WHERE TO START DECLUTTERING YOUR HOME: 6 HELPFUL TIPS
Decluttering can be stressful and overwhelming and it’s easy to get stuck before you’ve even begun. To make the process easier, here are some suggestions on where to start decluttering your home and 6 helpful tips so you can become clutter-free without the hassle.
WHY DECLUTTER YOUR HOME?
Before we look at where to start decluttering your home, I’d like to ask you a question. Why do you want to declutter your home?
I know from decluttering my own home, that there are some wonderful benefits to decluttering. Not only can you clear space and make your home easier to run, but you can also create calm and peace. These were all things that made a difference to me when I was juggling work and kids and a busy, noisy, cluttered home full of toys and stuff.
My decluttered home no longer drained my energy and no longer sucked my time. The hours that I’d usually spent tidying, clearing and cleaning could be used to spend family time with my kids, chat with my partner, relax by myself.
I knew that if I let housework slide for a day or two, then no big deal. My home would still be presentable to guests and liveable in by my family and I.
A clutter-free home had such wonderful benefits that I gradually became clutter-free in other areas of my life – my schedule, my to do list, my eating habits and mindset.
I naturally chose less over more. Less stuff in my home, stress in my life and commitments in my diary. It didn’t make for a perfect life, but it was certainly an easier one!
HOW TO DECLUTTER
Some people find decluttering easy. You grab a box or bag and go through every room in your home sussing out what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of.
You can ask yourself some questions to help you decide what to declutter or, as you get more practiced, you’ll instinctively begin to know what you want to stay and what’s no longer serving you.
However, for many people, decluttering is overwhelming.
- It can take time, it’s difficult to find the motivation, tough to make decisions.
- Maybe you’re decluttering on your own and don’t have much support from others in your home. You might even be living with a hoarder in the family (yes, this was me with my husband!). There may be confrontation or frustration when others aren’t on the same page as you.
- Even if you are able to declutter some things quite quickly, there’s always tricky, difficult to declutter places such as garages, the attic, sentimental items, toys. Too many decisions, too many emotions and it’s too much in general!
All of these situations are very familiar and I completely understand why so many people don’t know where to start decluttering. That’s why I’d like to share some helpful tips and ideas on where to start decluttering your home (and perhaps your life too!).
GETTING STARTED DECLUTTERING
Getting started with most things is the most difficult step. Once we’ve started and maybe even seen and/or felt a little bit of progress then we’re much more likely to feel motivated to continue.
Starting to declutter your home is no different. The very act of deciding you want to declutter and WHY (remember I asked you that question at the start of this article) is the first and most important step to what comes next.
Understanding your ‘why’ is key to decluttering. Not just clearing that clutter now but, importantly, for keeping it away. Unless you know why you want to declutter and why you’ve been holding onto stuff up until now, clutter will creep back into your home, slowly but surely.
Before we continue, I invite you to grab a notebook and pen and answer these next two questions, or just sit quietly and reflect on them in your mind:
- Why do you want to declutter? What will change, what do you hope will be different and how will it be different?
- Why have you been holding on to your clutter? Did you realise you had clutter? Do you hold onto things because you find it difficult to make decisions? Do you keep things ‘just in case’? How many of those ‘just in case’ moments have you had? What’s the worst that can happen if you declutter something that you later realise you need?
These questions might be challenging for you to answer but I encourage you to be honest. Your answers might help you understand why you find decluttering difficult and keep you going when you hit a stumbling block.
And finally, a little reminder that you don’t need to declutter everything all in one go. Do it this way and it’s quite likely you’ll throw things out and later regret it. Go slowly, go steadily but keep it up, even if it’s just one item per day. Speed doesn’t matter. Consistency and intention (knowing your ‘why’) do.
WHERE TO START DECLUTTERING
Now we’ve looked at why you want to declutter, the benefits of decluttering and that speed doesn’t matter (your intention does), here are some ideas on where to start decluttering your home and 6 helpful tips that you can begin with today.
1. Start in an easy place
When we’re starting out with anything (not just decluttering) and we feel it might be a little tough, it’s always worth choosing the path of least resistance, until you find your feet. For this reason, I often suggest people start by decluttering 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 unlikely that there’ll be any sentimental items for you to spend ages deliberating over. And, there won’t be so many items that you get bogged down and lose motivation.
Don’t decide to declutter the garage or attic until you’re more used to making decluttering decisions (and explaining to others in your home if they don’t understand or share your enthusiasm) because you’ll likely give up before you’ve even 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.
For busy mums, it’s usually the toys. If you want the best and quickest results that will make the biggest difference to you, then tackle these first. Work out what you want to throw away – toys that are no longer played with, broken or have pieces missing, and keep the ones that are played with all the time.
If you don’t have kids, you might like to think about decluttering your clothes and making it easier to get dressed each morning. Or maybe your kitchen cupboards are crammed full of crockery, cutlery and gadgets you never use and you can’t find what you need when you cook dinner every evening?
3. Try decluttering somewhere that will make you feel good
I started with decluttering my wardrobe. I was getting more and more fed up with looking like something that the cat had dragged in. I had a wardrobe full of clothes but didn’t wear about 60% of them and I could never find anything to wear each morning. So, I’d end up reaching for the jeans and sweater at the top of the clean laundry pile, again.
When I decluttered my wardrobe, I got rid of over 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 is so much easier, quicker and more fun now. Decluttering my wardrobe came with these great benefits, so it motivated me to want to carry on decluttering other areas, so I could see and feel some more fantastic benefits!
Another option is to focus on an area of your home where you spend time or it’s important to you to keep calm and clutter-free, such as your bedroom. Here are some tips on how to declutter your bedroom and why it matters.
4. Declutter in waves
Try decluttering in waves. Do a quick sweep of each room or area, to declutter the obvious stuff. Then go back in smaller waves and each time you’ll notice something new in the room that you hadn’t noticed before. Decluttering gets easier with practice so just dive in and get started!
5. Break it down into manageable chunks
Don’t plan to declutter a big project, like the entire kitchen, in one go. That might feel overwhelming and is just likely to take you ages and put you off before you’ve even started.
Instead, try breaking it down into manageable chunks. Using the kitchen as an example, try breaking it up into – cupboards, drawers, worktops, gadgets, appliances, the fridge and stock cupboard. You can tackle these one by one in stages, so it feels easier and less overwhelming than attempting to do the entire kitchen in one go.
6. Declutter little and often
You might find it easier and more convenient to do decluttering little and often rather than dedicating a large chunk of time to it. Not many of us can devote a whole day or weekend to clearing our clutter, or want to for that matter!
Doing 5, 10 or 20 minutes consistently, here or there in small windows, will get you much better results than doing nothing for a week then catching up all Saturday.
Just plan what and where you’re going to declutter with each spare bit of time. This way you’re organised and know what needs to be done in the time you’ve got available, rather than wasting time deciding when you could actually be decluttering.
If you prefer to work from a list, here are 100 things to get rid of today to declutter your home. There’s a free printable you can get to help you on your way!
MAINTAINING A CLUTTER-FREE HOME
One of the biggest obstacles to knowing where to start decluttering is actually what’s going to happen afterwards. We sometimes question what’s the point of getting rid of things because they’ll just build up afterwards. In fact, letting that clutter back in is almost certainly going to undo your hard work. You’ll get frustrated and lose motivation.
So, as part of a strategy of deciding where to start decluttering, I encourage you to think about how you’re going to stay clutter-free afterwards.
You might like to read these 20 daily habits to stay clutter-free for some simple tips and ideas.
RESOURCES ON DECLUTTERING
I hope you found this article helpful and you have some ideas on where to start decluttering your own home. Here are some other decluttering resources to help clear your clutter and keep it away!
- How to declutter your home and life – a roundup of decluttering dos, don’ts and resources
- Reasons to declutter your home
- What to do if no-one else in your home wants to declutter
- How to declutter when you don’t have time
- Decluttering mistakes and how to overcome them
- Simplify Your Home – a guide and workbook to help you declutter your home, room-by-room. With checklists, further reading and lots of actionable steps and prompts to help you understand WHAT clutters your home, WHY it’s there and WHAT to do about it.
Tuesday 26th of May 2020
Hello Antonia, I’ve been really inspired by your actions to take control of your life . I’m using your great tips to get organised , refreshed and feel like my load is lighter. Thankyou Jo x
Balance Through Simplicity
Wednesday 27th of May 2020
Hi Jo, thank you. I'm so pleased the tips are helping! Good luck! X