Welcome! – if you’re looking for easy to follow, step by step advice on how to declutter your home, then you’re in the right place!
I can’t wait to help you get to grips once and for all with the clutter in your home – so let’s get going, shall we…
We all have clutter – it’s simply things that are in the wrong place in your home – whether that means you need to move them around, or take them away completely.
But it can be hard to deal with.
You may have tried before – do any of these sound familiar?
- Clutter just moves around the house and doesn’t really get tackled properly
- You don’t know where to start and get overwhelmed
- You declutter regularly but still end up with too much “stuff”
Well, after reading this post those feelings will be a thing of the past…
You are going to learn every step of my tried and tested decluttering process – in a way that will give you the confidence to easily tackle any part of your home in the future – whether it be a cupboard or the whole house.
I’m so excited to share my tried and trusted 9 step method with you, and I’m really looking forward to hearing how you get on!
Ready to get sorted? Let’s do this!
Firstly – I wanted to give a shout out to my trusted acronyms (!). I LOVE an easy way to remember a method, as you’ll know by my A.D.O.R.E method for sorting any space, and my L.A.S.T method for organising.
Decluttering, my friend, is no different!
The decluttering acronym is – DECLUTTER (Oh how I love it when something works well!). Should be pretty simple to remember this one, hey!?
As a brief rundown of this acronym, here you go (and then I will talk about each in much more detail): –
D – Decide on what you’ll declutter
E – Evaluate what should be in the space – everything else is clutter
C – Clear a working area
L – Layout your kit
U – Understand how you will tackle the area (zone/categories etc…)
T – The Declutter…
T – Too much in the KEEP pile? Check it again
E – Everything away where it belongs
R – Relax and reward yourself for a job well done!
So, now you know the acronym, let’s get started on the nitty gritty…..
STEP ONE – DECIDE ON WHAT YOU’LL DECLUTTER
It’s important to identify where you are going to tackle when you set out to declutter – as the scope can change as you go, and overwhelm can easily set in.
If you have a very cluttered space, then consider starting small with a drawer or a cupboard first so you can see progress and gather momentum.
If the room isn’t too bad, then do the whole room.
Work how you prefer, and with what you feel comfortable with given the time you have available.
I have chosen my utility, as there was lots of stuff in it waiting to be put away after a weekend of chores (we tend to put things out of the way in the utility until we have time to sort it all out – so it can easily become a dumping ground).
Here’s the picture of what it looked like before:-
STEP TWO – EVALUATE THE SPACE
To declutter properly – you need to know what actually constitutes clutter in that space in the first place.
It’s worth taking a few minutes to assess the space you are decluttering. Are you using it in the right way for your needs? Do you need to also have other things there once you are organised? Is it purely a decluttering exercise without the need to reorganise as well?
For example – my utility is pretty organised – the cupboards work well, its just that its got cluttered recently. As such this is purely a decluttering job – and I know exactly what items belong in the space and what don’t.
If I were to be decluttering a home that needed organising as well, I would have firstly assessed the house and ensured I knew roughly what I wanted in which room – so that I could start to move things around as I went through the house.
For now though – lets stick to decluttering!
STEP THREE – CLEAR YOUR WORKING SPACE
When you declutter – you make mess.
It has to get worse before it can get better – so make it easier on yourself by making a good working space before you start.
Areas that you could use:-
- An adjacent room
- A trestle table in the middle of the room
- A sheet on the floor
- A table or bed or any large space that’s clear in the room already
You are basically looking for somewhere that’s easily accessible to you, that you don’t have to bend down too much (if you have lots of decluttering to do then I strongly recommend using a trestle table rather than the floor as it keeps everything at a height that’s more comfortable – its also useful if there’s no available floor space as yet, as you only need space for 4 legs!).
For me, the dining area in my kitchen is right next to the utility, and the dining table and the space around it was clear – so that made sense:-
So, you’ve planned what you want to tackle, and cleared the space – and are now ready to get going.
Next it’s time to get everything you need ready, and then get going.
I can’t wait to get started and clear that clutter once and for all at this point…
Let’s do this, shall we…
STEP FOUR – LAYOUT YOUR KIT
You don’t need much for decluttering alone (the gadgets, baskets, craft bits etc… can come when you are organising the space and know what you have to organise).
Basically – there are 3 things you will need:-
- Category Labels and Marker Pen
- Containers / Bags
- Step Ladder or Chair (to get to the hard to reach places!)
You can easily make some decluttering category cards – here are mine:
They are easy to carry around – and I have a blank one for any categories I forget (and they are so pretty, they make decluttering much less of a chore!)
You don’t of course have to go to this much effort (I like them as they are clear and I can see whats what at a glance), and you can get the same effect with coloured paper or post it notes and a marker pen.
Whatever way you choose to write the categories down, think of what you need for the space you are decluttering.
Categories you may want to pick from include:-
KEEP / KEEP – FREQUENT USE / KEEP – INFREQUENT USE / KEEP – OUT OF SEASON / MEND / RECYCLE / SHRED / FILE / RUBBISH / CHARITY / GIVE AWAY / FOR ANOTHER ROOM / SELL etc…..
For this project I chose the 8 categories below:-
I then gave each category a space in my working area, added the label to this space so I could see at a glance what was what, and then added in any bins bags or baskets that I thought may be useful.
The trick is to make life as easy for yourself as possible both during and after decluttering.
TIP – Use a black bin bag for rubbish so that you can put in the bin straight away and don’t have to look at everything again – as this is where you may start to change your mind about things!……
TIP – Use a basket with handles for the category FOR ANOTHER ROOM as then you can easily carry it around the house when you are finished, and put things back where they should go.
STEP FIVE – UNDERSTAND THE AREA YOU ARE WORKING IN (A PLAN OF ATTACK!)
Whatever you are decluttering, if you start at random, you may end up confused and overwhelmed, which we want to avoid at all costs!
What I suggest is to mark out the space you are decluttering into manageable pieces. I usually create a 3 * 3 grid of the space (whether its a drawer or an entire room), and I do each of the 9 segments one at a time, working from top to bottom of each segment, and from the far corner of the space to the door – working out of the room basically.
So in my utility, the door is in section 9 – so I will work in this order – 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 5, 8, 6, 9 and work my way out of the room. This works really well as then you are not walking back over decluttered space, and possibly cluttering it up again as you go.
TIP – If you find yourself easily distracted, you could even physically mark out these areas with masking tape – this works well as you can see the progress you are making.
STEP SIX – THE DECLUTTER…
Go through the space in the order you have selected – and place each item into one of the category areas you have created, and work your way around the space from item to item until you have looked at everything.
Note – I don’t tend to have a MAYBE pile when I am decluttering, as for me this is too easy for things to end up in – and I have to then make more decisions and feel less happy at the end. I try and make a decision there and then, and stick to it. This is totally personal though, and if you are someone who needs the feel of a safety net like this, then you may want to have a box for maybes – one idea to minimise the effect of this is to seal it after decluttering has finished. If you don’t miss anything after 6 months then simply throw the box away without opening it, if you do miss it, then get it out!
TIP – Don’t move out of the space until you have finished – you have a category for “DIFFERENT ROOM” so don’t be tempted to wander off when you find something that goes elsewhere. Distractions means things will take longer and you are more likely to not finish.
When you have an item in your hand – ask yourself the initial question – do you want to keep it?
To help you decide about whether to keep it – ask yourself these type of questions: –
- Is it yours to decide about? – only ever declutter your own stuff
- Do you need it?
- Does it serve a specific function that can’t be done by anything else?
- When did you last need it?
- Did you know you owned it?
- Do you like it?
- Are you keeping it because of guilt or obligation?
- Would you buy it now if you saw it?
- Does it add value to your life?
- Do you have space to keep it?
- Do you want to maintain it / clean it / store it etc…?
- Does it fit your vision for your home/life ?
- What’s the worst scenario if you let it go? Can you live with that?
- Could you borrow one if needed in the future?
Then ask the right sub questions to decide where it should go after that:-
- Is it in the right room? If not, put in “DIFFERENT ROOM” category
- Do you need it now? If not, put in “OUT OF SEASON” category
- Does it need anything doing to it before it can go back in the space? put in “MEND” category
- If none of the above, then simply add to the “KEEP” pile – Try and place LIKE WITH LIKE in your keep pile i.e. all trousers together, all pens together etc…. – this will help you in the next step.
GET RID OF IT
- Is it in good condition? “GIVE AWAY”, “SELL”, “CHARITY” categories are all options
- Can it be recycled? “RECYCLE” category
- If none of these, then “RUBBISH” category
You may have other questions, dependent on what you are decluttering. For example, when decluttering paperwork you need to shred papers that are confidential before putting in the bin.
If in doubt – go through each category and find the best fit for what you have.
TIP – Make it fun! – Turn on some music, watch a TV programme while sorting paperwork etc…. – it needn’t be a dull task!
TIP – Time it! – Why not race against the clock so you keep motivated and it takes you less time. I like to set the oven timer to go off after half an hour – its amazing how much you can get done, and you usually find you are happy to continue for another go!
By now you should have your working space fully stocked with the items from the space you are decluttering – I expect that the “KEEP” pile will be the biggest in most cases:-
STEP SEVEN – TOO MUCH TO KEEP? CHECK AGAIN…
This is a step often completely overlooked, but can reap even more rewards if you add it into the process.
Take a minute right now to go through your KEEP pile and check that what you have is what you really want to keep.
I mentioned in the last step that you should try and place all LIKE items together in your KEEP pile – i.e. all trousers together, all pens together etc….
This gives you the opportunity to do one last check on that which you want to keep – as you may well want to keep all your jeans (for example) when decluttering your wardrobe because wear them most days, but when you see that you actually have 32 pairs you may well be willing to declutter a few now!
If you spend a few minutes making sure what you are keeping is really what you want to keep, you won’t be wasting space by keeping too much of any one thing.
STEP EIGHT – EVERYTHING AWAY
This should now be quite easy to do, as you have got everything in the right category piles ready to action.
Start with putting back everything you want to keep in the space (it’s worth cleaning the area before you put it all back as well, as this will take seconds when its empty).
It’s also worth saying here that if you were looking to organise each space after you have decluttered, then you may want to put things back roughly where you think they will go – that way you can see at a glance whether things need containers, dividers etc…. – but for now, as we are only decluttering – put things back wherever makes the most sense to you right now.
Next, get rid of anything that’s leaving the house. If you can’t actually get to the tip, or the charity shop etc.. on that same day, then label the containers and either put into the boot of your car ready, or into the garage. If you are decluttering several areas, or over several days, then you may want to wait to make these trips as then you can do it all in one go when you have finished.
Lastly – take everything that belongs in a different room and put it back where it should go.
STEP NINE – RELAX AND REWARD FOR A JOB WELL DONE!
You should now be able to see your space in a whole different light – without things that don’t belong in there – and you may now want to organise the space to take it that step further – but for now, lets leave it at that – organising’s for another day!
Enjoy the space, feel lighter now you have less clutter – and put your feet up – you deserve it!
(and if you want a treat, here’s a list of options I put together a while ago for inspiration…)
If you follow these 9 simple steps then you’ll know exactly how to declutter next time you start a project in your own home, and it should go pretty smoothly!
You will make the space work really well, and keep only that which really matters to you and your home – and what could be better than that!
Here’s a recap of the steps for you:-
- Step 1 – Decide on what you’ll declutter
- Step 2 – Evaluate the space (what is clutter in that space)
- Step 3 – Clear your working space
- Step 4 – Layout your kit
- Step 5 – Understand how you will tackle the area – plan of attack
- Step 6 – The Declutter
- Step 7 – Too much in the KEEP pile? Check again
- Step 8 – Everything away
- Step 9 – Relax and reward yourself for a job well done!
Ready to get started on your own home? I really hope this helps!