At the beginning of each year, the putting away of Christmas decorations spurs me on to do more decluttering. Part of the ambition comes from the freshness of a new year. It’s a great time for a restart and refresh. Basically, out with the old and in with the new. Actually, if you were to ask my husband, I tend to be in declutter mode most all of the time. He tends to be a pack rat and I do my best to cure him of that or at least organize his stuff. Over time, I have developed a fairly good system for keeping our home clutter free.
Whether you realize it or not, a cluttered home does cause stress. A chaotic environment simply does not feel peaceful and relaxed. When everything is in order, other stresses are easier to handle. Even if your space is tidy, what happens when you open your closet door? Are you met with organization or a chaotic mess? An organized closet is a great place to start. Once you begin to declutter you will realize the freeing feeling that it gives.
Step By Step Declutter Guide
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Step One: Prioritize Rooms Or Spaces
When you think of decluttering your entire home, the task may seem too daunting. That is why it works best to break down the job into smaller spaces. But where to start? Think about which area of your home is causing you the most stress and work your way down from there. It really helps to start with an area that needs the most help while you are the most motivated. You will feel so good once you get that first space organized. This in turn, will motivate you to keep going with the rest of the house.
If you are having a hard time getting motivated at all, then start with a small space that will take the least amount of time to complete. Chances are, once you have completed that task you will be motivated to go on to something bigger to declutter.
For me, the job I dislike the most is going through our paper files at the beginning of the year. Although I am a fan of keeping digital records, there are times when we need to keep paper files. Our files really grow throughout the year and I feel so good once they are sorted and purged or transferred. Once that job is done, the rest is more of a cake walk!
Step Two: Sort
The part of decluttering that takes the most time is sorting. In the case of my paper files, I go through one file at a time. I then place the papers into piles for keeping, shredding, or transferring to another area where I don’t need the papers so handy. For instance, prior year tax records can go into another file box in our basement where I don’t need to access them frequently.
For other areas like kitchen cupboards or closets, I also create piles while sorting. I have one for keeping, one for donating or selling, and one for storing. You’d be surprised at the amount of items you find that you haven’t used or worn in at least a year! That means it is time to declutter! There is no sense in keeping these items especially when someone else may be able to use them.
Of course, there will always be some nostalgic items that you may want to store for future use. Be careful of this, however, or your storage room can quickly become too overwhelming. For instance, you probably don’t want to store all of your kids old toys for future grand kids. However, a few special items could be fun to save. Just getting them out of your living space will do wonders for getting rid of the clutter.
Step Three: Handle The Piles
The keep pile is the easiest. Simply put back want you want, in an organized way, and enjoy all of your extra space. You may want new or DIY storage containers for more organized storage. Whenever possible, use labels as well to make finding what you need easy.
Discard, Donate, Or Sell
Any items that you have that are in rough condition can just be thrown out. Other items could be treasures for someone else. Either donate them to a charity like Salvation Army or Goodwill, or sell them at a garage sale or online.
If you are going to sell any items, put them in a clearly labeled box until you have a garage sale or post them online. For items to donate, I recommend bagging or boxing them up right away and putting them in your car. Then, the next time you are out, you can take care of them. If you don’t do this, it’s easy to have those bags stack up. It would be a bummer to totally forget what is in the bags and have to sort them all over again!
Store For Future Use
Having a dedicated storage room with shelving is ideal for storing those items for future use. Use plastic bins with labels that stack together nicely. It works best to store like items together. This way it is easier to find what you need when you need it.
For small items, you may want to recycle some shoe boxes for storage. They are easy to stack and can be decorated for a nice clean look.
More Decluttering Tips
Display Or Say Goodbye
If you have been the recipient of nostalgic items, you may have trouble getting rid of them. For instance, my husband was saving a box of old tools that used to belong to his grandpa. Although they had some nostalgic value, they were just sitting in a box in our storage area. It really seems pointless to just store things and have them collect dust.
Instead, I suggested that my husband go through the box, pick his favorites, and display them as decor in our garage. That way, he could truly enjoy the vintage tools and the memories that go along with them. Whatever couldn’t be displayed needed to be donated. After all, if they were just going to go back in a box anyway, someone else might as well enjoy them.
Get Kitchen Utensils Out Of The Drawer
Drawers and cupboards can easily become a chaotic mess. The hidden storage areas are too easy to throw stuff into. A utensil drawer is just one example.
I used to have a large utensil drawer and hated it. Even with drawer dividers, the awkward size and shapes of the different utensils were difficult to organize. Instead, I like to use crocks in strategic areas. My largest crock is close to where I do most of my cooking and baking. I can see everything easily and within reach.
Minimize Decorative Accessories
Too much of a good thing is just clutter. When decorating, it’s best to display a few special accessories rather than an entire room of decor just because you have it. With fewer accessories displayed, the focus gets put on those special items and they are much easier to appreciate and enjoy. You don’t want that expensive vase hidden by a mass of trinkets.
Sometimes an accessory that you put in one room may be better suited for another. It’s fun to clear a room of decor and then purposely place the items that you want to showcase. Then with your leftover pieces, see if they have a fit in another room. It’s almost like reshopping! You’re just finding what you need from your own inventory.
Repurpose For Organization
As you declutter each room, take a look at your discard pile. Could any of the unused items be repurposed in another way?
While cleaning out my kitchen cupboards, I came across an old cupcake tin that I didn’t need or use. Instead of getting rid of it, I put it to another use. The tin was the perfect size for one of my kitchen desk drawers. It made it real easy to organize all of my small desk supplies.
Use A Shredder For Old Paperwork
If you have ever wanted to throw away papers with personal information on them, it can seem overwhelming. You can’t just throw them in the trash. They need to be destroyed so that no one else can get your information. This can lead to just saving a pile that grows and grows and grows until you figure out what to do with it.
A paper shredder is a must have to make this task easy. All you have to do is feed your papers through the shredder and empty into the trash when full. It’s best to dispose of the papers as soon as they are no longer needed. However, some documents need to be held for a year or more. That is why I like to go through my files once a year and purge what I no longer need.
How To Get Started With Decluttering
Create A Timed Declutter Period
When I used to have to tell my kids to clean their rooms, it could be a challenge to get them started. Usually the mess was just too big and overwhelming. So, to make it more fun I would give them a 15 minute challenge. I would start the timer and tell them to get as much off the floor and put away as they could in that time period. This usually would work to give them a good start.
You could do the same thing with your own spaces. Tell yourself that you don’t have to get a whole room done at once. Just see what you can accomplish in a short 15 minutes. You would be surprised at how much you can actually do. This is a great way to jump start your decluttering efforts.
Make A Repurpose Challenge
If you like creating things, you will love a repurpose challenge. Find something in your home that you no longer need and repurpose it for another use. For instance, a bookshelf overflowing with books may have one too many. Take an unpopular book and make it into a fun picture frame!
There are an endless amount of items that can simply be made into something else when they are no longer needed. You will want to check out my post on 50 Unique Ways To Repurpose Old Stuff. There are so many creative ideas to try.
Take A Picture Of Your Space
Sometimes after living in a space for awhile, the look starts to grow on us. Those accessories that we set out, because we don’t have another place for them, suddenly seem to fit in. That is, until you take a picture of the room. There is something about looking at a picture that brings all of the flaws in full focus.
When it is time to declutter a certain room in the house, take a picture of it first. Analyze what you do and don’t like about the space and then work to get it just right. It’s probably a good idea to take a picture after decluttering as well. Hopefully, you will see a big difference between the two photos!
Read More On Organizing Your Home
Now that you might be getting motivated to declutter, check out these other posts for even more helpful ideas.