What’s the best way to declutter your home? I’ve got you covered with a system that is SUPER easy and makes decluttering a breeze!
Before I decluttered my own home, it was so frustrating. I spend so much time shuffling things around trying to “organize”. Cleaning was a big challenge too because it’s hard to move around a bunch of extra stuff!
Not to mention the impact it had on my mental health. I felt anxious, annoyed and like a total failure because I (we) couldn’t keep our house clean. I would spend so much money each January on totes thinking storage was the solution. Hint: it’s not! You cannot organize clutter!
We need to make it our decluttering mission to make your current home, feel like an amazing whole new home. By the end of the year, you’ll be like “What clutter? What mess?”
I’ve got good news though, Linda, we are going to declutter your whole home with practical tips, and I‘m going to take any guesswork out of it.
So whether you are doing this in the new year or mid-year, let’s get to it!
The first thing in this a to z decluttering strategy: we need to do is figure out where you are
When you go on a road trip and you grab out your map app (or old-fashioned paper maps…they were hard to fold!) and you plunk in where you are before you can put in where you want to go,
So I love the idea of taking a few photos—before you panic and leave this article, I’m begging you, take the photos. It‘s like a photo in your bikini before starting a workout, not exactly fun, BUT you will be THRILLED when you compare the before and after and see all the amazing different ways your home feels and looks.
You can also write down (in your journal or elsewhere) HOW your home makes you feel. What sensations arise in your body when you start looking around or thinking of the clutter? For me, I often feel stress in my gut, and just the thought of clutter makes me feel awful.
I also love the idea of writing down a clear goal of what you want your space to feel when you’re finished. Don’t panic and think you need an interior designer or professional organizer. ANY plan will do to make a significant impact and create a tidy, cozy home.
This is helpful because if you start to declutter your living room and start getting overwhelmed, you can just revisit the photos (to see how far you’ve come) AND your journal to remember WHY you are doing this: to live your best life and feel a thousand times better at home.
Next, WHERE are you going to start decluttering
Say, you were going to run a marathon, you’d need to know WHERE to start, right? I bet it’s not ideal to start in a hard area like a hill.
What I often suggest is looking around your living space a choosing a spot that will:
a. make you feel Ahh-mazing when you’re finished
b. you can do quickly
So what areas fall into that category, it depends on your house!
Maybe a guest room with a closet that’s full. Tackle that closet and then walk by it and give yourself a high-five!
I am particularly fond of the junk drawer because usually it can be done quickly and you can enjoy it any time you open it.
Areas I suggest postponing are garages, storage areas and kitchens. These spots can be overwhelming (like starting your marathon on a hill) and might discourage you from continuing to create your amazing decluttered home!
How about the end of your kitchen countertop or other flat surfaces? I bet you could clear one of those off in as little as 15 minutes!
If paperwork doesn’t stress you out, perhaps start in your home office.
Whatever you do, don’t spend too much time making a final decision. Just get started!
Strategy: prep for success when decluttering a to z
Last year, I decided I was going to declutter a small area of my home: the laundry room. Closet actually, it gets cluttered and messy. It drives me nuts. Beyond channelling your inner Marie Kondo, it’s a great idea to do just a wee bit of preparations before you start.
You couldn’t run your marathon without a bit of prep right?
You’ll need some vessels to put your decluttered objects in. I suggest the 4-box method:
Grab yourself 4 boxes, laundry baskets, garbage bags or whatever can hold things!
A great way to organize them is the following:
Donate/sell – My suggestion when you sell something is to price it nice and low, like 20% of its original price (so it goes quickly) and not to sell anything worth less than $30. It’s just not worth the hassle. I usually end up donating most things though. Since I sell so few things, they can go in the donate/sell box while I do the decluttering process.
Garbage – for things that are clearly garbage (it’ll be there!), yucky, or broken and cannot be repaired.
Recycling – check with your local municipality or recycling centers to get an idea of WHAT can go where. Perhaps you can find a place for textiles and electronics which is SUPER helpful because you might have a box of cables like I used to!
Bring home – my favourite box! When you’re decluttering you know the right place things go, DO not leave, just wait. Throw those things in the box and bring them home when you’re finished decluttering.
A to z decluttering strategy steps 1, 2, 3
Believe it or not, there’s a right way and a wrong way to declutter, just like there’s a right and wrong way to run (that’s what my shin splints tell me anyway!)
These simple steps will help you work through the process quickly and declutter a whole lot at once!
Step 1. Choose 1 area to work through. If you’re doing your dresser, let’s do one drawer at a time.
Step 2. Pick an item up!
Step 3. Decide quickly. If it’s not a whole body HECK YES! Then it is a no (I do have some questions if you feel like there is more nuance needed)
Quick decisions in practice
Let‘s go through the a to z decluttering process.
Step 1. Decide on an area: the closet
Step 2. Pick up a piece of clothing
Step 2. Decide right away!
If we hem and haw, then there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to start looking for excuses to keep an item.
The following questions can help you to streamline this process to declutter your entire house.
Questions to declutter the easy way
You’re not running your amazing marathon! GOOD FOR YOU!
Do you like the item? This is a good question for artwork and the like. If you have a bunch of ornaments that were gifts from a well-meaning family member, but you‘re not in love with them, consider letting some (or all) of them go!
Do you need the item? You know what I need? My kitchen knives. Ok, I can LIVE without them, but I don’t want to. They seriously save me a tonne of time and energy. They help me chop up my veggies for my salads to stay healthy.
Do you use the item (wear it? use it? enjoy it?) Do you have multiples of the same item? This is great for clothes and things that we tend to keep yet never wear.
Is it a unitasker? These are things that can only do one thing. Great for decluttering things in the kitchen (or even your craft room)! Do you need an avocado scoop? MAYBE you do! Perhaps you have arthritis and it helps you out. SOME unitaskers make sense (you can take my toaster from my cold dead hands).
Swedish Death Cleaning questions
These questions are great when you have emotional clutter.
Does anyone want this when I die? Not to be morbid, but, well, you know it’s going to happen for us all. My grandma is hanging on to some of her Christmas stuff, but when he is gone, a few of us are going to take those decorations. She is not keeping a whack of things she hopes people will want. If someone is going to want some of your things, put them in a box to save it.
A word of caution, it can be VERY easy to say “Oh, I’ll just save this for my son/daughter/brother/neighbour/grandkids.” This is totally fine, but don’t get caught in the trap of keeping things for other people.
Do I want to burden anyone with these decisions after I’m gone? If you have kids or grandkids, do you want them to be going through piles of boxes and lots of clutter? OR worse, do you want strangers doing it?
Do I want to live with this for the rest of my life? Your life is worth a lot. Your environment matters. Do you want to surround yourself with a bunch of things because you can’t decide? No, no you don’t. Let go of what is not serving you.
Can’t decide? No problem!
Here’s a little decluttering strategy secret in this a to z method. If you’re struggling to decide, you can employ a little tactic I like to call THE PENALTY BOX!
I’m Canadian, so naturally, a penalty box makes sense since hockey is such a big deal (not to me per se, but definitely to my countrymen and countrywomen).
If you just can’t decide, put the item in the penalty box for a specified period: 1 month (good for something you find and think “Ooooh, I have one of these, awesome!), 3 months (clothes?), 6 months (good for things from a different season).
If you want to be extra bold go ahead and tape up that box when you put the items. If you don’t go looking for those items in the box, you could just blindly donate them WITHOUT UNTAPING THE BOX! Bold.
Go through your house, room by room
Every time you finish a room, I want you to high-five yourself! then choose a slightly harder room. Work through your house methodically.
YOU CAN DO THIS! Just keep going and don’t give up!
Put all the stuff where it goes: garbage, recycling, home. YOu know the deal with donating and selling. Just do it ASAP. If you’re not careful, you can end up with piles of things you mean to donate for years!
After you declutter
Just like after a race, when you’re drinking water, eating and relaxing, it’s similar to decluttering, but, well a little different:
You need to get rid of that stuff.
I LOVE the idea of immediately taking things to the donation centre. That’s not always practical, so I like to mark a designated day on my calendar for when to drop things off. If you have ADHD like me, add a phone reminder in for good keeping!
Friend, you just used this strategy to declutter from a to z! Yay!