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How to Successfully Declutter Anything in Your Home!

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It’s January – a month where most of us decide to get a little more organised – and with that tends to come the need for a bit of decluttering – that’s where this post on How To Declutter comes in.

We have had the excesses of Christmas – the house is probably fuller than its been all year thanks to Christmas presents, extra food and bits for guests etc…. – and its time to get sorted. So I thought that now was the perfect time to write a post on the method I use to declutter any part of the house – whether it be a drawer, a cupboard, or an entire room.

step by step guide to decluttering

How to declutter – a step by step guide….

 

STEP ONE – Decide on what you will declutter

Its important to identify where you are going to tackle when you set out to declutter – as the scope can change as you go, and overwhelm can easily set in.

If you have a very cluttered space, then consider starting small with a drawer or a cupboard first so you can see progress and gather momentum.

If the room isn’t too bad, then do the whole room.

Work how you prefer, and with what you feel comfortable with given the time you have available.

I have chosen my utility, as there was lots of stuff in it waiting to be put away after a weekend of chores, and with the aftermath of Christmas (we tend to put things out of the way in the utility until we have time to sort it all out – so it can easily become a dumping ground).

Here’s the picture of what it looked like before:-

Utility Cluttered Before  - via organisemyhouse.com

STEP TWO – Assess the space

To declutter properly – you need to know what actually constitutes clutter in that space in the first place.

Clutter is simply that which does not belong in the space

.

Its worth taking a few minutes to assess the space you are decluttering. Are you using it in the right way for your needs? Do you need to also have other things there once you are organised? Is it purely a decluttering exercise  without the need to reorganise as well?

For example – my utility is pretty organised – the cupboards work well, its just that its got cluttered recently. As such this is purely a decluttering job – and I know exactly what items belong in the space and what don’t.

If I were to be decluttering a home that needed organising as well, I would have firstly assessed the house and ensured I knew roughly what I wanted in which room – so that I could start to move things around as I went through the house.

For now though – lets stick to decluttering!

STEP THREE – Clear your working space

When you declutter – you make mess.

Fact.

It has to get worse before it can get better – so make it easier on yourself by making a good working space before you start.

Areas that you could use:-

  • An adjacent room
  • A trestle table in the middle of the room
  • A sheet on the floor
  • A table or bed or any large space that’s clear in the room already

You are basically looking for somewhere that’s easily accessible to you, that you don’t have to bend down too much (if you have lots of decluttering to do then I strongly recommend using a trestle table rather than the floor as it keeps everything at a height that’s more comfortable – its also useful if theres no available floor space as yet, as you only need space for 4 legs!).

For me, the dining area in my kitchen is right next to the utility, and the dining table and the space around it was clear – so that made sense:-

clearing a space for decluttering via www.organisemyhouse.com

STEP FOUR – Get your kit ready

You don’t need much for decluttering alone (the gadgets, baskets, craft bits etc… can come when you are organising the space and know what you have to organise).

Basically – there are 3 things you will need:-

  • Category Labels and Marker Pen
  • Containers / Bags
  • Step Ladder or Chair (to get to the hard to reach places!)

Easy!

Now, I have done a bit of decluttering in my time (!) and to save me the time of creating labels every time I do a project, I made some reusable category labels that are laminated. {LINK TO FREE PRINTABLE POST FOR THESE – CLICK HERE}

Decluttering Category Cards via www.organisemyhouse.com

They are easy to carry around – and I have a blank one for any categories I forget (and they are so pretty, they make decluttering much less of a chore!)

You don’t of course have to go to this much effort (I like them as they are clear and I can see whats what at a glance), and you can get the same effect with coloured paper or post it notes and a marker pen.

Whatever way you choose to write the categories down, think of what you need for the space you are decluttering.

Categories you may want to pick from include:-

KEEP / KEEP – FREQUENT USE / KEEP – INFREQUENT USE / KEEP – OUT OF SEASON / MEND / RECYCLE / SHRED / FILE / RUBBISH / CHARITY / GIVE AWAY / FOR ANOTHER ROOM / SELL  etc…..

For this project I chose the 8 categories below:-

Decluttering Categories via www.organisemyhouse.com

I then gave each category a space in my working area, added the label to this space so I could see at a glance what was what, and then added in any bins bags or baskets that I thought may be useful.

4. setting up the space (1)

4. setting up the space (3)

4. setting up the space (4)

The trick is to make life as easy for yourself as possible both during and after decluttering.

TIP – Use a black bin bag for rubbish so that you can put in the bin straight away and don’t have to look at everything again – as this is where you may start to change your mind about things!……

TIP – Use a basket with handles for the category FOR ANOTHER ROOM as then you can easily carry it around the house when you are finished, and put things back where they should go.

STEP FIVE – Mark out your territory!

Whatever you are decluttering, if you start at random, you may end up confused and overwhelmed, which we want to avoid at all costs!

What I suggest is to mark out the space you are decluttering into manageable pieces. I usually create a 3 * 3 grid of the space (whether its a drawer or an entire room), and I do each of the 9 segments one at a time, working from top to bottom of each segment, and from the far corner of the space to the door – working out of the room basically.

Example:-

grid for decluttering via www.organisemyhouse.com

So in my utility, the door is in section 9 – so I will work in this order – 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 5, 8, 6, 9 and work my way out of the room. This works really well as then you are not walking back over decluttered space, and possibly cluttering it up again as you go.

TIP – if you find yourself easily distracted, you could even physically mark out these areas with masking tape – this works well as you can see the progress you are making.

 

STEP SIX – Declutter!

Go through the space in the order you have selected – and make a decision on each item you pick up.

Place each item in one of the categories you have created, and work your way around the space.

NB – I don’t tend to have a “MAYBE” pile when I am decluttering, as for me this is too easy for things to end up in – and I have to then make more decisions and feel less happy at the end. I try and make a decision there and then, and stick to it. This is totally personal though, and if you are someone who needs the feel of a safety net like this, then you may want to have a box for maybes – one idea to minimise the effect of this is to seal it after decluttering has finished. If you don’t miss anything after 6 months then simply throw the box away without opening it, if you do miss it, then get it out!

TIP – Don’t move out of the space until you have finished – you have a category for “DIFFERENT ROOM” so don’t be tempted to wander off when you find something that goes elsewhere. Distractions means things will take longer and you are more likely to not finish.

When you have an item in your hand – ask yourself the initial question – do you want to keep it? Then ask the right sub questions to decide where it should go after that:-

KEEP IT

  • Is it in the right room? If not, put in “DIFFERENT ROOM” category
  • Do you need it now? If not, put in “OUT OF SEASON” category
  • Does it need anything doing to it before it can go back in the space? put in “MEND” category
  • If none of the above, then simply add to the “KEEP” pile

GET RID OF IT

  • Is it in good condition? “GIVE AWAY”, “SELL”, “CHARITY” categories are all options
  • Can it be recycled? “RECYCLE” category
  • If none of these, then “RUBBISH” category

You may have other questions, dependent on what you are decluttering. For example, when decluttering paperwork you need to shred papers that are confidential before putting in the bin.

If in doubt – go through each category and find the best fit for what you have.

TIP – Make it fun! – Turn on some music, watch a TV programme while sorting paperwork etc…. – it needn’t be a dull task!

TIP – Time it! – Why not race against the clock so you keep motivated and it takes you less time. I like to set the oven timer to go off after half an hour – its amazing how much you can get done, and you usually find you are happy to continue for another go!

By now you should have your working space fully stocked with the items from the space you are decluttering – I expect that the “KEEP” pile will be the biggest in most cases:-

5. everything in categories (1)

 

5. everything in categories (2)

STEP SEVEN – Put everything away.

This should now be quite easy to do, as you have got everything in the right piles, and probably in the right containers as well.

Start with putting back everything you want to keep in the space (its worth cleaning the area before you put it all back as well, as this will take seconds when its empty). Its worth saying here that if you were looking to organise each space after you have decluttered, then you may want to put things back roughly where you think they will go (and sort things into piles so that like items are together) – that way you can see at a glance whether things need containers, dividers etc…. – but for now, as we are only decluttering – put things back wherever makes the most sense to you right now.

Next, get rid of anything that’s leaving the house. If you can’t actually get to the tip, or the charity shop etc.. on that same day, then label the containers and either put into the boot of your car ready, or into the garage. If you are decluttering several areas, or over several days, then you may want to wait to make these trips as then you can do it all in one go when you have finished.

Lastly – take everything that belongs in a different room and put it back where it should go.

You should now be able to see your space in a whole different light – without things that don’t belong in there – and you may now want to organise the space to take it that step further – but for now, lets leave it at that – organising’s for another day!

Enjoy the space, feel lighter now you have less clutter – and put your feet up – you deserve it!

utility after declutering via www.organisemyhouse.com

In summary

Decluttering utility before and after via www.organisemyhouse.comIf you follow this simple step by step guide the next time you declutter, then it should go pretty smoothly! I’d love to know how you get on as well so please let me know in the comments below!

  • Step 1 – Decide on what you’ll declutter
  • Step 2 – Assess the space
  • Step 3 – Clear your working space
  • Step 4 – Get your kit ready
  • Step 5 – Mark out your territory
  • Step 6 – Declutter
  • Step 7 – Put everything away

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13 Responses to “How to Successfully Declutter Anything in Your Home!”

  1. Nicola says:

    I used this method to do my kitchen today and was amazed at how easy it was. Using the labels and working on one zone at a time made it quick and easy, and I managed to get the whole room done in just a few hours. This was with 2 young children aswell. Thank you for the hints and step by step instructions. I am doing my living room tomorrow with the method, I’m hooked.

  2. Shirley says:

    I love your blog. Can’t wait to try your system. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Carol says:

    You give me hope, Chrissy! I was taken with your approach in how appealing and user-friendly it looks! Thank you for inviting us into your home to see the real workings of your method!! Who else does that? So often, I have just waded through wordy blah, blah, blahs that sound about as dry and inspiring as cardboard. But you have brought decluttering/organizing to life!! As soon as life permits me to try out your method, I am sure it will work for me!! THANK YOU!

    • Hi Carol – what a lovely message to get on a Monday morning! thanks so much for taking the time to comment, and I am so pleased that you have been inspired by my blog – Good luck with everything and keep me updated with how you are going! x

  4. Sarah says:

    I just found your site via pinterest, great ideas! I’m sure you already know…but organise is spelled organize…

    • Hi Sarah – thanks for your lovely comment about the site – just want to say though that over here in the UK we spell Organise with an s – its only the US and Canada that spell it with a Z – confusing I know!

  5. jennys645 says:

    I pray that one day I could actually declutter my garage and my kid’s rooms! The problem is my kids (aged 21,24 & 27) live on their own (small apartment) and still don’t want we to get rid of their video games, wooden doll cradle, doll sets, books or train sets, etc. They have an attachment to these items and whenever I whisper the words sell or donate, its like being on trial!

  6. garage storage systems says:

    great post

  7. Julia says:

    Deciding on what to declutter is the first and biggest step for many of us. I like how you are flexible in your scope and willing to start with a smaller area like a drawer instead of tackling a whole room. As a suggestion, maybe before going into step 2 to assess the space, you could take a minute or two to close your eyes and think back to all the times you’ve used that area. Doing this will show you why you even use it based on real life experience and this can help tremendously when deciding what to throw and where it’s better placed.

  8. Ashleigh says:

    I love this website and I’m trying your method today as soon as I’ve finished this cuppa. No procrastinating and hoping that my 2 year old twin boys and 7 month old don’t distract me too much. This article was inspiring and showed me how easy it is to get started (I’m usually overwhelmed, my house is hectic). Thank you. x

    • Chrissy Halton says:

      Hi Ashleigh – so pleased this article has helped you – and I hope that the decluttering goes well today. I’d love to know how you got on…. x

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