So the time has come to tackle physical clutter. You have decided enough is enough, but just where do you begin? It all looks so overwhelming. What do I do and where do I start?
The process can seem insurmountable but planning it out can help. This article “Simplify Your Life-Plan a Self Retreat and Profoundly Change Your Life” can give you some ideas.
First things first, go room to room. What’s overwhelming in there? What is there too much of and what is there that is just a “hot mess”? Take a notepad and pen if that helps and write down what needs accomplishing in those rooms.
Before starting any big decluttering project, you will want to have the following:
- large trash bag
- large cardboard boxes x 3
- a magic marker or large tip sharpie
You can get these large cardboard boxes at grocery or department stores. These boxes held products that came into the store for them and they are just disposing of them. They’ll be free. Just ask an employee. Label the boxes 1. for donation 2. for sale 3. for relocation.
Do I Have Time To Tackle Physical Clutter?
Just for the record, chances are that the clutter didn’t happen overnight and clearing it won’t happen quickly either (depending on the area you are decluttering). Decluttering a junk drawer will take less time than decluttering an entire kitchen.
You know you need to clear the clutter, so make the commitment. Be realistic with yourself about the time you can devote to it. Look at your schedule. Can you rearrange or cancel other things to allow yourself to devote to decluttering fully? How much time do you have? If you can arrange a full day, you can probably do a larger space like a kitchen or bedroom. If you only have an hour or two, you can divide a large area into sections. Some sections in a kitchen could be the pantry, upper cupboards, lower cupboards, kitchen island space.
Also, never underestimate the power of 15 minutes and a timer. You would be amazed at how much you can accomplish in this manner. Think of smaller areas that could be decluttered in 15 minutes. Some areas could be medicine cabinet, front entranceway closet, dresser drawers, junk drawer. Set the timer and go! Consider using this method when you have spots of time. You’ll be amazed at what you are able to accomplish!
Decluttering a Large Space
Spaces such as kitchens, bedrooms, garages, and basements fall into this category. Be prepared to spend several hours on this. It may even run into a 2-day project. If you can get helpers for this project, it can be very beneficial. Have your trash bag and 3 labeled cardboard boxes in the room or just outside the room in a hallway.
In order to declutter an area, you’ll want to start with an open playing field. Have a place to put things when you remove them from the closet or dresser. Have open space on the bed to put things.
Start with the closet. Take EVERYTHING out. Put them in common piles e.g. shirts, pants, dresses, purses, shoes. If you find items that obviously don’t belong in the bedroom, decide which box it goes into. Do I donate it to charity? Do I sell it? Does it go in another room?-relocation box. Maybe it’s just trash. Next, go through the clothes in categories. e.g. go through the shirts. Do I like this? Do I wear this? Does it fit me? Is it in good shape? Does it need repair? Is this the season to wear it? Decide what stays and what goes.
You may want to store seasonal clothes in a particular part of the closet or in another room entirely. Decide on this before putting it back in the closet. Go through this process for the other items you want in your closet. You will probably want to wipe down shelving and vacuum the inside before returning the items too. Before too long, you will have a closet that is less cluttered and has clothes you are using regularly. Follow this same process for your dresser drawers and any other areas you have in your bedroom that is in need of decluttering.
The Kids’ Room
Kids’ rooms can undergo the same type of process, but you will likely need to go through toys as well. What types of toys are being stored in your child’s room? What do they like? What do they not play with? What have they outgrown? Go through books as well. Anything that is not staying goes through the same process with the cardboard boxes.
The kitchen will be a big project if you need to go through it all. Again, have your trash bag and cardboard boxes handy for things you won’t be keeping, or keeping in the kitchen. Have cleared spaces to put things out on. Countertops, tables, kitchen islands come to mind. Start with the cabinets and drawers that house your utensils, dishes, pots and pans, storage containers-you get the idea. Do you have way too many cups? Decide what stays and what goes. Have too many spatulas? Which ones will you keep? Do you have a lot of mismatched plastic containers and covers? Chances are, they aren’t serving a purpose so send them out.
Wipe down the cupboards. Store all similar products together. Silverware, kitchen tongs, and utensils, dishes, storage containers, pots & pans. You will soon find order and space again to your cabinets and drawers!
When it comes time to do the pantry and fridge, again, empty out those spaces. You’ll probably want to clean them out too while you have the open space. Check all expiry dates and discard what is outdated. Do you have foods that are unopened, but you know you won’t be using them? Local food banks will take unopened products. When returning the items to the pantry or the fridge, keep like items together that will be easy to spot. For example, meats, cheeses, dairy, condiments, spices, cereals, canned goods, and other similar food categories. Whatever will make sense to you and your family.
The Garage and Basement
These areas tend to be for storage and when you are decluttering, it’s an opportunity to go through things and decide what is staying and what is going. If you can do it, removing everything out of the garage will give you a good chance to really see what’s there. Chances are, if you have decluttered the space of many items, you might want to store them in a way that is even better for you to access as necessary. It’s harder to move everything out of a basement, but if you can move it from one side of the basement to the other, you can at least work with a cleared wall space when it’s time to arrange your basement space again.
What Happens With The Cardboard Boxes?
In the case of a very large decluttering project like whole house wide or several rooms, you will find it handy to have a room or space as a catch-all–but just for a short time. Make arrangements to have donation items picked up or take them to your local shop. Take consignment items out too. If the consignment places don’t need them, donate them.
For the “relocation box”, If it’s obvious where the items need to be, return them there. If you aren’t sure, store them in the “catch-all” room. This could be a spare bedroom or even the basement. When you get to that area to declutter, you will be able to determine where it goes then or maybe that it does need to go.
Decluttering is Good
Although it can be a time-consuming process, in the end, it is very satisfying to have a decluttered space. You see clean, open space that is easy to move around in. Looking at an open space also makes you see and focus more clearly on your surroundings. You lose the claustrophobic feeling. A decluttered space, also, of course, makes it easier to find things when you are looking for them.
Decluttering is worth it, and it is something worth doing on a regular basis. Perhaps once or twice a year depending on your circumstances. Our lives change, and time evolves. We inevitably will gather more items. The good news is that when decluttering is done regularly, the process gets easier and easier.
Get Your Decluttering Handbook!
In the beginning, the process of decluttering can seem as overwhelming as clutter is itself! I want to help you conquer the clutter with this Decluttering Handbook. It will give you a roadmap on what to declutter in your home. You can use this as a guide as you begin your decluttering process.
Are you ready for a cleaner and more serene environment that is free of clutter? Well, let’s get started!
Frequently Asked Questions
This is really dependent on the time you have and the areas you think need the most attention. You want to think about what you can get done in the time you have available. If you have an hour chose a task you can get done in the time frame. Maybe a bookcase or a set of drawers. When you have the better part of a day, you will want to tackle larger jobs like kitchen cupboards and pantry. Putting a big dent in the garage decluttering would probably be more of a day project.
If it is something of deep sentimental value to you, keep it. It will bring fond memories for you. If you can look at the object objectively and truly feel you don’t have deep feelings about it one way or the other, you can either keep it and re-evaluate it for the next decluttering, or get rid of it.
It really depends on the amount of clutter you have, the time you have to work at it and if you have any helpers. It is a big project. If you can look at it in terms of the outcome-a beautiful fresh, serene space. it will be worth the work involved.
Also be aware that some decluttering “touchups” will be required form time to time. Our life experiences change and so does our stuff. It seems to creep in. Just know that doing this process fairly regularly, at least every year, you will notice it is easier as time goes on because there is not as much to do.
After years of weight issues, I have finally found the formula of combining healthy food choices, regular exercise and positive behavior change to lose weight for good. Coupled with, exploring self-development, being productive and living simply, I am now maintaining a healthy lifestyle and in a good place. I enjoy writing articles to help my readers to become the best they can be!