This is my ultimate, all-in-one guide on how to declutter your home. I draw on several of my other blogs posts here (all linked in the text), and also on the process that I teach in my Declutter course. Take it step-by-step and declutter your way out of chaos to create a home that is easy to run and simple to clean!
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Step 1 – why declutter your home?
Have a good ‘why’ behind your motivation to declutter. Decluttering is not always easy, it can be emotional, and it can take a long time to reverse the situation you have found yourself in. If you can summarise a ‘why’ that means a lot to you, then you can remind yourself of that Why when decluttering your home becomes hard and you feel like you don’t want to carry on.
Educating yourself on the damage that excess consumption does to the environment and on the effects of clutter on our health and wellbeing can provide a huge mindset shift that can help stop you recluttering after decluttering. I recommend two excellent books for this:
STEp 2 – clutter or hoarding?
Evaluate how big the job is. Can you really do it yourself? Is your hoarding more than just mess and more of an emotional issue? If things at home are really severe, you might need some outside help to get started.
Step 3 – declutter the easy things
Get rid of the easy things first. This means round up all the rubbish, broken things, recycling and all the items lying around that you’ve “been meaning to” do something about. These are easy wins and will help you feel a sense of accomplishment early in the game.
STEP 4 – declutter small areas at a time
Start small. Choose one single area (don’t make it an emotional pile of stuff or it’ll take you forever to do this step). You’re going to declutter this single area to completion.
step 5 – The first round (declutter with a process)
Decluttering is easier if you follow a process:
- Decide on the purpose of the area
- Remove everything
- Put back what fits the purpose (if you can declutter anything at this point, great!)
- Find a home for everything else (if you can declutter anything at this point, great!)
STEP 6 – Keep like with like
When you decide on a purpose for a space, it becomes easier to keep like things together. Keeping like with like has many advantages and results in a more organised home (even when you haven’t cleared out as much as you would like). I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying for more detail on this and as an inspirational text. I love her quirky style, and her recommendation of keeping things that spark joy is a really positive way of evaluating what is important to you.
STEP 7 – WORK AROUND THE ROOM
Use the same process all around the room. And then all around the house. If you devote five minutes a day to this, even the busiest person can make headway over time. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you have completed what I call a “first round” of decluttering in your home. When you reach the end of the first round, your home will be far more organised than it was to begin with, even if you still need to let go of a lot of possessions.
STEP 8 – THE SECOND ROUND
Once you’ve looked at every area of your home, as described above, it’s time to move to the next level. You’re now more experienced with the decluttering process and this is where deep, transformational decluttering of your home takes place. Start again as at step 4, but this time take the time to really ask yourself the following questions:
- What sort of person do I want to be?
- What sort of person am I?
- Does this help me move from where I am to where I want to be?
Complete, brutal honesty at this point will help you to decide if you are hanging onto things for the following reasons:
- It shows others what my personality is like (Clarification: it’s not owning books that makes you erudite, it’s reading books. You don’t need to own a single book to be a well-read or well-educated person. But if you own books because you want to prove to others that you are well-read, then you are displaying your personality through your belongings. You cannot represent your entire personality through your stuff and more importantly – you don’t need to.
- I spent too much on it to get rid of it
- Someone gave it to me and I have to keep it
- I have this because it makes me feel more important/attractive/intelligent/fashionable (Clarification: it’s not owning things that makes you any of these. You can be intelligent and own nothing, and you can be attractive in a bin liner. You don’t need an excess of things to prove your worth).
Self acceptance and self-knowledge are key to letting go of what you do not need.
If you get really stuck decluttering, I use a couple of methods to help get going again – these are especially useful with sentimental items.
step 9 – BEWARE OF THE VOID
Decluttering can provoke uncomfortable feelings of vulnerability and insecurity. I call this the void and I talk about how I experienced it on my journey here. Beware of these feelings because they can lead you right back to the shops to buy more.
STEP 10 – DISPOSAL IS IMPORTANT
Having a plan to get things out of your house is as important as sorting them out in the first place. Utilise charity shops, textile recycling, book banks, and any other form of re-use and recycling that you can. Try not to increase the burden on the earth by throwing things away. Sometimes it is unavoidable and we create rubbish, but if we can find alternate homes for what we do not need, we save someone else from buying new and depleting resources further than they can be replaced on our planet.
STEP 11 – cultivate a decluttering habit
Decluttering is not a one-time goal. Once you have been through your house (and possibly before you have even gotten around the house one time), you will find more things coming in that you don’t need. Decluttering is a life skill that is well worth acquiring. It’s a habit that gets easier with practice.
Once you’ve finished the biggest declutter – the one that gets your home into shape, perhaps take a look at sustainability and reducing waste, in order to lower your impact on the earth.
Decluttering your entire home is not an easy or a small job. It takes time, patience, resilience and a degree of emotional honestly. None of this is easy in our busy modern lives. However, if you can make decluttering a priority it can make life easier and so much more enjoyable. Not to mention that it gives you the space, time and freedom to focus on goals that you may have always thought were out of your reach.
You can do it!