When it come to decluttering, I often find that people become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work required to be done. That is completely understandable. We look at the work as a whole rather than breaking it down in to small, manageable steps. This can create the problem of finding it difficult to get motivated to clean and declutter the space. These decluttering tips will help you to simplify the process so that you have a better chance of success.
When tackling a whole house, or even one room, there are two ways it can be approached. Different people have their personal preference of course and I think you probably already know the one I prefer, but first let’s discuss what they are.
Option 1: The all in, all at once method.
The process here is to tackle a cluttered area as one task. A chunk of time is put aside to go through everything in the space. Actions are taken to decide what is to be kept and what is to be thrown out. Then items that are kept are sorted and stored appropriately.
You might for example decide to declutter the family room. In this example, you would need to set aside at least half a day to go through absolutely everything, make decisions about what to keep and what to throw away and then to return the room to a liveable condition. How long this will take does of course, depend upon how cluttered the room is to begin with.
Option 2: The small steps, bit at a time method.
The process here is to tackle a cluttered area over the course of a few days or even weeks. Each small area is gone through, actions are taken to decide what is to be kept and what is to be thrown out. Then items that are kept are sorted and stored appropriately.
In the family room example, you might begin by tackling the surfaces on one day and getting them sorted. You would come back the next day and tackle another item such as books or magazines. A small amount of time is taken each day to complete a small, easily completed task.
As you can see, the majority of the process is exactly the same. The key difference is in how much is tackled at a time.
I definitely advocate for the second approach. (See my 7 decluttering rules here)
These 5 decluttering tips will help you to declutter a room with option two: The Small steps each day method.
1) An area can be tackled in a small amount of time and so can be fitted into our busy schedules.
When we try and wait for a large chunk of free time before we complete something, we very rarely ever get to do it. This becomes the perfect opportunity for procrastination to occur. It is not necessary to wait until we have all of our ducks in a row before we begin, we just need to get started. Carve out 5 minutes of time today and get that job underway.
2) Only a small mess is created in the process and it is easy to clean up.
Life happens and we need to make plans for that. When we have just turned the house upside down, there is nothing worse than having something urgent happen that needs our attention. You would be surprised how often this occurs. We must then leave the mess we have created and go off and sort out the issue, knowing that we will have to come back and finish the task later. A small mess is much easier to manage regardless of what life throws our way.
3) It is repeatable because the process was not too onerous.
When we invest an enormous amount of time in something, we don’t really want to have to go and repeat the process a couple of days down the track. In decluttering, a large effort all at once can often be counterproductive. After spending tiring hours completing the work, we want to give ourselves a well earned rest. This can mean that we don’t do those daily things necessary to keep the clutter at bay and it can sometimes be weeks or even months before we consider tackling the next area. Doing something little every day will achieve far more in the long run.
4) Tackling something small each day results in big improvements over time.
It’s really quite amazing how small items add up. One less piece of plastic used per day and that’s 365 less pieces of plastic used in a year. One cup of coffee per day at $4.50 equals $1642 spent per year. One bag of clutter removed per day and that’s 30 bags in a month. 30 bags takes up a lot of room and removing them will be clearly visible. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you are only doing something small, you are not making an impact.
5) Developing a routine will prevent more clutter from occurring in other areas.
The biggest lesson to learn in decluttering is to manage the small things each day. It is the unmade bed, the pile of dirty dishes in the sink, the kids toys on the floor that begin the slippery slope to a cluttered home. Clutter begets clutter and the best way to prevent it from building up is to manage the small things as they develop over the course of the day.
Of course, everyone has a different temperament and preference but if you are struggling with clutter in your home, I recommend using these decluttering tips to achieve your desired outcome.
For step-by-step advice and assistance in achieving your clutter-free life, check out the membership community here.