Sometimes there is an urgent need to declutter your home fast.
Perhaps you have relatives arriving to stay unexpectedly and need room to accommodate them. Perhaps you are getting the carpets cleaned and need to have them cleared beforehand. Perhaps you have simply gotten tired of the status quo and want to get this problem sorted out quickly.
Usually I recommend slow and steady progress towards being clutter free. We develop routines and processes, we set goals and implement strategies. These things help prevent us from becoming overwhelmed and stopping before we get the task completed. They also help us to be consistent into the future so we don’t find ourselves back in the same situation in a few short months down the road.
I understand however, that sometimes a slow and steady decluttering routine is not possible and a different process must be put into place.
Let’s learn how to declutter fast and get some quick results.
Understand your Clutter
Before we begin to tackle any clutter in the home, we must take a few moments to understand the clutter we have. Pause for a moment, step back and take a good look around you, a stocktake if you like. Notice the major problem areas. Actually see where the clutter is sitting.
- Is it on the floor?
- Is it on the surfaces?
- Is it mostly in the cupboards?
Once we know where our clutter is accumulating, we can make a plan to declutter it quickly.
Where to start Decluttering
Complete your decluttering work in the following order:
The first step is to make sure there is a clear path across the room and around the furniture. There is no point trying to climb over items lying on the floor to get to items on surfaces. You will only cause yourself an injury and may end up breaking something in the process.
Once you can negotiate the room with a tidy floor, you can tackle the surfaces. We do these next because they are in full view of our guests and contribute a lot to the look of clutter in a room. When clear, they will need a good wipe down or dust.
We leave this until last because it is the least obvious of the three issues we need to deal with. Yes, I know that it’s awful when you open a cupboard to look for something and ten other items tumble out but remember what our main purpose is right now. We are focusing on how to declutter fast. If this means that some of those hidden sins need to stay exactly the way they are for now, then so be it. Only when the more obvious clutter has been removed will we begin to tackle the hidden clutter
What should I Declutter?
To be successful in decluttering your home, you need to begin with the easiest task and work your way up to the more difficult ones.
Step one: Throw away the rubbish.
Now, we are not spending much time here deciding what is junk and what is not. That’s a different thing entirely. We are getting rid of items that are clearly trash. Newspapers, old magazines, boxes, brochures, takeaway food containers, broken pencils, empty jars, tissues, bottle tops, you know the type of thing. They either belong in the recycling or the garbage and can be collected straight away and deposited there. This is step one and the easiest to accomplish.
Step two: Relocate items which are in the wrong location.
Collect up items that are in the wrong location in the home. These are things you want and need to keep but for some reason have migrated out of their logical home into another room or space. Collect them all up and return them to their correct locations.
Step three: Get rid of unnecessary items.
This can be the hardest part of any decluttering project. Getting rid of something that was useful in the past but has outlived its useful life and is no longer required can bring up all sorts of memories and emotions.
What if I can’t decide if I should keep an item or not?
You will likely find that there is more than one item about which you will be unsure. You wonder, is it junk? Is it just in the wrong place? In this process of decluttering quickly, we really do not have time to linger over any one item. So for now, this is where you can have a third box for those undecided items. You can box them up and store them in an unobtrusive corner in a spare room until you have time to go back and look more carefully at the items.
How to Get Rid of Stuff
Clutter is essentially a collection of unmade decisions. We have collected these items because some time in the past we were unable or unwilling to decide what we actually wanted to do with them.
Now is the time to make those decisions. These key points will assist you to do so.
- Be ruthless. There is no time here to think long and hard about each item we own. If the job needs to be done fast then the decisions also need to be made quickly. The more we linger and mull over an item, the less likely we will be to make the decision we know we need to make.
- Understand that very little is actually worth any money. We have a tendency to overvalue the items we already possess. Your belongings have meaning and worth to you but usually not to anyone else. Unless you own some special antiques or designer pieces, your treasured possessions are mostly junk to another person’s eyes. Even if you are able to sell these items, you will only receive a fraction of what you paid for them from the store. Ask yourself whether you would buy it today if you did not already own it and this can help you decide whether or not you really need to keep it.
- Get the item out of the home as quickly as possible. As soon as the decision has been made to declutter an item, it needs to be removed from the home. The last thing we want to do is to allow these items to sit around for any length of time. The longer they do, the more chance they will have of being assimilated back into the clutter pile. Take the next step as quickly as possible. I like to take the clutter straight out to the car and drop it off at the charity store on my very next trip away from home.
- Enlist the help of family or friends. Many hands do, in fact, make light work and when you need to declutter your home fast, you should make use of other people’s help if at all possible. They can move items to their correct rooms or take decluttered goods out to the trash or drop the items off at the charity store. Another person can also be a good sounding board to help you look at your items more objectively.
- Stay in the one zone until the work is done. Don’t waste time flitting from one room to the next, emptying a box here and a shelf there. It can be very tempting to move on before the work is finished and this often happens because we get bored and wander into another room looking for a fresh project to tackle. Unfortunately, this will only make the whole process take a lot longer. It is important to stay in the one space and finish the work there before moving on to the next area.
Never underestimate the effect of small, consistent actions: Declutter as you go.
Often we believe that we have to make a special time to complete our decluttering project or task. This is not actually true. The bulk of the work that reduces or prevents clutter is done incidentally throughout the day as we go about our regular routines. It’s only in our minds that these things take a long time.
The following are very easy habits to fall into that cause unnecessary clutter to accumulate:
- Leave the dishes on the sink too long and end up with an enormous pile to manage in the future.
- Put the mail down on the dinner table without addressing it and end up with a pile of papers you can’t find the energy to tackle.
- Pop things you are not sure what to do with into the spare room and end up with a room full of junk to deal with at a later date.
Declutter Fast with the 2 Minute Rule.
I like to have a rule that if something can be done in 2 mins or less, I do it straight away.
This applies to all sorts of things including making the bed, wiping down the bathroom sink, unstacking the dishwasher or tidying the kitchen table.
What I heave learnt is that when I manage these items at the time and don’t let them accumulate, I am able to stop creating new mess. This is important because it leaves me with the time to do all of those other important tasks around the home instead.
Next time you are walking past something that will only take a couple of moments to set straight, take that time to get it done.
Here are the top 7 things to do that actually take very little time but make a HUGE difference to the amount of clutter that accumulates.
Bed: Make the bed each morning before leaving the room. We tend to overestimate the amount of time this will take but it is the most important task to complete in the bedroom each day and actually takes very little time. A made bed will make the room look instantly tidier and encourages us to keep other parts of the room tidy too.
Bathroom: Tidy the bathroom sink when you brush your teeth: A quick tidy up of the counter top and a wipe down of wet spaces will mean less work down the track. Hang bath towels up straight away: There is nothing worse than wet, soggy towels cluttering up the bathroom floor. Immediately after use, hang up towels and bathmats to enable them to dry and prevent nasty smells.
Dishes: A good strategy is to manage the dishes as soon as the eating is over. It might be as little as stacking them into the dishwasher or as much as doing a full wash in the sink. Leaving dinner dishes until the morning will result in dried up, caked on gunk that takes three times longer to remove.
Personal items: If you find yourself walking into the house and dumping your bag, keys, jacket into the first spot you see, there will always be a pile of clutter in the home. Put them where they belong straight away. You will then always know exactly where they are and will never have to hunt them down again.
Car: Take trash out of the car after each trip: The small effort of removing trash and other items from the car after each trip will ensure that there is never a mess that needs to be cleaned up.
Laundry: As much as we all hate this, don’t bring the laundry in from the line or the dryer and dump it onto the couch to sort out later. Sort it straight into the basket and deliver it to the appropriate rooms immediately. There’s nothing worse than a laundry mountain sitting there day and night. You know that as soon as you have finished with it, there will be another one waiting. Don’t begin this cycle of never-ending clothes mountains.
Mail: This should be sorted immediately it is brought into the house. Trash goes straight into the bin, bills onto the calendar and into the bills folder and other items wherever they need to go. Leaving these things too long will find us with unpaid bills which incur a late payment fee, missed appointments and too much to sort through to discover which is junk and which is important. Do it straight away.
If you implement some of these declutter fast tips, you will have to spend less time tackling bigger clutter problems in your home.