Decluttering 101: Where to Begin (And How to Stick With It)

room with boxes and lamp and plants

What is it about going through and cleaning out stuff that feels so cripplingly overwhelming?  Decluttering can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to follow a strict guideline or schedule. Rather, it should be a cathartic, satisfying process that leaves you (and your home!) feeling refreshed and ready to take on whatever comes next. 

For an organized home that feels less encumbered by clutter, follow these tips:

Set a timer. 

The reality is, decluttering is time consuming work. It can be entirely overwhelming to see all that has built up in your home and get discouraged before you even begin. Carving out a set amount of time (and then sticking to it!) is key to not getting overwhelmed. 

Try starting out with shorter amounts of time — say, 10-30 minutes — and then as you build momentum and confidence in your decluttering abilities, you can amp it up to hours-long stretches. Plus, the timer will help keep you on target — otherwise, you’ll look up from nostalgically flipping through old photo albums and realize that hours have gone by! 

Don’t do it all at once.

This tip is pretty self explanatory. Tackle your trash one drawer at a time! With no real deadline in sight, there’s no reason to pressure yourself to rush through. After all, all that junk didn’t pile up in one weekend, and so you shouldn’t expect yourself to be rid of it in one weekend. 

Maybe you take on one kitchen cabinet per day for a week, working in 10 minute spurts. Or, instead of a “room by room” approach, you could establish a number system. For example, every week you will donate or throw away 10 items, repeating the process indefinitely. Your system has to work for you. Don’t forget to celebrate your baby steps along the way!

clothes organized in baskets

Just give up on “just in case.”

During a declutter session, your things inevitably begin to fall into the “just in case” category. Of course, you should keep items that you genuinely believe you will use in the next year. The issue is when you start clinging to things just because you have trouble letting it go. 

Thinking “one day I may need…” is a dangerous gray area of indecision and procrastination, and if you don’t believe that, just take a peek at the back of your closet or junk drawer! These items are often just the result of not being ready to move on from something, or fear that you’ll have to be without it one day. Do yourself a favor and sell or donate the item to clear space for new memories (and your sanity!). Things are replaceable — people, memories, and your mental health are not!

Remember your “why.”

Sure, getting rid of piles of stuff you don’t want or use anymore feels good, but identifying your “why” will help keep new stuff from piling up all over again. Consider the benefits of more minimalist living, and remind yourself how good you feel when the clutter isn’t taking over. Your reason may be different than someone else’s — perhaps you are making room for a new family member, or maybe you’ve started a new venture and need space to work from home. Whatever the cause, let your “why” lead your cleaning-out efforts.

woman folding clothes on bed

Getting rid of things that no longer serve a purpose clears the way for things that DO spark joy. Once your space is clean and open, you may even be inspired to do a little redecorating to suit your “less is more” lifestyle. If you’re looking for sleek, minimalist frames for your walls, we can help.

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