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HOW TO DECLUTTER FAST – 15 QUICK WAYS THAT REALLY WORK!

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON October 22, 2021

& FILED IN Home Decluttering


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Want to declutter your messy house, but finding that the decluttering process is time-consuming? Maybe you’ve got a deadline to hit and need things to be done ASAOP. Here’s 14 ideas of how to declutter fast – whatever your reason, and even if time isn’t on your side.

How to declutter fast - 15 quick ways that really work!

There are lots of reasons why you may want to declutter your house quickly:

  • Guests are coming round unexpectedly
  • You just want it to not take too much time (who doesn’t want this, right?!)
  • You are selling your home and have an unexpected viewing later that day
  • You’ve got a few hours spare and want it to make a real difference rather than find at the end of the day you haven’t really achieved much at all

All are great reasons – and it never hurts to make tasks as quick as possible, right?

You can probably see from reading the above reasons, that they split up into two areas.

Firstly, when you need to declutter because of a tight deadline, and secondly when you need to declutter as fast as possible because you don’t want to waste time.

So – I’ve looked at both separately below. This is because there are specific things that will help more for one or the other, so I hope it helps you to split them up like this too, so you can dive into the way you specifically need right now.

So here are some of the best ways to make decluttering quicker and less painful – which will you choose to help you get speedier results?

Ways to declutter fast – when you have a short deadline…

A deadline is a very real tangible reason to want to declutter more quickly – of course.

And the shorter the deadline, the more you need to be savvy with how you spend your time and what decluttering you can get done.

Think of this like you have just had a friend call and they will be over in 30 minutes.

Don’t panic – you can get a lot done in that time….

Let’s see how to declutter REALLY fast…

#1 – Set a timer

It makes sense that you set a timer if you’ve got a really specific deadline to hit in the near future.

Ideally you want to set the timer to give you a little wiggle room, and time to get yourself ready as well (you don’t want to answer the front door to guests looking like you’ve been hit by a hurricane, right?!)

Whether you set a timer on your oven, your mobile phone, or you have a specific timer to use – get it ready – and get racing!

Hand holding a stopwatch

#2 – Do the quick wins

if you’ve got a tight deadline, you HAVE to get the best results possible – and here’s where the quick wins of decluttering come into play.

Your aim here is to take as much obvious rubbish away as possible – so grab a black bin bag or 2 and go around the house tackling all the clutter you can see.

Put in one any real rubbish, and put in the other one any recycling you find.

Obvious rubbish could include broken items, out of date items etc… – and recycling usually included all paper/card related items such as magazines, mail, packaging, and receipts.

#3 – Box up the items that you want to keep but that are in the wrong place

These are the everyday clutter items that we all have around the house, that are things that we want and need in our home, but are just out of place because they’ve recently been used and not put back.

With the tight deadline you’ve got, you won’t want to spend it putting things away – so for now just put them all in a box or basket, and put that in a room or space that won’t been seen for the short term.

TIP – With house viewings, a great place to put these types of things is the car boot. I’ve even heard of people putting their dishes from the sink in there just while the viewing took place!

For now, this will have a huge effect on the level of surface clutter you’ve got lying around. It will help create the illusion of a clutter free home – and so you’ve done what you needed to right her and now.

BUT – and this is a big BUT…

You haven’t really tackled all the clutter doing this, you’ve just moved it around a bit.

As such, some time needs to be taken to put the items from the box/basket back in their rightful place at the end of the day.

You could enlist the family to sort out their specific items from the container to make it quicker as well though…

#4 – Focus on the rooms that they’ll see

When you’re short of time you need to prioritise more – so think about the rooms and spaces that the people you are decluttering and tidying up for will actually see, rather than other rooms or even that hidden away storage space that they won’t go near.

After all, there’s no point in spending valuable minutes sorting out an entire room like a kids bedroom if your guests will only make it through the hallway and into the kitchen or living room.

Much better to focus on places that they are likely to see – like the kitchen counter, the coffee table in the living room, or the sink area in the downstairs toilet – rather than spaces like the junk drawer or inside storage containers…

Ways to declutter fast – when you have longer but want to do it quickly

These methods and tips are perfect for when you want to do a larger decluttering project (maybe even the whole house), but still want to not waste time and get the best results in the fastest time possible.

Really, they are ways that I’d recommend following as much as possible – because who wants to waste time or spend extra hours on tasks that could be done sooner? Not me, that’s for sure – and I’ll assume you’re the same…

So – let’s look at ways to make decluttering faster – whatever time limit you may or may not have in place…

#1 – Have a plan

If you want to make decluttering faster, you need to plan ahead.

Yes, planning takes a little time, but it’s one of those occasions where the time you spend up front here will reap rewards in saved time later down the line.

When you’re leading a busy life, you may only be able to find 5 or 10 minutes here and there – and so you have to be able to make each second count.

Having a plan means you can write down an order for decluttering, probably by room and then area within that room.

You’ll know where you finished last time, and where you can head and carry on now.

Plus, having a decluttering checklist makes it feel like you’re progressing because you can see how far you’ve come.

#2 – Get help

Many hands make light work – as the saying goes!

It therefore makes sense that if you want to make decluttering go faster, you get more people helping you.

This could be in several different ways (or a mix of these):

  • Professional Help APDO in the UK and NAPO in the US are places to find someone from your area.
  • The rest of your household – if you’re decluttering spaces you all use, this makes sense as then everyone is there to make the decisions about their own stuff.
  • Trusted friend or family member – someone who will be able to help that knows you well and will give you good momentum to keep going while you chat.

#3 – Wear the right clothes

This seems a strange one to add in here, but it’s one of those decluttering tips that really can make all the difference to how long decluttering may take you.

If you’re planning on a decluttering day – and want to make the most of all the time you have – you don’t want to be slowed down by what you’re wearing.

Decluttering is very physical work – and you’ll find yourself stretching to reach high/deep areas, bending down to pick things up – and constantly moving around.

Having clothes that make this difficult means that each move will take a tiny amount more than it needs to – and those tiny amounts can really add up over time.

My suggestion is to wear clothes that move easily with you – such as leggings / workout clothes etc…

#4 – Know your end goal

Decluttering is all about making decisions – and decision making can be slow when you haven’t thought about things up front.

For instance – if you know that you want to look a certain way from now on – and you have a look and style in mind – then you can more easily decide what clothes to keep or let go of when you go through them. If you haven’t thought about this, you’ll constantly be second guessing yourself and progress will be much slower.

Same with your home accessories. Know your homes’ style, and then curating the items you have in it will come much more quickly.

Basically – know the decluttering goals that you’re aiming for before you start to actually hands on declutter – because decisions will come quicker as a result.

#5 – Have the right kit to hand

It would take a LOT longer to leave the house every day if you didn’t have your purse / handbag ready to go, wouldn’t it?

Having to look around for what you need in it, and then taking time to return to the house when you inevitably forget something – is a waste of precious time to say the least.

No wonder we tend to keep things in our bag ready to go…

And what about the fact that a lot of us have a cleaning caddy that we can just grab when we do any spring cleaning (or even our regular cleaning)?

It makes life easier, so why would it be any different with decluttering?

As such, it’s a great idea to create a decluttering kit ready to grab when the decluttering bug hits you.

You’ll be saving preparation time that will become part of your decluttering routine at each and every clutter clearing session from now on…

#6 – Do the less sentimental spaces

This comes back to how long decision making takes – and when decluttering you have a LOT of decisions.

It therefore makes sense to tackle the quicker decision first – to get ahead of the game a little and stretch those decluttering muscles so later down the line the harder decisions won’t feel as hard.

And the most difficult decisions are always based around emotions.

Sentimental items can stop us in our tracks because we don’t want to make the wrong choice. Guilt and stress can set in, and before we know it we’ve stopped decluttering totally.

As such, start with areas and rooms that have less sentimental stuff in them, such as:

  • Hallway
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens

And steer clear (for now) from places / items like:

  • Bedrooms
  • Photos
  • Childrens rooms

#7 – Don’t second guess your decisions

Trust your gut as much as possible when you declutter, because second guessing your decision will add loads of time to the process.

When you get used to decluttering, this will become easier and easier – and having a plan for what results you’re going for will help too – but you just need to be firm with deciding what happens to each item.

One great tip I have with this is to get things out of the house as soon as possible after you’ve decided to let them go. This is because you often will feel like just having a quick look through (time taken) to check, and then be tempted to pull a few things back out again (time wasted) – and that will set your decluttering efforts back a lot.

The rule really is to not go back and forth with things – as this will eat up a LOT of extra time and energy that you want to avoid as much as you possibly can.

#8 – Listen to upbeat music

A fun one as well as useful for speeding things up.

We naturally move faster when we’re listening to upbeat music. I think it’s a mix of keeping up with the fast beat, plus feeling more energetic and happy when hearing it.

It also makes wearing those comfy clothes more enticing – then you can dance while you declutter as well (or is that just me!?)

#9 – Don’t let yourself get sidetracked

It’s all too easy to not focus on what you’re doing – especially when you’re bogged down in the minutiae of the little bits and bobs you’re sorting through.

But if you start to get sidetracked, you’ll end up spending WAY too much time on nothing useful, and that will make you feel rubbish at the end of your session.

This is what is known as shaving your yak – I kid you not!

The basic idea of this is that you start doing one thing only to be so distracted that you find you’re doing something else entirely and have forgotten the original task.

For example – you’re decluttering your kitchen. You find something that belongs in your bedroom, so you head there to put it away, only to find that you stripped the bed that morning, and so you start to make the bed. You go to the utility to grab your freshly ironed bedding, and realise that you haven’t put the washing from machine out to dry. You start doing this, and then the phone rings. After an hour of talking to your mum, you hang up and realise it’s dinner time. You head back to the kitchen to start cooking, and are faced with the mess you left earlier today when you started decluttering….

Argh!

All too easy to do, I’m sure you’ll agree.

So – the trick when decluttering is to stay in the same place as much as possible. Have a basket for items that belong elsewhere – and take them to their rightful place at the end of the session rather than during.

Things will go a lot faster that way…

#10 – Don’t sell things

Part of decluttering for you may be to sell some of the items you’re letting go. This can be a fantastic way to make some cash, but it can also be the largest time sap of them all.

It takes time to do everything involved:

  • Research where best to sell each item
  • Research what price to sell it for
  • Put the item up for sale
  • Communicate with potential buyers
  • Be in when they come to pick the item up / or spend time sorting out delivery of the item

And then you’re still not guaranteed to sell it.

So – if you’re trying to make things go faster, prioritise the speed and donate / give away rather than selling it.

#11 – Hire a skip

The last way to be faster when you declutter is to give yourself a deadline – by hiring a skip.

Having a large skip on your drive will focus you to fill it as quickly as possible, and make the most of having it there.

It also saves time because you don’t have to take the rubbish away yourself – so it’s a double win!

How to declutter fast - 15 quick ways that really work!

Next time you want to declutter fast – these tips should help!

I hope they’ve inspired you to think about decluttering in a different way – to maximise the time you have available.

Lack of time really CAN stop decluttering in its tracks (or even before you’ve had a chance to start). That’s a shame..

And remember – usually it boils down to having a plan and sticking to it. Knowing where you are on that plan, and being able to do the next step without having to find or do anything first. Once it becomes a habit in your life, decluttering your home fast will be a breeze!

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