10 WAYS TO MAKE DECLUTTERING EASIER
Decluttering feels like it should be easy. Surely you just throw away the clutter and the stuff you don’t use? For many of us, becoming clutter-free at home isn’t quite as easy or straightforward! Check out this post for 10 ways to make decluttering easier.
WHY CAN DECLUTTERING BE HARD?
If decluttering your home involves just getting rid of anything that you don’t use, don’t like or don’t need, then really it should be quite easy. Just ask yourself simple questions to help you decide what to declutter and get started! Easy? Well, not always!
Despite some wonderful benefits, simplifying life isn’t easy. Sometimes we find it difficult to declutter.
Here are some of the reasons we give:
- Not enough time
- Don’t know where to start
- Always got the kids with us
- Too much stuff
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Don’t know what to do with the unwanted stuff
Do any of these sound familiar? If so, don’t worry! You’re definitely not alone. These are very common barriers to successful decluttering.
In this post I’m suggesting 10 ways to make decluttering easier. We’ll look at the biggest stumbling blocks and problems that many of us experience when it comes to decluttering our homes and how to overcome them.
With a little bit of planning and a shift in your thinking, you can make decluttering your home easier, quicker and less stressful! Let’s discuss how…
10 WAYS TO MAKE DECLUTTERING EASIER
Here are some tips to make decluttering easier. They’re not just practical suggestions for clearing your clutter but they also address some of the emotional barriers that get in our way. After all, we make decisions based on our emotions so to make decluttering easier, it helps to look at how we think about decluttering so it feels less daunting too.
1. Start decluttering in an easy place
Choose a place to start decluttering that won’t take ages and isn’t filled with difficult-to-declutter items like old photos and sentimental items that many of us struggle to let go of.
A good starting place could be the bathroom. It’s a relatively small space with a finite amount of storage. You tend to know what you use and what you don’t. It’s not filled with sentimental items for you to spend ages deliberating over. And, there usually aren’t that many items to slow you down and make you feel frustrated and lose motivation.
Getting started is often the most difficult part so you’re looking for a quick win to encourage you to keep going. Once you’ve practiced your decluttering skills with a relatively easy decluttering project, you might feel more confident in tackling more difficult areas such as the garage or attic!
Important tip: It’s easier to declutter items where you can make head rather than heart decisions. Getting rid of shampoo that makes your hair dull is easier than a box full of old photos. You’re not relying on your emotions to guide you, it’s more of a practical decision.
Decluttering is easier when you can make easy decisions for quick decluttering progress.
Action point: Try this post on how to declutter your bathroom and get a free Bathroom Declutter Checklist to help you get started.
2. Tackle the bit that will make the biggest difference to you
Think about which room, area or type of item you spend most of your time tidying, clearing up and generally looking after.
If you want the best and quickest results that will make the biggest difference to you, then tackle these first. Again it’s about both seeing and feeling effective results which will motivate you to carry on. For example,
- If you’ve got little kids, it’s usually decluttering the toys.
- If you spend a lot of time cooking, it might be decluttering the kitchen.
- If you work from home, it could be the home office or your desk.
- If your home is busy and chaotic, a clutter-free and calm bedroom might be your priority.
When we want to make changes in life, we usually need an incentive. Decluttering is no different. When your home feels out of hand and you’re stressed out because of it, make a mental note of what’s really making you feel like this? Which part of your home, which room, which chore, which type of item?
Important tip: It may well be that ALL your home needs a declutter but, being realistic, you probably won’t have time or energy to declutter it all right now. If you think about decluttering as all or nothing, you’re likely to set yourself up to fail. Stop the all or nothing thinking and break it down so you tackle the bit that’s affecting you the most.
Action point: So, which bit is stressing you out THE MOST? When you feel stressed out this week with too much clutter, make a note of what and where it is.
3. Try an area that will make you feel good
To use my own personal example, I started by decluttering my clothes.
I was getting frustrated looking like something the cat had dragged in. I had a wardrobe full of clothes but didn’t wear about 80% of them and I could never find anything to wear each morning. So, I’d always end up reaching for the jeans and sweater at the top of the pile.
When I decluttered my wardrobe, I got rid of about half my clothes (mostly donated to charity). I kept only the pieces that I loved to wear, felt good in and that fitted me.
Getting dressed in the morning was so much easier, quicker and more fun! I felt better, thought I looked better and was more positive for the day ahead. Decluttering my wardrobe came with such great benefits that it spurred me on to declutter other areas of my home and life to feel other benefits too!
Action point: Take a look at this article on how to decide which clothes to declutter. There’s a free Wardrobe Declutter Checklist that you might like to get and work through too.
4. Declutter in waves
If the thought of decluttering everything in a room in one go is too daunting, try decluttering in waves.
Do a quick sweep of each room or area to declutter the obvious stuff. Then go back again and again in successive waves and each time you’ll notice something new to declutter in the room that you hadn’t noticed before.
Decluttering is a bit like peeling the layers of an onion. Each time you declutter (or peel away a layer), you’ll expose the next layer of clutter.
When I say obvious stuff, this could be furniture that you never use but which takes up space. It could be stuff that’s in the room, but which doesn’t belong in that room, for example, dirty mugs and laundry (or, in my case, my husband’s DIY tools sitting in my hallway currently!). Waste rubbish and recycling is another quick decluttering win too.
Next time round, you might try decluttering the table tops. Flat surfaces are notorious clutter hotspots and magnets for attracting clutter. Keep this clear and your line of sight will be clearer and your home will feel less cluttered too!
Action point: Take a look at this article on 100 things to get rid of right now if you fancy a quick decluttering session but prefer a framework to guide you. There’s a free printable checklist you can get too to keep you focused and on track.
5. Know your why
Starting something and keeping it up is easier and more successful when we know why we’re doing it. If you don’t get clear on your why then the initial burst of enthusiasm will soon drain away (and the clutter will soon build up again).
If you’re decluttering your home because it’s the ‘in thing’ to do, you’ve just watched a YouTube video or read a blog post and you think chucking out your clutter will change your life, I’m afraid the answer is no. What will make a difference is how you think about clutter.
- What does your clutter hold you back from?
- What does it get in the way of?
- What does it stop you doing?
The majority of my clutter was in my home. We had too much stuff and I was forever clearing, tidying and cleaning. I also had clutter in my schedule. Too many things I’d said yes to, or felt I should be doing and not enough blank free space to do whatever I really wanted to do.
There are many different types of clutter but ultimately, it’s about a trade-off. If it’s clutter, it’s stuff getting in the way of something else. If you take a moment to work out why you want to declutter, it will make the actual process of decluttering easier.
- Declutter your closet so you can find clothes and put together outfits that make you feel good quickly and easy on those busy week-day mornings.
- Declutter your digital photos so you can find the ones that mean the most to you amongst the blurry, wonky, duplicate ones.
- Declutter your desk so you can work more efficiently.
Important tip: Decluttering is about trade-offs but it’s also about removing some stuff so that you can have more of something else. Successful decluttering isn’t just about getting rid of things for the sake of it.
Get clear on what you want more of – your why – and then you’ll more easily understand what you want less of.
Action point: Try these journaling prompts for decluttering your home and life with clarity and ease.
6. Reward and distraction
If you find decluttering boring, stressful or difficult, try distracting yourself whilst you declutter. Clearing the clutter may come with benefits but when we’re knee-deep in bin bags or sifting through old photos that we can’t bear to part with, decluttering can feel tough.
Use the time to listen to a podcast, play your favourite music, have the TV on in the background. Make yourself a favourite drink and something tasty to snack on. Have a plan for what you’re going to do when you’ve finished so you’ve got something to look forward to.
Decluttering is meant to simplify your home and life and create a little more space and ease. Make it an enjoyable exercise to approach rather than something you’re dreading and you’ll find it easier and more productive!
Action point: Try these tips on how to make decluttering fun!
7. Shift your mindset
Decluttering isn’t something that you do once and then forget about it. Clutter tries to creep into our homes and lives in many ways, from the junk mail through our letterboxes and inboxes to the packaging that surrounds our food.
Although decluttering can be a project in itself, such as decluttering our kitchen cupboards or our craft supplies, I think it helps to think of it more long-term.
If we clear a counter and tick it off our checklist, we’re going to be disappointed and discouraged when that clutter builds up again. Unless that is, we can reframe our thoughts. Be vigilant for clutter build-up, put systems in place to avoid that clutter and keep a regular eye out for it in our everyday lives.
As lovely as it would be to think of decluttering as a once-and-you’re-done kind of task, it’s actually more like keeping a clean home. Your home is clean the moment you clean it, but we all know that the dust and dirt soon build up if you don’t clean regularly. Decluttering is much the same. Think of it as an ongoing lifestyle and mindset rather than a one-off task.
8. Create a good decluttering habit
Continuing with the clean home analogy above, one of the simplest ways to make decluttering easier is by doing it regularly. Of course, it might help to do one (or maybe more) big decluttering sessions but, like many things in life, doing them little and often can really make a daunting job feel much less overwhelming. Housework done once a month will be a bigger job than a few chores done every day.
Try not to let the clutter creep around your home and build up so that it’s a big task to tackle it. Put some simple daily routines in place to build a strong decluttering habit and keep on top of the clutter and you’ll give yourself much less work generally.
It’s also helpful to break the cycle of clutter coming into our home and life. Here are some tips on how to stop the clutter cycle so you can create some breathing space between you and your stuff!
Action point: For some ideas, read this article on 20 daily habits for a clutter-free home.
9. Break it down into small decluttering projects
Decluttering doesn’t have to be a huge project. If you’re tight for time or low on energy then try breaking it down into smaller projects which feel easier.
You could break it down into short bursts of time. Perhaps set a timer on your phone and declutter for 10 minutes, then have a break. Or you could fit it in between other tasks. For example, declutter a kitchen drawer whilst you wait for the dinner to cook.
Lack of time is one of the most common reasons why many of us feel that decluttering is difficult. Yet, it’s amazing what you can do with 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there. Make a list of the different areas you’d like to declutter so that when you do have a window of time, you can make the most of it! Read this article on how to declutter when you don’t have time for some more tips.
You could also break decluttering down into smaller, more manageable projects. For example, don’t feel you have to declutter the entire kitchen in one go. Just do one cupboard or drawer at a time. The end result will be the same.
10. Deal with the unwanted stuff straightaway
Don’t be tempted to sit back and think you’re done until the rubbish bag is in the bin, the donate and recycle bags have been donated and recycled.
Otherwise you’ll find your family rooting through the bags, pulling out items they’d forgotten they had and now want to keep. All your hard work (and maybe theirs) will be undone.
Have a plan for what you’re going to do with your unwanted stuff. What will you recycle, throw, donate or sell? Think of this as part of any decluttering project and be firm with yourself to get it done. Don’t fling things in the car and drive around with them for a month!
Important tip: I also find that having a plan for my unwanted stuff helps relieve any feelings of guilt or wastefulness associated with decluttering. Although I don’t want my stuff any more, I like to think that somebody else might be able to use and love my stuff instead so I’m excited to donate whatever I can.
I hope you found this article helpful and it gave you some tips and ways to make decluttering easier.
We covered some practical ideas such as knowing where to start, making the best use of the time you have available and having a plan for the stuff you’re getting rid of. However, like anything in life, things are often easier when you understand why you’re doing it, a clear vision of what you want to achieve at the end and getting into the right mindset.
Below I’ve listed some decluttering resources and there’s my free Declutter Starter Kit to help you further. Good luck!
RESOURCES ON DECLUTTERING
Here are some more articles and resources to help make decluttering easier:
- How to declutter your home and life – a complete guide to clearing clutter and keeping it away with simple tips and extra resources to help and inspire you!
- What is clutter? 7 ways to think about your stuff
- 20 amazing benefits of a decluttered home
- 10 reasons to declutter your home
- Is your Silent To Do List stealing your time and energy?
- Can you declutter too much? When decluttering goes too far
- Declutter Starter Kit – a free workbook to help you start decluttering your home, schedule, heart and mind.
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I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!