Simple Ways to Start Decluttering
Question: When the doorbell rings unexpectedly, do you panic? Not because you’re scared of who is on the other side. But because you have piles of crap and disorganized mess in plain sight, and you’re downright mortified for anyone to see it?
Raise your hand if this is you. (Both of my hands are in the air right now.)
Do you need to start decluttering your home, too? Listen, I’m feeling very overwhelmed with the clutter I’ve collected this past year. To get in the decluttering mood, I watched a few episodes of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend checking it out.
In addition, I’ve been searching for decluttering tips and advice. I honestly feel better when I see how many people need help with getting organized at home.
Still, I have serious challenges when it comes to decluttering. Here’s what I’m learning:
Decluttering is Hard to Start
I struggle to get rid of things.
- I’m worried that if I get rid of something, I will end up needing it again but won’t have it.
- I tend to keep things for sentimental reason, which has contributed to much of my clutter.
- It’s really hard to focus on decluttering. I’m easily distracted and overwhelmed when I attempt to simplify at home.
Decluttering Your Home is Beneficial
Decluttering makes me feel better.
- Decluttering gives you more space, both physically and mentally. Not only do you have more room in your home, but you no longer have that junk causing you stress, worry and distraction.
- Cleaning and organizing helps reduce stress and anxiety. When things are out of order it can be chaotic and make us feel anxious. Creating a sense or order feels peaceful and calming.
- Decluttering can help us to be more mindful about purchases we make in the future.
I Struggle with Analysis Paralysis
Should it stay or should it go?
I sometimes have a hard time making progress because I often get stuck. Do you? Ask yourself these questions as you go through your items.
- Have I used it in the past year?
- Will I use it in the coming year?
- Would I buy this again?
If decluttering feels overwhelming, start small.
- One recommendation is to just start with a small space….maybe a small room, the pantry, a closet. You can even start with a drawer or shelf. The most important thing is to get started.
- Another way to counter the feeling of overwhelm is to schedule a block of time – whether it’s a 15 minute block or a 2 hour block. Schedule the a time when you won’t have interruptions or distractions. Set a timer. Don’t try to take it all on at once. You’ll be more successful if you break it down into manageable chunks of time.
What Should You Do With All of the Stuff?
Use the box strategy to remove clutter.
One simple strategy I’m using is the box method. Designate four boxes for sorting. Label them trash, donate/sell, storage and keep.
- Trash – For any item that you do not need or want, but that is not worth donating or selling. For example, damaged, worn out or items that no longer work.
- Donate or Sell – If you think someone else could benefit from or use the item, donate it or sell it. If you donate have enough “sell” items for a garage sale, consider selling online with eBay or Craigslist.
- Storage – If you can’t part with a item, but don’t use it regularly, just store it. Put items that you cannot part with but do not need on a regular basis in this box. Think seasonal clothing, etc.
- Keep – These are items that you use on a regular basis. But ask yourself: Do you really need it? If so, come up with some type of storage option that works within your home. But be mindful of bringing in more stuff. Only bring in essential organizing items that you will actually use. Otherwise, you’re adding to your clutter!
Letting Go of Sentimental Items is Difficult
It’s okay to let go of Memorabilia and Sentimental items.
Raise your hand if your senior prom dress is hanging in your closet. Or you have a box of birthday cards under the bed, or odds and ends from your grandmother’s wardrobe.
- Sometimes, these items are more about the memory than the object itself. Ask yourself if these items truly bring you joy, or are they just taking up space? If the item is really about the memory it holds, but isn’t serving you, then it’s probably good to let the item go.
- Keeping an item because you feel like you have to is also a no-no. Just because someone passed along an item to you does not mean you have to keep it, nor should you feel guilty for getting rid of it.
- If you simply can’t bear to toss everything, consider keeping a part of a collection. For example, one pair of earrings from your grandmother’s costume jewelry, or one baby blanket instead of all of the nursery bedding.
Getting Rid of Clutter is a Process
Remember- it’s going to be a process. Clutter didn’t accumulate overnight, so it won’t likely disappear overnight, either. Also, once you declutter and organize, keep in mind that your home isn’t going to look like a magazine photo all of the time. Let me repeat that. Your home isn’t going to look like a magazine photo all of the time.
Stop Expecting Perfection
Set Realistic Expecations.
Unexpected company used to set me off if my house wasn’t perfect. It drove me nuts. But I’ll never forget what a wise friend told me when I was fretting that he was going to see my home a bit messy. He laughed and simply said:
Hey, it’s fine. I live in my home, too.
That was nearly 20 years ago and it’s stuck with me. Whenever I worry about my home being less than perfect, I remind myself that our family lives here. It’s not a model home and it’s not going to constantly look like one! It helps me settle down and have realistic expectations for my home.
It Helps to Have a Checklist
“This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.”
To help me manage my overwhelm with the process, I use this room decluttering checklist. You can download this FREE PDF here.
But if you want a printed and bound version, I also have it for sale over on Amazon for purchase!
I’ll be working on decluttering over the next few weeks. How about you? If you have tips of your own, feel free to drop a comment and share!