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Decluttering 101: The Ultimate Guide

Decluttering 101

The dictionary defines clutter as ‘An untidy collection of things.’ Ok, so we know that. So where can we see examples of this in our homes and why should we concern ourselves with decluttering our belongings?

The tiny house movement aside, our homes are getting bigger and we are filling them with more stuff. This is leaving us with a number of related problems because of the sheer amount of belongings in our homes.

Perhaps it’s a simple as the second drawer in the kitchen being so chock full of stuff you can never find the potato peeler, or it might be that your bedroom closet is bursting at the seems and you can’t pull together an outfit for the day.

It may even be that your email inbox is so full of random emails that you can’t find the car insurance bill to make the payment.  

Then of course things may have gotten really out of hand and you find yourself surrounded by clutter no matter where you step.

Some people state that they are happy living with their things in disarray and perhaps they are. Or maybe it’s just easier to live within the status quo than it is to contemplate making a change.

I can understand that. Change is difficult, change requires thought and action and we often believe that we don’t have the time or the energy  for either.

When we are faced with change, we go through a number of steps in the process. When it comes to our clutter, we go from Denial (I don’t have a problem), to Resistance (It’s too hard), through to Exploration (I wonder what would happen if…) and finally Commitment (I will work at this until I am finished).

What are the Benefits of Decluttering?

Why does it matter whether or not the things in our lives are untidy? Well, there are some distinct advantages of living in an environment without clutter.

1) Save time.
2) Save stress
3) Build positive relationships
4) Save money
5) Ensure safety
6) Create mental space
7) Make cleaning easier

How Decluttering Saves Time

How much easier would it be to find that elusive document or your favourite pair of earrings if you have a place for everything and everything is in its place? What is the alternative? It’s hunting all over the house for the item, looking in the pile next to the television, in the box under the bed and in the hall cupboard and often failing to come up with the item you require. Not only does this waste a large amount of time, usually at a moment when time is in short supply, it can lead to a huge amount of stress.

Lost and Misplaced Items Cost More Than an Hour Each Week

How Decluttering Saves Stress

When we have a job to do and can’t find an item that we need, our stress levels rise considerably. You know how it feels, you start to get hot, tense and snappy at those around you. This is not a time when you need another family member to come to you for assistance with something and inevitably it’s exactly when someone will need your attention. Your interaction with them is likely to be short, sharp and unpleasant because of the worry you have and the need to just find the darn thing.

We recently needed to take our passports to the bank as evidence of identity in order to sign some documents. It had been a while since we had used them and I have to admit that I didn’t immediately know exactly where they were. I had a couple of ideas about where to start which was good, but knowing exactly where they were would have been better.

Whilst I didn’t panic, a little part of my brain was wondering what on earth I would do if I couldn’t actually find them. We had an appointment that we needed to make and the added stress of being limited by time would have been significant. Happily I found them in the second spot I looked but you can be sure that I have put them in a sensible place now so I won’t have that problem again.

I suppose one of the lessons to learn from something like this is that it’s OK for something to go wrong. It’s when we allow things to go wrong over and over again and we fail to do something about them, that there is a problem.

My closet is full but I have nothing to wear.

Reduce Stress By Giving Fewer Christmas Presents

How to declutter your mind and get a good night’s rest

How Being Clutter-free Builds Positive Relationships

Clutter can affect our ability to enjoy social situations in our own homes.

I know for me that I am reluctant to have friends over when the house is looking terrible. This happens at really busy times when we let the laundry pile up, neglect the growing pile of mail in the corner and allow the children to pull out all of the toys they own without packing any of them away when finished.

It can be embarrassing to have even close friends over when the house looks like that. Happily, once you have completed a good declutter and have systems in place to stop it getting out of control again, a few short minutes of tidying will get the house ready to receive company at any time.

I am not an advocate of the house looking like a display home at all times, I think that is unattainable and only creates stress which of course is something we are trying to avoid. What we are trying to achieve is a home that is easy to live in that only takes a couple of quick minutes to make ‘company ready’.

Do your children have too many toys?

Experiences make the best gifts

How Being Clutter-free Saves Money

Clutter can also be such a money waster. Anyone who does crafts for example, knows how quickly supplies build up and unless there is a system to store them it can be almost impossible to put your hands on just the thing you require at the time you need it.

There was a time when I would have to go out and re-buy something that I knew was in the cupboard somewhere but just would not be found, only to have it turn up as soon as the project was finished. Of course this does not just apply to craft, work tools in the shed, the top that matches perfectly with those pants, any number of things can hide from us in clutter if we allow it to build up. What we want is to know what we already have and be able to put our finger on it easily when we need it.

How to Declutter to Save

How Much Is Your Shopping Costing You?

How Being Clutter-free Keeps the Family Safe

It may seem silly but clutter can also be a safety hazard. Think about Great Nanna trying to navigate past a pile of old newspapers or magazines to make her way to the bathroom or a young child finding some small item on the floor and putting it into their mouths.

When the house is tidy and there are no obstacles or dangerous items lying around, the chance of unexpected accidents occurring is a lot lower. Of course, there will always be times when things are out of place but if most of the house is clutter free, we can see those items that need to be managed when special visitors come over and can quickly take steps to reduce any risks.

How Being Clutter-free Creates Mental Space

Another advantage of a neat and tidy space is that it often frees up our minds and gives us greater capacity to think. A (very difficult to read) study here proves this to be true.

In practice, a friend finds it very difficult to concentrate on anything in her work if the office is crowded with stuff. She spends a short time each day setting things right and finds herself so much more efficient for the rest of the day and able to complete her work without distractions.  

It’s just like trying to concentrate on a book, movie or piece of work when someone else is talking to you at the same time. It’s distracting and you are not able to give either thing your full attention.

The Overwhelming Weight Of Clutter!

Creating a Clutter-Free Sanctuary in Your Home

The Clutter-Free Bedroom

How Being Clutter-free Makes it Easier to Clean

Lastly, it’s so much easier to keep any house clean if you don’t have to tidy it first. A quick wipe down of the kitchen bench can turn into a marathon task if you can’t actually find the bench because it is covered with random objects.

When my children were small, it seemed like a never ending task trying to vacuum and wash the floor. By the time I had picked everything up and vacuumed, I was worn out. I had no energy left to actually wash the floor and by the time I got around to it it was inevitably covered with things again.

This may have simply been a byproduct of having very energetic children in the house and may not have been possible to avoid but at the time ,I certainly didn’t have any system in place to make it easier for myself.

The many benefits of a clutter free home

20 Important Spring Cleaning Tasks

How do we solve a clutter problem once we know we have it?

There are a number of ways to tackle accumulated clutter in the house and which one you choose will probably depend upon your personality type and the level of the problem. Some people suggest an all at once approach where everything is pulled out onto the floor and gone through in one mammoth effort. This approach is not for me.

On some days I am energetic, enthusiastic and have plenty of time. On these days I might be able to pull out the entire pantry, clean the shelves, throw out the junk and rearrange everything as I put it back in. Other days I am time poor and have little energy to do that. At these times I will simply set my timer for 15 minutes, perhaps pop on a bit of music and do a quick clean out of one small spot in the house.

In the Clutter Free Life Membership Community I recommend a method where you do a little bit each day, attacking one area at a time until the whole house has been covered.

Members of the community receive access to all of my decluttering resources, ebooks, courses with expert guidance and targeted support. Find out more here.

Blog Posts that Help Tackle Clutter

The number 1 top tip for a clutter free home.

6 steps to a clutter free home

Emotional attachment to clutter and how to solve it

7 rules to a clutter-free life

7 Pieces Of Decluttering Advice To Live By

The Key Elements of a Decluttered Home


There are a number of distinct areas in the home that must be tackled. These include..

Click each item to read more…

  1. The Kitchen
  2. The Bedroom
  3. The Living Room
  4. Children’s toys
  5. The Closet
  6. The Car
  7. Papers
  8. The Bathroom

Working through each of these areas in turn will slowly but surely turn a cluttered home into a decluttered one that is a pleasure to live in.

I have a lot of stuff! Where do I start?

Organise more or organise less?

Decluttering Resources

7 Day Declutter Challenge

Declutter the Kitchen in 5 Days

30 Day Declutter Challenge

The Clutter-Free Life Membership Community

Free Decluttering Checklists

More Decluttering Resources

Get rid of clutter with help from a friend

The Worst Advice I’ve Ever Heard On Clutter

The One Thing That Stands In The Way Of Decluttering

2 simple things that will help you get a tidy house

The easy way to make small changes in the house and get big results

Messy House? How to Get Motivated to Declutter!

Too Many Boxes: A Good Reason to Reduce the Clutter

Beginning The Decluttering Journey

Do you struggle to keep your house tidy?

But what if I need it someday?

Managing other people’s stuff

Sometimes Decluttering Alone is Not Enough…

When we find ourselves in a situation where we own too much stuff, it can be very difficult to pull ourselves out of it. We simply don’t understand the steps necessary to begin the decluttering process, we feel overwhelmed and are unable to begin.

This is when we need a little more assistance. This assistance is available inside the Clutter-Free Life Membership Community.

Join the Clutter-Free Life Community Here!

Decluttering 101: The Ultimate Guide 3

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