Have you ever wondered why it feels like you are always cleaning?
No matter how much time and energy you put into making your house look nice, it is dirty again before you even turn around.
If that sounds familiar, then you *probably* have a clutter problem.
Clutter can creep slowly into our homes and into our lives. Usually, we don’t even know it is happening… until we are in way over our heads and have no idea how or why the mountains of stuff got into our house.
So what can you do about it?
Well, you have three choices:
One common choice is to ignore the clutter. Keep cleaning all around it and spending your days, weeks, and years, putting everything back in its place. For extra points, you can also welcome more clutter into your house with open arms by purchasing new things often and having mounds of presents at each birthday party, Christmas, and any holiday in between.
The second option is to complain about the clutter. Let everyone within earshot know that you are tired of it and want there to be a change. You can get extra credit by planning to declutter and telling everyone you are going to do it, but never actually getting rid of more than a garbage bag full of things here and there.
The last option is to kick the clutter to the curb! This is the path less traveled because, well, it takes some hard work. But let me tell you, it is worth every minute.
Every day new research is showing how clutter affects not only our time and money, but also our mental and emotional well-being… especially for women.
Want to have a clean house all the time without spending every spare moment cleaning? Declutter it.
Your house will instantly feel much cleaner and lighter, I promise.
It can be hard to declutter when you are overwhelmed by the mess. But that is just when you need to do it most.
In this post I’ll tell you:
How to know if you need to Declutter.
How I Got Started with Decluttering.
10 Steps to Start Decluttering TODAY!
And if you prefer to watch instead of read, here is the video that goes with this post:
So how do you know for sure if you need to declutter your house?
6 Signs That You Need to Declutter
1. It takes hours to clean… And It’s dirty again before you even turn around.
2. Thinking about cleaning your house stresses you out.
3. Your feel stressed instead of relaxed in your own home.
4. It seems like you are cleaning all the time… but no one would know that if they came for a visit.
5. Everywhere you look you see things. Toys, trinkets, collectibles, or anything else that has congregated in your house.
6. The thought of having a clean house all the time sounds magical to you, but it doesn’t seem possible for at least another 10 years.
If you were nodding along as you read that list, you can grab my Cluttered to Calm Workbook or Spreadsheet and let’s get started!
My Journey with Decluttering
I don’t have a shocking hoarder-to-minimalist story like most other minimalist bloggers out there seem to have. I have always been drawn to simplicity.
Even as a child, when we would move, I would try to fit all of my belongings into one large U-Haul sized box. And if it didn’t fit, I usually got rid of it.
I guess you could say I’ve been a decluttering minimalist since I was 10.
Somehow I was keenly aware that the amount of things in the rest of the house was stressing me out, but I couldn’t do anything about it!
I resolved that when I grew up, I would only have the things in my house that I needed.
But once I had a house of my own, I was amazed at how easy it was to purchase this or that “because it was such a good deal” or “it would look so good in the __________ room.”
After having children it became even easier to justify purchases.
I soon found myself getting increasingly stressed and spending more time putting things away than ever before.
I decided enough was enough.
I needed to go back to what I had intuitively done as a child.
I needed to set limits on the amount and type of things that I would allow to take up residence in my house.
So let’s get into the 10 simple steps that you can take to get your sanity back!
10 Steps to Get Started Decluttering
1) Decide Why You Want to Declutter
Your ‘Why’ can be anything. But it needs to be something.
Decluttering just for the sake of decluttering will only lead to more decluttering down the road.
In order to truly get a handle on the clutter, you also must curb your purchasing habits. And if you don’t know why you want to have a clutter-free home, you will simply continue the same maddening cycle of purchasing and decluttering.
You may just want to declutter for the simple reason of having an easy to clean house. Or you may also want to declutter because of something more philosophical: like a desire to reduce your carbon footprint.
I have two reasons that I want simplicity in my home:
First, the amount of time I spend cleaning my decluttered home is greatly reduced. This gives me more time for the important things in life. Like spending quality time enjoying my family, instead of just cleaning up after them.
The second reason that I choose to live minimally, is that I want my children to have a simple childhood.
I want them to appreciate and take care of what they have.
I want them to have toys that bring them joy and encourage imagination. (See my Intentional Gift Idea Post for clutter-free toy recommendations.)
And I want them to have memories of playing at the park, going on hikes, building blanket forts, and laughing until their sides hurt.
I don’t want them wasting their childhood fighting over an endless pile of toys or worrying about which toys belong to which child.
Whatever your reason for decluttering, take a couple of minutes and write it down. If you grab my Streamline Your Home Quick-Start Guide, there is a page where you can do this, or you can grab the nearest notebook and jot it down.
That way, when you are up to your elbows in the process and you are wishing that you had just let it be, you can easily reference the reason you are decluttering and remind yourself why you want to stick with it!
Trust me, it’s worth it!
2) Pick a Method
When looking at how you want to declutter your home, you should choose what will work best for your personality.
There is no wrong method to use, as long as you pick something that you can stick with until your task is completed.
I personally combined three of the methods when I decluttered and it worked well for my personality.
Don’t spend too much time deciding which method to use, just go with your gut!
Here is a quick rundown of the different ways to declutter your house:
Option 1: Slow and Steady
If you don’t have a lot of time to commit to decluttering, this method is for you.
If you choose this method, you are going to carve out a small amount of time every day (or every week if you are really short on time.)
Look at your daily schedule and decide when you will have your 15-minute decluttering session.
Every day, set a timer for 15-30 minutes and tackle whatever you can in that time. Keep going back to the same area session after session until you feel like your space is clear and comfortable. Then move on to your next area, or room, or category.
This is a great way to declutter without losing steam.
Just be sure that you have the dedication to stick with it for a while since this method will take you the longest.
Treat you decluttering time like it is an important appointment that you can’t miss.
(If this method sounds like it would work well for you, check out Simply Streamlined! We use this method in the program to completely streamline your home in just 15 minutes a day!)
Option 2: Speed Decluttering
This method is for all of the overachievers out there. You know who you are. While most of your friends spend their weekends relaxing, you are checking things off your list.
If you want to do a speed declutter, set aside a week or a weekend to tackle this project.
I recommend setting a timer for each section of the house so you don’t get stuck in one area too long… but you probably already knew that didn’t you?
Pro Tip: If you want to minimize distractions, see if the kids can stay at Grandma’s house for a few days!
You will most likely need a few of these sessions to completely declutter your home, but this is a great way to get started and make a lot of progress right away.
If you want to Completely Declutter your home in 8 Weeks or Less, check out my program Cluttered to Calm!
Option 3: Room by Room
I love this method for decluttering because, well, I love making lists. And checking things off my lists makes me happy.
This method is great for list-makers because it breaks your house down into tiny little manageable chunks. (And each chunk is an item on your checklist for you to check off!)
For my fellow list makers out there, here’s how you do this method:
Grab a notebook or your phone and write down every room and closet and area in your house that needs to be decluttered. (Or you can grab my Cluttered to Calm Checklist or Spreadsheet if you don’t want to slow down long enough to make your own comprehensive checklist!)
For example, I would write down:
Under Ross’s Sink
Under Kassy’s Sink
I like to be specific so that I feel like I accomplished something even if I didn’t get my entire room done. (Maybe that’s cheating, but it worked for me!)
Option 4: Category by Category
It’s time to meet the celebrity of decluttering, Marie Kondo.
In her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo describes in great detail her now-famous category by category tidying method.
I found decluttering category by category especially useful for my clothing. When I fold my clothes and organize my dresser the way that Marie Kondo recommends, it is much tidier and I know exactly which clothes are clean in my drawer.
I found it difficult to grasp the folding technique from her books, but I found these YouTube videos helpful.
If you want a step-by-step manual for how to declutter your house using this method, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is an excellent resource.
Marie Kondo recommends starting with decluttering Clothing, then minimizing Books, then simplifying Papers, then downsizing what she calls “Komono” or “everything else”, before decluttering any sentimental items.
According to her book, the category of Komono includes kitchen supplies, bathroom products, toys, and anything else that does not correspond to one of the other categories.
When I tried my hand at the KonMari method, I needed additional categories that made sense for me. I added in a category for my kitchen, my bathrooms, my garage, and my children’s toys.
Pro Tip: If you choose this method, I suggest adding as many categories as makes sense for your home.
3) Give Yourself a Deadline
Most people are naturally procrastinators. Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fit in the time we give it.”
Essentially that means if you give yourself a year to declutter your house, it will probably take a year.
To avoid having the decluttering process take an eternity, give yourself a deadline and be punctual with it.
Since you might be anywhere on the spectrum from “I just want to get the toys organized” to “I’m so sick of clutter that everything in my entire house needs to go!”, and you may have a lot of time or no time at all to declutter in, I can’t give you an exact amount of time that this should take for you.
To make this decision, look at the amount of things you will need to go through, the size of your house, and how much time you can dedicate to the process on a weekly basis.
If you are ready to dive in and get the Decluttering done once and for all, check out Cluttered to Calm if you want it done in 8 weeks or less, and Simply Streamlined if you can only dedicate 15 minutes a day!)
4) Write Down Your Plan
You can also just grab that notebook you used above and answer the following questions:
1. What is your overall goal with decluttering?
2. What order do you want to tackle your clutter in?
3. What method would you like to use to declutter?
4. How will you sell items that are still in good shape?
5. Where will you donate items that you can’t sell?
6. How will you know when your decluttering process is complete?
5) Choose a Start Date
Set aside a day, an afternoon, or 15 minutes.
Don’t worry if you have to keep coming back to an area (or a drawer!) for a few days.
Choose a date and time that isn’t too far in the future. Starting while your motivation is strong will help keep the process going until you have completed your goal.
Pretend that the decluttering time on your calendar is an important business meeting that you can’t reschedule or book over.
Then stick with it!
6) Get a Babysitter
If you have young kids and are pretty sure that they will slow you down, see if a friend or grandparent would watch your kids for your first decluttering session (especially if you are tackling a large area!)
The more that you declutter, the more you will get used to getting rid of things and the more you will be able to downsize with distractions.
But at first, it’s nice to be able to focus!
7) Get Three Containers
On your start date, get three receptacles.
One is for things you want to keep. One is for things that you don’t want to keep, but are in good enough condition for you to sell or donate. And the last one is for trash.
After each decluttering session, throw the trash away, put the donate container into your vehicle, and list any items you are going to sell.
8) Find a Home for Everything that Stays
After each decluttering session (and before you start the next one) find a permanent home for each item that you decided to keep.
Just because something has always been stored in a certain location doesn’t mean that it is the best place to keep it.
Marie Kondo advocates for storing things in the place that you use them most, and I love this idea.
9) Remember That it Takes Time
No matter your intentions and/or the method you use, decluttering takes time. Even if you decide to do speed decluttering, it will take a lot of work.
Sometimes in the middle of the process, it might feel like things are getting worse before they get better.
Stick with it. I know it is hard, but you can do hard things!
I promise that you will thank yourself when you have finished.
10) Just Start!
The only mistake you can make when you begin to declutter is putting it off.
Throw out the idea of perfection and go for it!
Even doing one 15-minute decluttering sweep through your house will make you feel lighter and happier.
Don’t keep putting it off, start today!
You Might Also Like…
The Best Intentional Gift Ideas for Children will help you find minimalist gifts and intentional toys for your children that won’t add clutter to your life!
I’ll walk you through making your own simple weekly cleaning routine in the post 5 Steps to Creating a Weekly Cleaning Schedule. Or you can check out My Simple Weekly Cleaning Schedule: The Routine That Took Me From Overwhelmed to In Control if you want to see mine!
Also, I simplify the most time-consuming tasks for moms in How to Solve the Laundry Problem and The Busy Mom’s Guide for Cleaning Your Kitchen the Easy Way!
Ready to Stop Feeling Stressed About Clutter?
Then check out Cluttered to Calm!
In Cluttered to Calm, you will learn how to
- Completely Declutter Every Room of Your Home
- Get Your Family on Board with Decluttering (and maybe even Excited about it!)
- Set Boundaries so that you will NEVER have to Declutter Again
- And Do It All In 8 Weeks or Less!
Cluttered to Calm walks you through my unique method for Decluttering Your Home once and for all!
Plus you will receive the Cluttered to Calm Decluttering Workbook and Spreadsheet and email support from me anytime you have questions.
I hope to see you inside the course!
(Or if you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of gal, you can check out my DIY Decluttering Resources!)