Decluttering Your Home In 3 Easy Steps

admin // November 22 // 0 Comments

“Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination” Christina Scalise

There are any number of ways out there to approach decluttering your home. Blogs and books abound on the subject. You could literally spend years reading up on it and never make a final decision on how you want to go about it. More important than studying the intricacies and minute details of how to declutter is actually just making it as simple as possible and getting started! Otherwise you’re very likely to fall into the trap of endless procrastination. Which, as Christina Scalise so aptly puts it in the above quote, is really at the root of clutter. What you have here is what you could call a “decluttered guide to decluttering.” Keeping it down to three steps will hopefully make the whole thing more approachable for you and allow you to dive right in without needing to think too much (because thinking too much is what keeps you in procrastination mode!).

11.1 Step 1: Choose Your Angle Of Attack

“You’re the boss of clutter, not the other way around.” Monika Kristofferson

Remember that in your hours of discouragement. “You are the boss of your clutter.” Don’t let it get the best of you! It can be a real challenge to find the time and motivation to organize your space amidst the general flow of work, family, relationships and trying to have a little time to be active and maintain a hobby or two. What you need to remind yourself is that one of the primary goals of decluttering is in fact to give yourself the gift of a simplified home life so that you spend less time in the long run on organizing, managing and cleaning up various cluttered messes! The little push of effort required is well-worth the ultimate outcome.

There are two main angles recommended by most master minimalists out there in terms of how to approach getting rid of clutter. One very popular angle is to take things room by room or “space by space.” In this scenario you would break down your home into sections and make yourself a little schedule to deal with each one in sequence. Say Saturday you declutter the bathroom, Wednesday you deal with the bedroom, Friday the living room. That kind of thing (obviously adapted to whatever your life schedule is like as well as that of anyone you might be working on decluttering with, like your kids, spouse or roommates!!).

The other oft-applied approach is to go through your stuff in terms of categories, most commonly attributed to the well-known KonMari method that you may already be familiar with. This means sorting through all your dishes in one shot, then going through all your shoes, then all your photos and so on and so forth.

11.2 Step 2: The Outbox

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.” Joshua Becker

The Outbox is a term used by many, but well-outlined by Maxwell Ryan in his article “How To Declutter Your Home,” on the Apartment Therapy blog. Basically, it is what it sounds like. It could be a literal box, or just a designated area where everything you think you want to get rid of goes, to be dealt with accordingly once you’ve done all your sorting. While some people recommend putting things into different pile as you go, to either be donated, recycled or trashed, Ryan calls this a case of “first-generation” thinking…in short, many people get blocked by dealing with two problems at once: that of whether or not they want to keep something PLUS what to do with it. [1] Things often end up being kept simply because people can’t figure out what to do with the thing and find it too challenging having multiple piles going in their living space, especially if they don’t have time to sort through all their belongings in one blitz (as strongly recommended by Marie Kondo, among others.).

For the sake of simplicity, the outbox is a great solution. Pick a discrete corner or cupboard that can be the recipient of all your soon-to-be discarded clutter for the space of a weekend, a week, or however long you decide is a reasonable period in which to take on decluttering. Ideally you don’t want to let the timeline stretch out too much because as we all know this can also lead to procrastination. If at all possible it can be great to put aside a weekend and do it all in one go, but you obviously need to adapt to your life situation (while still being disciplined enough to get it all done!). After the week, or the day, of sorting is up you move on to the next phase.

11.3 Step 3: The Final Cut

“The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.” Marie Kondō

At this point you simply need to go through your outbox and sort things into piles according to whether they’re to be donated, resold, recycled or, if no other option remains, trashed. In order to avoid letting any of this drag on, do all your sorting in one shot. Then immediately transfer any boxes of goods to be donated or recycled into your vehicle so that you next time you go out you remember, and practically have no choice but to drop them off. You can create a personal gift pile as well if you have specific objects you want someone in your friend or family circle to have, but again, figure out how and when you’re going to give these things away and try and do so asap. Don’t wait another six months ‘til christmas or their birthday comes around! As professional organizer Peter Walsh puts it, “later is the best friend of clutter.”

If you don’t have a car and need one to transport all the stuff you’re letting go of, try and coordinate with a friend who has one (or who has an awesome bike trailer, or enough energy and muscle to help you carry things on foot or by public transportation, or whatever solution makes sense for your context!) and get them to come by as close to the time you’ll be finishing up your sorting as possible! Some charity organizations will do pickups if you have a large amount of stuff. Basically make it as simple (and even, perhaps, fun!) for yourself as possible so that you’re less likely to put it off.

11.4 Fine Tuning Your Fast-Track Decluttering Strategy

There are a couple little things that could potentially create a lag time in the simplified decluttering method. For example, if you’ve decided to go the resell route with anything, try and put it up on whatever platform you want to sell it through (etsy, ebay, craigslist, your local community billboard, or simply by letting your social networks know you have said item for sale…) as soon as possible. Ideally this means as soon as you know you want to try selling it instead of giving it away you take photos and put it out there. Otherwise little piles of things will continue accumulating.

This is why you also want to really limit the number of things you decide are worth selling instead of just getting them out the door as a donation. Be discerning in your choices and remember that your main goal is getting rid of clutter, not making money from stuff you don’t want anymore. Anything that’s going to seriously impede the speed and efficiency of your decluttering should be cut out of the plan.

11.5 What If My Kids (Partner, Roommates…) Aren’t Into Minimalism?

You may have kids or a partner who doesn’t quite agree with this whole decluttering idea. This can indeed get in the way of anyone’s best intentioned decluttering blitz. If this is your situation, you’ll need to take the time to negotiate with your family (or roommates…because unfortunately you can’t really just get rid of someone else’s stuff without their permission without having some major fallout to deal with!). If you’re dealing with family issues, author Zoë Kim of “Minimalism for Families,” has several blogs on the topic on her website Raising Simple.

Among other things, she highlights the importance of a) respecting your families requests to not get rid of certain things b) showing willingness to compromise c) asking permission to put unused things away (in storage or otherwise out of the way somewhere!). She also emphasizes that “at the end of a day always remember, people are more important than possessions, and that includes the way we treat them.” [2] In other words, no matter how much you want to get rid of stuff now, don’t let your hyper-focus on downsizing your possessions get in the way of maintaining positive relationships with your loved ones!

11.6 Action Point Summary – Here’s What You Need to Do Now!

“Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions” Barbara Hemphill

This is literally one of the simplest ways to go about decluttering your home. There’s none of the high attention to detail that can get some of us bogged down in contemplating the best way to approach getting rid of things. At this point you literally just need to get started.

  1. Separate your decluttering project into sections, either working by space (what counts as a “space” can be as small or as large as you want based on what you feel up to tackling!) or by types of items.
  2. Create your outbox and fill it up! Designate a specific space where you put everything you don’t need or absolutely love anymore. These things stay in the outbox until you’ve finished going through everything so you don’t have to decide what to do with the things you’re getting rid of yet!
  3. Decide what goes where. Go through the outbox all at once and make piles for donation, recycling and trash. Put boxes directly into your car or organize to have them picked up by a friend or charity organization the same day if possible.
  4. If reselling anything, put it up for sale immediately on your prefered platform.
  5. Of course, declutter in a way that’s respectful of the people you live with. You may be gung-ho about eliminating 60% of your worldly belongings, but if your kids, partner or roommates aren’t into it, you may need to rethink, or at least limit your actions to what actually belongs solely to you.
  1. “How To Declutter Your Home,” Maxwell Ryan, apartmenttherapy.com, 2011
  2. Minimalist: When Your Family is Not!”, Zoë Kim, raisingsimple.com

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