When should you start decluttering your home? Where do you even start and how? More so why? In this post, the 3rd post in this series, we are going to focus on decluttering your home. Where to start decluttering and how to clear clutter. You will be able to declutter your house in 30 days or less.
By simply decluttering your home, office, and vehicle your life will change in more ways than just making everything cleaner.
When you embark on a decluttering journey, you will discover so many beautiful things about yourself and you begin to see things differently.
You’ll reduce your stress, start feeling healthier, and you’ll become much more productive.
No matter what type of person you are, studies show that clutter literally makes people sick, both mentally and physically.
By decluttering, you’ll gain numerous benefits that will affect all aspects of your life.
- Reduce Stress – When you have clutter around you, it is hard not to feel stressed out.
However, some studies show the dirt, dander, and germs may be causing additional anxiety. Clutter gives these things a place to grow and hide. If you clean it up, you get rid of it.
- Create a Safe Environment – There is more to physical health and safety than germs. When you have too much clutter around, you may find yourself tripping or falling over things in your way.
Having a home for all of your items and clear areas to do the things you need to do each day is the best way to avoid preventable accidents.
- Reduce Vermin & Pests – Dust mites, cockroaches, mice, rats, and other creatures love having plenty of hiding spaces.
Having a lot of clutter provides that to them. Not only that, all the dust and dander on the stuff around your house that’s harder to clean when it’s cluttered is what’s attracting them.
- Get Healthier – When you aren’t breathing in all that dander and dust, you’re going to start feeling better.
If you think you have allergies or asthma you may be shocked at how much better, you feel when you clean up your environment and cut down the clutter.
- Gain Energy – When you’re not congested, and your body isn’t responding by trying to kill the virus infecting you (when it’s just dander and dust) you’re going to feel much more energetic.
You’ll sleep better, eat better, be more hydrated, and just be better overall because you’ll be more organized and less dirty.
- Become More Productive – When you’re not wasting time looking for stuff you end up getting things done much easier and faster.
If you don’t have to spend an hour cleaning up before you do things, it makes life so much better.
- Manage Your Money Better – Clutter causes a lot of problems with money.
You probably forget to balance your bank account, you likely also forget about paying bills when you have clutter.
The main reason is simply disorganization and lack of time awareness, which is common for people who have issues dealing with clutter.
- Be on Time – Clutter also causes you to be late a lot.
You’re tripping around your house trying to find things and working in very disorganized circumstances. You’re not likely to be on time as often as you wish.
However, if you get the clutter under control, you can once again be on time and respectful to others.
Tip: The hardest part about decluttering is making the decision to do it.
Once you start on the path if you’ve worked on your mindset and understand that this is a lifelong process. This is not going to happen overnight.
You can declutter and improve almost every aspect of your life given the time. Let’s first talk about changing your mindset, and then move on to more practical advice about getting it done.
Change Your Mindset
If you really want to declutter your home and environment, the first thing you need to do is change your mindset.
Sometimes clutter is born from lack of organization skills, and sometimes it goes deeper.
Many people, who have serious clutter problems, which verge on hoarding, tend to have issues letting go of the past.
It really doesn’t matter about why as much as you may think. It seems at least statically, dealing with the clutter lets you deal with everything else positively and has excellent benefits all on it’s own.
- Visualize Your Space – Whichever room you want to think about, go in there and stand in the middle.
Make a slow 360 degree turn and look at your room. Note everything that’s in the way and disorganized, but then start – in your mind – removing things from the room until you can visualize what it should look like when it’s working well.
- Stop Buying New Items – Right now, stop buying anything new.
While you may have to buy things to replace broken items, and that’s okay, always give it a lot of thought about whether you need it or not or can make do with something else.
For now, you want only to buy things you really must have until you get the clutter under control.
- Prepare Mentally – Accept that this is going to be difficult.
You may be attached to your clutter, your lateness, and your lack of funds. That might be hard to understand, but it’s called “imposter syndrome” and can also be a sign of fear of failure or even fear of success.
Accept now that this is going to be hard but commit to doing it.
- Get Needed Tools & Materials – Here is permission to buy things.
However, a word of caution. Don’t buy any organizing tools or materials until you know exactly what you will use it for.
Wait until you’re ready to put the stuff you’re keeping away, and at that time, buy what you need for storage and keeping it together.
- Remember Sunk Costs – As you are going through your stuff and ridding your life of clutter, you may have some thoughts of wasting your money.
In business, there is a term: Sunk Cost. It essentially means that you’ve already spent the money, it’s gone. That money that you have already spent cannot be used as a factor in a future financial decision.
So, if you haven’t used those woodworking tools for three years, are you really wasting money selling your stuff for 20 cents on the dollar? Nope.
- Start Big – Normally when you’re making a change people say to start small.
In this case, start with the thing that bothers you the most. If that’s your bedroom, go for it. If it’s your office, go for it.
Choose the room that is the biggest problem. This is going to give you more bang for your buck and boost your motivation to continue.
Tip: The awesome factor about changing your mindset is that when you learn how to think of things differently, you have a better chance of being successful.
You won’t need as much willpower and self-control when you truly understand why you are doing what you’re doing and the benefits of doing it. The best way to get started is to craft a decluttering plan.
Craft a Decluttering Plan
The first thing you want to do if you’re going to declutter is to craft a decluttering plan.
You need to set goals, schedule everything, and get yourself set on what you’re going to tackle first. In addition, you need to learn how to let go as you move forward with the plan.
- Set Goals – The first thing you need to do to craft your declutter plan is to set goals for decluttering.
Set timeline goals, set up goals for each room. You may not be able to do everything you want right away, because you may not have the budget.
For example, you may have determined the storage tools you need, but you cannot afford to buy them today. Therefore, these goals are short and long term.
- Determine Ground Rules – As you’re working on your decluttering plan, you need to set rules such as don’t move on to another room or area until the first one is finished.
Don’t bring in things that have no purpose. Don’t over-schedule yourself. If your schedule only allows 30 minutes, a day devoted to decluttering that’s how it is, set your goals and rules accordingly.
- Create a Schedule – Get out your calendar and write in exactly what you’ll do during the day and time that you’ve set forth.
The schedule is the most important thing because it’s what’s going to keep you at this long-term so that you can genuinely get control of your clutter and improve your life.
- One Room / Space at a Time – When you create your schedule don’t pick more than you can really do.
Choose just one room or one space to work on at a time. Maybe all you have time to do on your day off is to clean the kitchen drawers. That’s okay.
Being realistic about your plan is vital to experiencing success with it.
- Set Up a Junk Space (for now only) – Since this is going to take a while, you want to choose a place right now to put at least three to four boxes that are labeled: Trash, keep, donate. Some people like a fourth box, sell.
It’s up to you to organize that the way you want it. You need a place to keep these boxes while you’re going through the decluttering process.
- Let Go Mentally – This has been discussed before, but it’s only because it’s so important.
When you tackle a room, you have to let go, mentally, of the value. Allow yourself to forget about the money you’ve spent and now think of the money you’re going to save as you don’t buy more crap you don’t need to clutter up your home again.
- Get the Right Organizational Tools – Once you identify the organizational tools you need to buy what you can or make what you can, that fits in with your budget.
It’s okay if you cannot do it all right away if you’re working toward getting what you need by saving, selling things, and so forth.
- Get the Right Storage Tools – The other thing you will have to spend money on or get creative on is finding the right storage for your stuff.
If something is important to you, then it’s important enough to store it in a way that makes it more usable and taken care of.
- Develop Clutter-Free Habits – Even before decluttering even one room start developing clutter-free habits such as touching the mail once while you stand over the garbage.
Inventory and organize what you have. Toss things the moment you don’t need them and stop buying things without a plan for its use.
Tip: The one thing you’re going to learn with decluttering is how the small actions really make a big difference.
You’ll realize that you have more control over your environment. It may just be de-cluttering your physical environment, but it’s also freeing you up mentally for success in every aspect of your life.
Deal with The Clutter
Now that you have a plan in place and a schedule, you’ll want to deal with the clutter.
First, let’s discuss the various ways to deal with the clutter and then some common clutter spots to consider too.
- Trash, Keep, Donate, or Sell – Set up three to four boxes that you’ve labeled with “keep,” “trash,” “Donate” or “Sell.”
Before you start, you should have a good idea where you’re going to donate things. If you can’t think of any place or person that you know to take the item and you cannot sell it, you must throw it away.
It can be shocking that no one wants your plate or Fabergé egg collection, but for the most part, they don’t.
- Recycle – When it comes to throwing things away, make sure you know what you can recycle and what you need to only trash.
Most of your plastic can be recycled, as can glass, paper, and possibly even magazines.
Call your local garbage collection center and ask them about this because they may also supply individual containers to collect recyclables during your decluttering process.
- Donate/ Freecycle – One way to get rid of some of your more useful stuff is to donate it.
You can choose a charity, but you can also join Freeclyle.org in your area and list the items that you’re giving away, and people will come to get them.
- Sell on The Net – One way to get rid of stuff you no longer use is to sell it on the net.
It may take some trial and error to find the areas where your items sell best. You’ll also want to find out whether one group works better than another, such as Craigslist.org or Facebook Marketplace.
- Garage Sale – If you have a garage or a yard, having a sale is a great way to get rid of your usable stuff.
However, you must be willing to sell your stuff for about 10 to 20 cents on the dollar. That means if you paid 100 bucks you probably could not sell it for more than 20 dollars at your garage sale.
However, remember, getting rid of the things you don’t use is worth much more than money.
- Trash – Ensure that trash is really trash and that you’re throwing things away the right way.
For example, old batteries and computer parts need to be disposed off properly. You probably have donation centers in your area just for getting rid of things like this.
Tip: You need a special plan for dealing with the clutter as you start cleaning out things.
You want a good system in place so that you will know what you’ll do with things. Let’s go over the common clutter spots you may encounter and how you can deal with them.
Common Clutter Spots to Consider and How to Deal with Them
To assist you with your plans and to help you meet your decluttering goals you might be interested to learn about the various most common spots that collect clutter that most people have in their homes.
- Garage, Basement, & Attic – These first three are the very most common areas that people collect clutter before it starts spreading to the rest of their home.
Most people do try to put the clutter out of the way at first. Often, tackling these areas first can give you more perspective about what you need in the rest of the house.
- Drawers, Cabinets & Closets – These are the next culprits in the clutter collection hotspots.
Again, most of us like to stuff the clutter out of the way. That makes these hiding spots ideal for the existence of clutter making these areas sources of frustration.
Tackling these first is also a good idea because it offers you spaces to properly store things.
- Kitchen – When a kitchen becomes cluttered it is often due to the fact is has a lot of drawers, cabinets, and closets.
In addition, most of us tend to buy more kitchen gadgets than we’ll ever use or have space to use.
Clearing your kitchen of extraneous things that make it harder to be productive in there is a sure-fire way to improve your day from the moment you get up to make your first cup of coffee.
- Dining Room – If you have a dining room or a dining area the table is a never used for anything but junk it’s time to reevaluate that room.
Do you want to eat at the table? Would you rather turn that room into something else?
Just because one family likes something doesn’t mean you have to. Even so, having clutter everywhere is unhealthy.
- Living Room – You may not think you have that much clutter in your living room, but some areas are a problem for some people.
Usually, if they have an entertainment center or side tables and are prone to clutter, they have tons of stuff all over the place on a routine basis.
You can set this up to provide storage for things you always have in there to make it work better.
In addition, why not put a small trash can near every lamp and table to collect tissues and other garbage easily right where it happens.
- Bedroom – Many people use their bedrooms way too much.
As an adult, your bedroom should only be used for three things — sleep, sex, and recovering from illness.
Find ways to make your bedroom a sanctuary of relaxation and wellness by organizing everything. In addition, reduce the number of activities you do in there to make it a special place.
- Office – If you have a home office, it may become known for collecting clutter from around the house.
It may even become an impromptu or “emergency” storage room before you know it. Unless you put a screeching halt to this practice, you may end up working in the living room on your couch with your laptop instead of in your office.
Your office should be designed and maintained for optimum success. You can accomplish that with the right storage and knowing how to separate areas by their use.
- Laundry Room – The laundry room, depending on how big it is, often ends up as a depository for lost socks and things no one ever wears.
The key in the laundry room is organization. Ensure you have a space for each of the functions you need to do with laundry.
- Bathroom – Due to cabinets and closets, the bathroom is also a potential catch-all for stuff being hidden away behind closed doors.
Going through those items and making sure only bathroom related things are in the bathroom will go far in helping you get this room as functional as possible.
- Vehicle – Many people seem to practically live out of their cars these days.
If you have trouble finding the floor in your car, you may want to tackle that first so that you can use your car to get rid of the rest of the stuff you’re going to donate and give away.
Make habits once you do to take everything out of the car every time you leave it or make a rule you must put it in the trunk. Have a trash bag there and a box or bag for taking things in the house too.
These common spots for clutter may not seem to be a big deal. However, the problem is once an area is filled with clutter, the overflow starts spreading to neighboring areas and even onto the floor.
This can make moving around freely more difficult and dangerous due to the likelihood of tripping or coming into contact with more germs.
Tip: When you start thinking about the uses for each room and area in your home, it should be easy to identify the things that should be in that room, as well as how to set it up for optimum usage.
Keep the Clutter Away
Once you clear out the clutter, it’s not over. Now you need to work hard to keep the clutter away.
It’s easy to let go and start building up clutter again. If you do find that you are doing that you may need to reassess your storage and organization as it may not be working out for you the way you set it up.
It’s a learning process that you can tweak and improve.
- Create Rules – It might seem odd to need to set up rules for yourself when you’re a grown up but think about how far you’ve come and how you don’t want to go back.
Creating rules that you turn into habits will get more done than will power. Rules such as “one in two out,” clean up right away, and “everything has a home,” will go far in ensuring your success.
- Use the Box Method – Keep your three or four labeled boxes around.
Create a permanent space for them. You might even want to keep some stack-able boxes that look like decorations or a chair around to help collect things to put back in each room every evening.
- Handle Mail Once – Set up a mail station either in your office or near a garbage can with a shredder.
Look at the mail and handle once. Toss the trash and open bills. Organize the area for easy payment and processing in your filing system.
Do it right away, and don’t let the mail pile up. If you have a big enough mailbox, and it’s not in your door, you can check your mail less often too so that you don’t have to deal with it as much.
- Set Up Stations – For everything you usually do each day you should have a place to do it.
For example, if you drink coffee daily, your kitchen needs a coffee station. That way all the things you need are right there, and you don’t have to take them out or work hard to put them away.
Anything you do regularly needs a station like that.
- Create a Sanctuary – Your home and especially your bedroom is supposed to be a safe place for you.
Creating a sanctuary out of your bedroom, a “spa” out of your bathroom, and a cozy, comfy reading and movie area out of your living room is a great way to view your home so that you use each space as well as possible.
- Develop Clean Habits – You’ve seen the word habit mentioned and for a good reason.
Relying on will power doesn’t work. Instead, put things in a schedule and develop habits. Develop the habit of cleaning up the kitchen after you eat.
Make it a habit to take your bottle of coke out of your car, make it a habit to toss tissues in the trash you put right by the area you often blow your nose.
As you see these types of habits help ensure it stays uncluttered.
- Schedule All Cleaning – This may seem very unromantic, but the best way to get more things done in life is to put it in your calendar.
Also, ensure you really do give yourself enough time for each thing you put in your calendar. Schedule daily things, monthly things, quarterly things, and yearly things.
For example, you need to change your air conditioner filter at the minimum of every 90 days. Schedule it. It’ll get done then.
- Don’t Give Up – One of the most important things to remember in this entire thing is that it’s a process.
It may take a few missteps before you get it right. Once you do, you’ll be so much more productive, happy, and healthy than you are now living in clutter.
Tip: The key to your success is keeping the clutter away.
However, the other key is to understand that this is a process and once you embark on the journey it may go up and down and around a lot of curves, but it will make your life much better overall.
Decluttering your home, office, and vehicle makes your life much more organized and productive.
In addition, studies show you’re also more likely to be healthier since clutter can contribute to in the production of mold, which can negatively affect physical and mental health.
When you realize how important is to keep your environment neat, clean, and uncluttered, it’s a no-brainer that you must make fighting the clutter a top priority for your health and your productivity.
Post 1 of A Life Decluttered series – How Clutter Affects Our Lives
Post 2 of A Life Decluttered series – How to Stop Accumulating Clutter