getting rid of stuff is the best feeling in the world, followed by getting a massage.