How to declutter anything (including a barn)

How to declutter anything (including a barn) 1

When it comes to decluttering, there is no space too big or too small to tackle. I see you rolling your eyes at that statement but it can be true as long as we manage the area correctly. 

I was recently asked help declutter a barn…

Very large spaces may seem overwhelming but we just need to consider them in a particular way in order to make the task seem doable. The same is true for any space including garages, basements and yes, even barns. 

Consider how we think about our goals. Think about the goal to write a book. We know that this is not something that can be achieved in one sitting. It will take many separate sittings in order to tackle the various parts of the project. Each small section needs to be completed and then the manuscript can be considered as a whole. 

My daughter is learning to drive. She is required to complete 50 hours of supervised driving before she is able to sit her practical driving assessment. It would not be realistic for her to think that she could do all of this practice in one week. Sure, in the school holidays, it would be physically possible to spend just over 7 hours per day driving and get the whole thing done as quickly as possible, but she would not be a very good driver by the end of that. 

Any large job needs to be considered in its smaller parts in order for it to be successfully completed. Consider painting the house. If we tried to do everything at the same time: cleaning the surfaces, patching chips and cracks, undercoating, applying the top coat etc. we would not be successful. Each task would cause a problem with the next. The patching needs to be dry before the undercoat can be applied. The undercoat needs to be dry before the paint can go on. Each step needs to be completed in the correct order so that the next step can occur correctly. 

It’s no different with decluttering a large space. Each task must be broken down into smaller, logical parts, which, completed in the correct order, support the next step in the process.

When decluttering a large space, clean the visible, then move on to the hidden.

  • Begin with the floor
  • Move on to other surfaces
  • End with the contents of cupboards and cabinets 

Consistency is the key to a decluttered home.

When it comes to decluttering, it is never a set and forget process. We can’t go on a decluttering binge one weekend and never think about the space again. We must continually take the time to ensure that nothing new has come in to clutter up the area and be strict with the important rule ‘Don’t put it down… Put it away!’  

Even when we think that our work is done, something can come as a surprise that we didn’t expect which causes us to rethink how we do something. 

Declutter and organise…

Recently, one of my members shared the problem she was having in her laundry room. She had wrestled her laundry room into submission and everything was going smoothly. Then 2020 happened. All of a sudden, there was the need to store items that had never been needed before. 

She now needed to find a space to store hand sanitiser and face masks and this required a bit of rethinking. Her beautifully arranged laundry was now no longer set up appropriately for the items she needed to store in there. One of the shelves in the laundry needed to be rearranged to fit these new items in. 

When we are working on our clutter, the way we arrange and organise the space is just as important as the physical reduction of items in that space. Sometimes a clever reordering can make it appear as if we have much more room than we did previously, even when we don’t actually remove anything from the space. 

Group like items together. This helps to discover how much of a particular item we have and to determine if we actually need all of those things. It also makes it much easier to put our hands in those items when we need them. 

I have a box in the hall cupboard dedicated exclusively to party supplies. It holds everything we might need for birthdays including candles, bunting, plastic cutlery, cups, paper plates, balloons, balloon pump, streamers, you get the idea. This means that there is a clear go-to place whenever anyone wants these items and everyone knows what they will find there.

This is also true for this member’s laundry. She and her family do not have to look in a number of different rooms for her Covid supplies, they are all contained in the one easy to get to location. 

Have bag, will travel…

Recently a member realised that she was double handling her belongings and this can be a time waster we don’t need. She regularly spends a couple of nights away from home for work. This requires her to pack a travel bathroom bag to take with her. 

Prior to each overnight trip she was packing up her bag and then after each trip she needed to unpack it in order to use those items at home. We took some time to consider whether this was the best use of her time and decided that it was not.

Our solution was that she obtain smaller versions of the items she needed to keep exclusively in her overnight bag. These could be refilled from the large ones at home when required. This meant that when she needed to leave, it was an easy job to simply grab that bag and go.  Such a time and sanity saver. 

So, to recap…

  • Break bigger projects down into smaller, manageable parts
  • Take some time to organise your belongings for ease of use
  • Work out what can be done in advance to save time and effort later

Need assistance to create your clutter-free life? Try this quick declutter checklist to get you started. 

Quick Declutter Checklist

How to declutter anything (including a barn) 3

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