Decluttering and organising your home is an ongoing process, and not something that is going to happen overnight. It can be difficult at times, but it is worth the effort, and you'll be happier owning less.
If you are just getting started on your decluttering journey, before you dive into your home, here are some tips to help you to stay calm and productive.
KNOW YOUR WHY
Before starting any home editing project , it is important to identify your goals and intentions for making a change. Everyone will have their own reasons for wanting to get organised, getting clear on yours will help you to keep focused and motivated throughout the process.
Planning out what you need to do, and most importantly why you need to do it, is the most important step.
Decide how you want your space to look and feel, and also how you are going to use and enjoy it. Keeping this in mind will help you stay motivated to get it done. It will also help you to make decisions on what items should stay in that space, and what you can let go of. If it doesn't fit into your goal and vision for that space, ask yourself why you are keeping it.
Write down the top 3 reasons why you want to declutter your home.
You need a plan. Specifically, where are you going to start and what are you going to do with the things you declutter. Are you happy to sell things? Will you be donating most of it? If so, where are you going to donate it to? Do you want to offer it to friends? Think about this before you start, so that you can sort things into categories as you go along.
You don't actually need much else to start decluttering(so don't use needing to buy things as an excuse not to get started!), but do make sure that you have boxes, bags and labels ready to sort your decluttered items for donation or recycling.
Your first step in the right direction doesn't have to be a big one.
Decluttering is an ongoing process.
If you look at the whole home, it can feel so overwhelming and easy to get defeated so declutter one room or space at a time. It can be part of a room or just one drawer. Dividing rooms up into smaller areas makes them more manageable. You will be more motivated to continue when you see the area that has previously been cleared.
If it took years to accumulate all that clutter in your home and it will take more than one afternoon or weekend to remove it. The makeover shows on TV where it gets done in a day are not reality.
Before you can begin decluttering, you need to decide where you are going to start. Either think about, and write down the spaces in your home that cause the most stress, or work your way around your home room by room, or by category.
Don't start start with sentimental items, instead start on an area where you will have the least sentimental attachment. If you come across an old photo album or memory box, put it to one side and have a look through once you've finished your session.
There is a free printable decluttering checklist on the resources and printables page to help if needed.
Manage your time and energy
Schedule in some regular time blocks (no more than 3 hours to begin with) where you can focus on decluttering, one area at a time, without interruption. Set a time to stop, so you don't get too tired and overwhlemed. If you've only got 30 minutes, just focus on one drawer or surface space. You will need to allow time for finishing off and removing the decluttered items.
Don't overdo it. Decluttering can be mentally and physically exhausting. If you try and take on too much too soon in a short period you're less likely to succeed in the long term. Set yourself one small task or area at a time and focus on this until it's completed, then move onto the next one.
TAKE BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS
Celebrate your decluttering success the same way that gyms and weight loss companies do - by taking before and after photographs. Record your starting point, then if you feel discouraged - look at the progress that you've made. You'll feel so proud of the changes that you'll see, it will motivate you to continue.
Always declutter your own things first
Don't start by trying to sort out a partner's things - even if it's the stuff that bothers you the most. They need to want to declutter and will be more likely to want to if they are not being forced. Once they see how much better you feel after simplifying your own things, they'll hopefully want to get involved too. If your decluttering and organising projects are going to affect other people, make sure that you let them know your plans before you start.
Always declutter before you organise
You can't organise clutter. Get rid of anything that you don't love or need. If you don't you won't make much difference and will end up just moving things from place to place and not achieving anything.
One characteristic of people who never seem to meet their goals of simplifying their homes is that they attempt to store everything without getting rid of anything. You can only plan where to store your things and what to store them in once you've decided what to keep and what to discard.
CREATE SORTING CATEGORIES
You will need to create sorting categories to help you to keep order throughout the decluttering process, e.g. Rubbish/Recycling, Donate, Relocate, Keep, Sell. Using different coloured bags and/or labelling the bags or area will help you to stay organised and clear on each category and where it needs to go. There are some printable category sorting labels in the resources and printables page.
GET unwanted things OUT OF YOUR HOUSE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE
Don't leave piles and bags of unwanted stuff cluttering up your home, you'll only be tempted to sneak items back out again and start re-thinking the decisions already made. Put donations in your car and arrange to drop them off as soon as you possibly can. I regularly come across bags of stuff when working with clients in their homes, that they had already decided could be donated, but resurface and have to be rechecked months (or even years) later because they didn't take them to the charity shop straight away.
If you decide to sell items, give yourself a time limit for getting them sold or donate them.
Don't buy any new storage until you have decluttered
You don't want to waste money on buying storage that you may not be keeping, and may not be suitable when you see what you have left to be stored. Get rid of all unnecessary items first. You may be able to reuse and repurpose storage from other areas that have been decluttered. Pretty boxes and baskets are tempting when you see them all displayed together in a store, but buying these without purpose can lead to more clutter.
Don't give up
It's easy to feel overwhelmed, especially to begin with, when the space can look worse than before you started. Look at the containers or bags that you are filling up to see what you are achieving. Take it one room, one cupboard or one drawer at a time and you will get there.
Don't ever feel that you have to do it all by yourself
If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of decluttering and organising your home, you find it hard to get motivated or if decluttering and organising just doesn't come easily to you, don't be afraid to ask a friend to help - You don't have to do it alone
Family, friends or professional organiser will help to motivate and support you and provide physical assistance to get it done.
They can also give you a new perspective. It's amazing how much clutter we lose sight of in our homes because we have become so used to it being there.
Prefer donating over selling
You can make more money by selling your clutter. And if you legitimately need the money - go for it. There are lots of websites and apps, or car boot sales where you can sell it. But be aware that trying to sell your clutter is time-consuming and often adds to the stress of decluttering. If money is not an immediate concern, sell your valuable items and donate everything else to a local charity.
Be okay with imperfection
Don't let perfect become the enemy of better, The first time you go through your home, you won't remove all of the clutter. You'll keep stuff that you don't need. You'll find it difficult to part with some items. You may even remove a thing or two you'll end up wishing you had kept. But you'll make progress. It won't be perfect straight away, but it will be better, and that's good enough!
Rememberm part of the process of decluttering is giving yourself permission to release items from your home.
Final tip! Believe in yourself. Once you've made your mind up to simplify your home, take one drawer, one cupboard or one room at a time, and you will get there.