The Oxford Dictionary definition of declutter is “to remove things that you do not use so that you have more space and can easily find things when you need them”, implying the main motivation for decluttering is that we can find things quickly when we need them and make more space. This is partly true, yes, but this definition does not reflect the impact of decluttering on a person’s lifestyle.
I believe that the main function of decluttering is something much more important. It changes the way you live in your home. By removing what you don’t need, you create space for calm and mindful living and make it a place you love to live in. According to Marie Kondo, decluttering only has an impact if it is all done at once – not throwing out one item a day and doing it gradually. And I have to agree with her. When you declutter an entire wardrobe or defined space in one session, you will see and feel its impact. You will feel lighter and feel a sense of relief, which is all you need to change your life from that point onwards.
Watch The Video: 6 Steps to Decluttering Your Home
How Do I Start?
No two people have the same clutter – what is clutter to me is not clutter to you. It is subjective. This is why there are no specific instructions about what to declutter. There are, however, steps to follow in order to guide you through the process of decluttering. After all, decluttering is the first step to starting a new lifestyle. Once you intentionally decide what you need to keep in your home to live your ideal life, you have established the path to clutter-free living.
Organising and storing your items is not going to change your life because you will constantly be tidying items that you do not need. Now you may ask: when does one organise and store their items? That step comes after decluttering. Your space can only be successfully organised if you have decluttered properly. This is why I have developed the following six specific steps to get you started correctly – and successfully!
1. Identify the Cluttered Space
The space you identify could be one of three things: a room, a smaller space, or a category of things. A room is the easiest thing to identify due to its physical boundary of walls. A room can also be the hardest thing to declutter as it can be large with various zones and many different items. Make sure to set aside at least four hours for a good declutter session to get the desired effect. A smaller space can include a closet, a nook, a bathroom cupboard, the bedside table, the kitchen drawers, or the fridge. These are spaces that keep the same sort of items performing one function together. These take less time, but are very rewarding as you can declutter it one session.
Decluttering by category refers to groups of items that could be in more than one place in the house. Examples include children’s toys, toiletries, cleaning products, or kitchen equipment. Often, this is a very efficient way to declutter as you are targeting all the items in that category at home. For example, you may have toys in more than one room, so you need to get all the toys out from all the rooms, declutter them, and then decide where they will go. It might be somewhere new that works better for the family. Cleaning products is another category that can be spread around the house – in the kitchen, bathrooms, or laundry area. When decluttering these areas, think of all the cleaning products in the house and do a stock take of all items to make sure you know exactly what you have in the house before you declutter.
2. Visualise the Space
Think of the details. How do you want the space to look and feel? What colours do you see? Is there a photo on Instagram or Pinterest that inspires you? Do you like neutral colours? Do you want that spa feel in your bathroom? Then think about why you want this feeling – really hone into your ultimate goal for your home and keep this in your mind throughout the process.
3. Start to Declutter
Take all items out of the space and spread them out on the floor or on a table. Pick up each item individually and ask yourself these few questions to determine where it needs to go:
- Do you need it?
- Does it add value to the life you want?
- Does it belong to the vision of this space or should it go elsewhere in the home?
4. Sort Items Into Categories
Sort items into four storage boxes – Keep, Donate, Dispose, Recycle – while you are decluttering. Dedicate a space in the room to put the ‘Keep’ items. The rest of the items will go into the ‘Donate/Dispose/Recycle’ containers. Cardboard boxes or baskets are ideal, but make sure that they are clearly labeled and accessible nearby. You can use a marker on some tape or write directly on the boxes. Having these boxes at hand helps you make a decision quickly. You need to put the item in one of the three boxes if you are not keeping it.
It can also be motivating to have the ‘Donate’ box nearby in order to encourage you to get rid of items as you know someone else will make better use of it than you currently are. In the ‘Donate’ box, you might also identify some items you want to sell. You can address this at a later stage or have a separate box for sale items. It is time to give yourself a pat on the back when you have completed this step – it’s the most challenging part of the decluttering process. You may feel drained and exhausted as a result of all the decision-making, so take a well-deserved break as you only have two more steps to go.
5. Take Immediate Action
As soon as you have gone through all the items in the identified space, move the boxes out immediately. Take the recycling to the recycle depot or bin that day. For donations, do your research about where to take certain items. A professional organiser can help you with this, too. At this stage of the process, it is often easy to feel tired and unmotivated to carry on. Donating items is rewarding and will give you the motivation you need to keep going.
6. Give Yourself Some Love
Decluttering is no easy feat. People avoid it all the time as it is mentally draining and takes time. However, if you get it right and achieve your goal, decluttering can be life-changing. You’ll feel light and have a huge sense of achievement. You’ll also feel proud as throwing out items that once meant something to you is not easy. However, understanding that those items are no longer adding value to your life is even more important. Treat yourself to something you enjoy, put those feet up, and visualise the calm and peaceful space that is to come.
After decluttering, the next steps include allocating storage, organising the items, and beautifying the area. Not only can a professional organiser coach you through the decluttering process, but also provide you with their expert opinions on storage solutions and organisational methods that will calm and simplify your space. Make your home work for you already!