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How to successfully declutter anything in your home!

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It’s usually a given that in your home at any one time there is “stuff”to declutter. As such I have written this step by step guide on how to declutter that show you how to get rid of the clutter in your home in a way that’s not too overwhelming – I really hope it helps.

It’s time to get sorted – this is the method I use to declutter any part of the house – whether it be a drawer, a cupboard, or an entire room.

Learn all the tricks and tips to decluttering your home successfully - don't get bogged down and stressed - follow this simple step by step guide to rid your home of clutter

declutter anything

STEP ONE – Decide on what you will declutter

It’s 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 (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

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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STEP SIX – Declutter!

Go through the space in the order you have selected – and place each item into one of the category areas you have created, and work your way around the space from item to item until you have looked at everything.

Note – 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 – Try and place LIKE WITH LIKE in your keep pile i.e. all trousers together, all pens together etc…. – this will help you in the next step.

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)

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STEP SEVEN – Make sure your KEEP pile is right!

It’s worth taking a minute here to go through your KEEP pile and check that what you have is what you really want to keep.

I mentioned in the last step that you should try and place all LIKE items together in your KEEP pile – i.e. all trousers together, all pens together etc….

This gives you the opportunity to do one last check on that which you want to keep – as you may well want to keep all your jeans (for example) when decluttering your wardrobe because wear them most days, but when you see that you actually have 32 pairs you may well be willing to declutter a few now!

Take a few minutes to make sure what you are keeping is really what you want to keep – that way you won’t be wasting space by keeping too much of any one thing.

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STEP EIGHT – Put everything away.

This should now be quite easy to do, as you have got everything in the right category piles ready to action.

Start with putting back everything you want to keep in the space (it’s worth cleaning the area before you put it all back as well, as this will take seconds when its empty).

It’s also 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 – 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

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how to successfully declutterIf you follow these 8 simple steps the next time you declutter, then it should go pretty smoothly!

You will make the space work really well, and keep only that which really matters to you and your home – and what could be better than that!

Here’s a recap on the steps for you:-

  • 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 – Re-check your KEEP pile for too many of any one item
  • Step 8 – Put everything away

Do you declutter regularly? Do you find it hard? I’d love to know so please leave a comment below!

Want to get started on your decluttering? Why not join the 20 week declutter challenge – a different area of your home and life is tackled each week – you can join at any point:-

0. cut the clutter weeks list (11)

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  • Nicola

    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.

    • http://www.organisemyhouse.com Chrissy Halton

      Hi Nicola – thats fantastic news! So pleased you are finding it a good way to do things – I would love to hear how the living room goes as well!

  • Shirley

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

    • http://www.organisemyhouse.com Chrissy Halton

      Hi Shirley – thanks for your lovely comment – I’d love to know how you go when you try the system!

  • Carol

    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!

    • http://www.organisemyhouse.com Chrissy Halton

      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

  • Sarah

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

    • http://www.organisemyhouse.com Chrissy Halton

      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!

  • jennys645

    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!

  • garage storage systems

    great post

  • Julia

    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.

  • Ashleigh

    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

      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

  • http://tidyawaytoday.co.uk Antonia Ludden

    Great article Chrissy, really good advice – thank you for sharing – and I am putting it into action today in our sons’ tip of a shared bedroom. Just given your article a mention on my FB page too so hopefully others can follow your method :)

    Have a great new year! Antonia x

    • Chrissy Halton

      Hi Antonia – thanks for your lovely comment and thanks also for sharing on Facebook – really glad you liked the article! love your site as well and read it often x Happy new year to you too x Chrissy

  • Alexys

    Great post! I love the idea of zone cleaning. I tend to be one of those people who *tries* to tackle the whole room all at once and then I get overwhelmed and give up. I’m with you, I don’t have a maybe pile. It’s yes or no. If I think ‘maybe’ right now I know that my love/need for the item has already deteriorated since I originally said, ‘YES!’ and brought it into my home- soooo, OUT it goes.

    I’m super excited about this challenge!

    • Chrissy Halton

      Hi Alexys – I am so pleased the challenge has excited you, and that zones work for you too – Maybe piles are definitely to be kept clear of, and I wish you all the best of luck for the challenge x

  • Linda Schwendeman

    I like your post Chrissy! My biggest problem is distractions. I have ADD and have had to stop taking my medication. It’s a struggle but I might be able to use your system and get it done. Keep your fingers crossed for me, cause my house is a disaster!
    Thanks for the information and instructions!

    • Chrissy Halton

      Hi Linda – really glad the post has helped and given you a system that may work – I wish you all the luck and let me know how it goes x

  • Liz

    So glad I found this! In my last flat we had what my son called “the scary cupboard” I cleaned it out often but it was the only place to store things. In this flat there is no cupboard and we now have a scary room. Several attempts at decluttering and general tidying have failed., especially if I then have to look for something and it then looks like I have trashed the place. I am going to attempt it by adopting your methods. Do one section at a time and not get overwhelmed as I usually do. Great tips! Seems like common sense when you see it in black and white, but so easy to get overwhelmed with no plan. Thanks x

    • Chrissy Halton

      Hi Liz – I’m so glad this post has helped – and wish you all the best in your sorting! I’d love to know how you go following this method x

  • Jemma

    I’ve struggled for years to organise my home and now I can see where I was going wrong! I’ve been randomly trying to declutter and organise the whole house at once…and not surprisingly getting totally overwhelmed in the process and then inevitably giving up….but this post has given me hope that I can achieve the calm and organised home I dream of…I just need to do it one step at a time!
    So thanks a million, here’s to decluttering first…..and once that’s finished I’ll move on to the organising… Wish me luck….any tips on letting go of all the things I keep “just in case”?!?

    • Chrissy Halton

      Hello Jemma – thanks so much for a lovely comment – and I am so pleased that the post has made a difference for you – I really believe in my ADORE method which starts with Assessing and then decluttering – it takes a while before the organising can begin!

      In terms of letting go of things you are keeping “just in case” – this post will probably help – http://www.organisemyhouse.com/why-you-dont-want-to-declutter-5-reasons-to-let-the-guilt-go/

      Hope it all goes well x

  • Cathy Thomas

    great ideas!! I have a whole house to do, and it feels overwhelming!! Just too much stuff, and trying to minimilize!! One question off the subject tho. I have the exact same kitchen floor and I’m wondering how you keep your grout so clean!! Mine looks so dingy, even with weekly mopping!!

    • Chrissy Halton

      Hi Cathy – Glad that you got in touch and thanks for the comment. The grout on my kitchen floor seems to stay pretty clean without much cleaning fortunately so I am not sure whether they put a sealant on it when it was fitted. In my last house I did paint all the grout with a grout sealant myself that helped to repel the dirt and grime – a long job but well worth it! – hope that helps x

  • Emily

    I like these suggestions but my problem is a lot of the clutter is my husband’s stuff and I can’t ever get him to do anything with it. Any suggestions for that? If I start sorting his stuff into piles it will stay in piles forever.

    • Chrissy Halton

      Hi Emily. Other peoples clutter is such a difficult thing to deal with as it’s not yours so you can’t make the decisions for them. What I always suggest is that you lead by example. Take control of what IS yours, or that belongs to the home in general. Often seeing the transformation of not only the space but the general feeling of the house once decluttering has started is enough to get the other person/people to join in. It may well take time, but while this process is happening I also would suggest that you create somewhere that you can call your haven – a space that’s organised and looks how you want it to look – that you can escape to when you need to relax a little. Hopefully this helps x

  • Jennifer

    Very good article… have figured out most of these things the hard way :) I actually enjoy organizing, but I think this is extremely helpful for people who hate it and/or get too overwhelmed by it.
    Probably the only thing I would add is to do the sorting part as quickly as you can, because there is nothing worse than running out of steam after you’ve pulled everything out and made such a mess!

    • Chrissy Halton

      Hi Jennifer – thanks for your comment – I totally agree, the quicker you can get through it the better for your energy to keep going. It’s one of those things that takes less time the more you do it, as you get used to asking yourself what you want to do with the stuff you have – at first it can feel really hard to make the decisions and this is when energy can lag….

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  • http://dianawestrup.wordpress.com Diana Westrup

    Excellent article, great help for the messy ones… like me….

    Thanks for this post!

  • Danielle

    Having just started applying for new jobs (my kids are all now heading to full time school), It’s time for me to de-clutter and organise my home……hopefully this will make the transition from stay a home Mummy to Working Mummy slightly easier, you have soooo many helpful hints and tips, all I need now is your determination (and a partner that isn’t a hoarder) and may house may well look as beautiful as yours :) Thank you for the inspiration xx

    • Chrissy Halton

      Hi Danielle – really please you are enjoying the site – good luck with your return to work outside the house


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