Where to start decluttering?
That’s the million dollar question for many of us. With the start of a new year (and a new decade!), I’m in the mood for a fresh start, some thoughtful nesting and creating simplicity in my life and home. Believe it or not, this can all be achieved with some good old fashioned decluttering.
I know – eeek – decluttering!
Yet, this issue would have to be the number one struggle and frustration I’ve heard from my customers and readers over the past 7 years. What about you? Maybe you can relate to one of these clutter-related comments below:
- “We have too much furniture but not enough space. There’s too many things but no room to put it all, so everything piles up.”
- “My rooms don’t seem to flow and contain a mish-mash of new and inherited furniture and too much of it.”
- “Every room has some level of mess wherever I look, particularly piles of paper and baby items of our one year old.”
- “All the little bits and pieces of decor items make my home look cluttered instead of stylish, I don’t know what to keep or how to place them in my rooms.”
And so on. It’s pretty clear that we all struggle with things piling up over time, or not knowing how to place furniture and decor items or we lack storage space so our rooms become messy and cluttered.
Clutter in your home, clutters your mind
The more stuff we have, the harder it is to find things and mentally it can become overwhelming. Believe it or not, decluttering your home doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming, but It is essential to tackle it if you want to make your home a happy and peaceful space to be in.
But you won’t need to become a Marie Kondo ninja to win the clutter battle (I promise!). Not every object in our homes can ‘spark joy’ nor is it meant to. Many things in our home are simply meant to be useful and make our lives more functional. Other things are meant to be used only at certain times and yet others are meant to be part of a significant and meaningful past.
With a little planning and some organisation tips, I’m here to tell you that it is possible to declutter your home easily, so that it looks, functions and feels so much better to live in!
To avoid overwhelm, the best way to deal with a really big job is one little bit at at time. Therefore, I’ve found the best way to declutter is to tackle your home one room at a time over the course of the year.
Pssst! Once you start, it’s a little addictive…
Whaaaat!?! Yes, you heard right! The thing about regular decluttering is once you start, it becomes a little addictive.
The addictive decluttering I’m talking about here is very different than Compulsive Decluttering, which is a form of OCD, (where clutter causes extreme anxiety, to the point that life is challenging, because we do require a certain amount of possessions to live, but often the person with the disorder seeks an empty, clear and sterile environment).
What I find is the act of decluttering and the end result, is what is enjoyed. It gives a sense of accomplishment and exhilaration from seeing the room transformed.
So let’s get started… here’s my approach and plan of attack for the year ahead. Grab a pen and paper, then write down a numbered list 1 through 12 to represent each month for this year.
Next, write down one room next to each number. I’ve got a 2 story home so it’s always much hotter upstairs in Summer, so I plan to declutter the downstairs rooms in the hotter weather and upstairs rooms in the cooler seasons.
Here’s my list for 2020:
- Entry & Hallway
- Dining Room
- Master Bedroom
- Main Bathroom
- Bedroom 2
- Bedroom 3
- Guest Bathroom
- Living Room
- Under stairs closet
Depending on the size of your home, your list may have more or less rooms to fit the list of 12. So, if you have more than 12 rooms, then group a big room with a little space like a linen cupboard or entry hall. If you don’t have 12 rooms in your home, then you can just make a shorter list. Lucky you!!
If you’re new to this, I’d recommend you start decluttering your home with a small room first. That way you can feel the elation of a win quicker. If an entire room seems too overwhelming, then just tackle one drawer or cupboard at a time each weekend over the course of the month. And then move on to the rest of the room from there.
You can then tackle a bigger or more time consuming room the next month. The goal here is to choose one room to focus on in a month. You can choose to do this in one weekend or over a few weekends in that month – whatever works best for you.
Regardless of which room you start with, the decluttering process will always be the same. Start by taking everything out of your cupboards, drawers and/or shelves and place it in another room on the floor or a table/bed so you can sort through it after the deep clean.
The deep clean
There is something positive that happens psychologically when you have an empty room and it’s all clean. When I declutter a room, I take the opportunity to not only sort through #allthethings but I also to do a deep clean of the room before I starting sorting my clutter and putting things back. This way, you know that every year your entire home has had a thorough clean out and each year it gets quicker and easier to maintain.
This includes wiping down all surfaces such as drawers, cupboards, walls, vacuum floors and wiping over or washing anything that looks dusty and if sorting the bedroom I even wash clothes I haven’t worn in awhile just to freshen everything up. The feeling of satisfaction of standing in an empty and clean room really is worth the extra effort.
Sorting and decision making:
I always like to sort things into main categories before I actually go through things in any detail. That way you can move quicker and less procrastination occurs. Think about how you use things in the space. For example, I recently helped my girlfriend who is a Naturopath, sort out her home clinic room. Over the course of time, it had become cluttered with personal and professional things crammed into cupboards making it hard to find anything. So we started by broadly separating personal items (books, CD’s, DVD’s, wrapping paper,cards and Christmas decorations) from professional things. After this was done, the more detailed sorting process could begin.
This process sparked off a desire for my girlfriend to also repaint the room and get some new office furniture! It’s always so much easier to visualise how you want to use a space when it’s a blank canvas and you’ll find you are much more mindful and intentional about what you put back in the space.
As you begin to sort through the main categories (ie. books, clothes, makeup, pantry items, kitchen utensils and so on), create three main piles:
- Keep it
- Sell it or donate it
- Throw it away
Questions to Ask When Decluttering Your Room
As you go through your things, you need to ask yourself these questions:
1. Is this item beautiful?
Of course, we don’t just want a clutter-free home. We want one that is beautiful too. If you love something because of its beauty – like you’d actually go out and purchase it in the store today – and you have the space for it, it can stay.
Side note: beauty is subjective. So, what I may find beautiful, you may not. And vice versa. Only you can decide the answer to this question in your house.
2. Is it useful?
There are a few things that can JUST be beautiful in your home, but there will be many more things that serve a functional purpose. They are useful items. If you genuinely need something, it can stay.
Now along with this question there is the additional question of “is this the only thing that can be useful in its way”? If you have somehow collected 3 can openers over the years, they’re technically all useful…but you really don’t need three can openers! Get rid of two and keep the best one.
3. Is it sentimental?
This one can be a bit of a tricky question to answer. We’ve likely all been given things from family or friends that we didn’t choose to have. But for one reason or another, they hold sentimental value.
For example, my dad passed down to me my grandmother’s dinner and food serving set. It’s a patterned off-white bone China with a gold rim. But until recently, I felt like it was too good to use and I didn’t have the space for it, so it lived in a box in my garage until I decided to use it and got rid of my cheaper everyday plates and bowls so I had room to store it. If you have something similar, you will need to decide whether to use it or store it based on space.
Another example from our house. Years ago, I was given my other Grandmother’s French antique mirror stand. I kept it for a long time. I loved it because I adored her and it was hers. But when my style and the size of my house changed, I realised it just wasn’t working for us anymore. Now my sister has it.
The sentimental question is something ONLY YOU can answer. But you also have to ask yourself, are you keeping something out of guilt? Or a genuine desire to keep it?
How do you know whether to donate or chuck something?
Owning less is better than organising more! If something is showing major signs of wear and tear, you should probably throw it out. If it’s still in good shape, then donate them to family. friends or charity. It’s also a good idea to remove the donation and throw away items from your sight and your house asap! That way you can’t change your mind…or create new clutter with bags and boxes of things to get rid of.
That’s it. If something is beautiful, useful or extraordinarily sentimental in value, you keep it. If they’re not, you can either donate them to family. friends or charity, or throw them out.
Decluttering isn’t permanent
Do you want to know the one thing that no one wants to tell you about decluttering your home? The thing I’m even a little afraid to tell you? You can’t just do it once and it’s done forever. It’s sorta like thinking you can shower once and not have to shower again. Or do the dishes and the laundry once and it’s done for good. Although, thankfully, it can be done with far less frequency than showering, dishes and laundry.
Accept that decluttering your home is a repeatable process, so it doesn’t creep back in. Once you have decluttered, things will still get messy. That’s life. Like kids toys or kitchens and entryways. Even if you become more strict with what comes into your house, inevitably drop zones, cupboards and drawers will collect odd things, broken gadgets and all manner of papers.
I’m also not going to BS you and tell you that it’s easy peasy. But it is simple. That’s why I love my 12 month decluttering list, it reminds me each month which room to focus on and being only one room I can give it my full attention without feeling overwhelmed by the rest of the house.
You now have a plan of attack and steps to declutter your home in 2020 and kick off this new decade with a bang. I know that you can do it too, beautiful… you really can! Decide this is the month to start.