The top two questions I get asked the most about a minimalist lifestyle and decluttering home easily go a little like this:
My house is so cluttered I don’t know where to start. What do I do?
I need help cleaning and organizing my house. Can you help?
I feel the pain of everyone who has left a comment like this because I have been there. The good news is there is a way to get past it all and have a home you love that is completely decluttered!
In this post, we’re going to discuss the following:
- Why it is important to declutter your life
- The benefits of decluttering your life
- What NOT to do when decluttering
- My approach for how to declutter your home and your life
- What to do when you finish decluttering
- Decluttering tips to keep your home decluttered
There are a lot of things to discuss, so let’s get into it!
Why it is important to declutter your life
Clutter sneaks up on you, and before you know it, you’re surrounded by things you don’t need or want. These things are everywhere because they don’t have a designated home.
Over time, you realize how much time you’re wasting trying to clean and organize, how stressed it is making you, and thinking about what you could be doing instead.
On the flip side, when you declutter your life, you take back control of your time. Everything has a home, so cleaning and organizing is a breeze.
You gain so much time back that you suddenly have time to do things you once loved, like photography, drawing, reading a book, etc.
More importantly, you have time to pursue your purpose in life without the distraction of clutter.
When you have your full attention on living your purpose, great things happen. Your fulfillment in life grows, you help other people improve their lives, and you get to live out your dreams for far longer.
When is clutter a problem?
Clutter is a problem when you spend more time focusing on it than you do the things in life that fulfill you.
If you refuse to have people over to visit because of your clutter, it is a problem.
Most of all, if your clutter makes you feel overwhelmed or stressed, it is a problem.
What is clutter?
Here is the Collins Dictionary definition for clutter:
Clutter is a lot of things in a messy state, especially things that are not useful or necessary.
I like this definition, as it points out that things are in a messy state and that they “are not useful or necessary”.
In addition to this definition, I think of clutter as a distraction. It prevents me from spending time on the things I enjoy doing because I’m focusing on organizing and tidying clutter that has nowhere to go.
Why should you declutter your life?
As human beings, we were meant to live purposefully. By decluttering your life, you keep focus on living a fulfilling life that is simpler and distraction-free.
Have you experienced a tidy home where everything has a home?
If so, you know how amazing and freeing that is.
If not, you are truly missing out on a key piece of freedom in your life, and you deserve to experience that freedom.
The benefits of decluttering your life
Less to clean
When you declutter surfaces of things that cluttered them, there is less to move around as you clean. This significantly cuts down on the time you spend cleaning.
Related Post: How to Cut Cleaning Time in Half
Less to organize
Decluttering allows you to get organized once and for all. You have space for the things you need and want.
By reducing or eliminating the need to reorganize your things, you gain a lot of time for doing things you want and love to do.
The biggest benefit I’ve gained from decluttering is my reduced anxiety. My clutter really took a toll on my mental health.
By removing the things you do not need or enjoy having, you can create a calmer space and reduce your anxiety significantly.
More financial freedom
When you declutter, you realize how much money you’ve spent on things that don’t serve you. It allows you to shift your mindset to reduce your consumption.
By becoming more conscious of the things you purchase, you can save a LOT of money and gain more financial freedom.
Decluttering can also be a way to make some money to put towards debt or in savings. Either way, you gain some security when it comes to your financial situation.
Related Post: 39 Ways to Cut Expenses from Your Budget
More energy to pursue your purpose
The weight lifting off of your shoulders from all the things you are letting go of gives you a renewed energy that you can only receive from decluttering. It creates a massive spark that gives you the energy you need to pursue your purpose in a profound way.
When there isn’t any clutter to distract you, it is easier to focus on being present and concentrating on the task at hand.
Having clutter all around you makes you feel like a squirrel wanting to do all of the things without the ability to concentrate fully on one thing.
When you remove that clutter, it is easier to keep focus and be present with what you’re working towards.
Clutter decreases your ability to be creative because of the mental space clutter consumes. When you remove the clutter, you create space for free thinking, which results in being more creative.
Creating more space
Whether you need more physical space within your home or mental clarity, you gain both when you declutter.
I like to call this “white space” because it isn’t something you need to refill. You can simply enjoy the space you’ve created in your life.
What NOT to do when decluttering
Before I share with you my easy decluttering home approach, I want to share with you a few things that you do NOT need to do.
1 // Organizing before decluttering
This is the most common mistake people make when trying to get their homes organized. You cannot organize clutter and have a tidy home. It just doesn’t work that way.
Also, purchasing bins before you declutter is a waste of time and money. You don’t really know what you’ll need until you declutter, so wait to purchase any organizing bins until after you declutter.
I personally waited and found that I had everything I needed. I didn’t spend a dime on organizing bins.
2 // Taking on a bigger project than you can handle
If you’re new to decluttering, start small. Starting with the biggest project can lead to overwhelm and you throwing in the towel before you make progress.
Be considerate of the dedication you have to decluttering.
3 // Thinking you can do it all in one day
Decluttering is a process that takes time. Don’t think it can all be done in one day because that isn’t the case.
Take things one step at a time and focus on completing categories versus pinning yourself into a one-day time frame.
4 // Not completing one task before moving on to the next
Some categories are big and can be difficult to tackle all at one time. However, that doesn’t mean that you should move to a different category.
Stay focused and on track with your progress. Only work through one category at a time.
You’ll finish much quicker and be more efficient when you keep your focus on the task at hand.
5 // Accepting any and all progress you make
Progress is great, but accepting any and all progress is a mistake. You have to set goals and work to get there when decluttering.
For example, you declutter 50 clothing pieces from your closet, and honestly, that feels really good. But if you set a goal to declutter 75 pieces, there is still work to be done.
Yes, you can rejoice in the progress you’ve made thus far, but you still have some work to do. Calling it good enough isn’t worth settling for because you’ll do it in every space of your home.
When that happens, the second time you need to declutter will be much sooner than you anticipated and just as big of a job as the first time. You don’t want either of those.
My Easy Decluttering Home Approach
Start with Setting Goals
What do you want to accomplish with decluttering your home?
Envision each space decluttered
- What does it look like?
- How are things placed in their designated space?
- What isn’t there?
After you envision each space, write out the difference between how things are now and what you want them to be once you finish.
Break things down into categories
The piece I took from Marie Kondo’s book is about using categories to declutter. This gives you a fresh perspective on everything within your home.
Here are a few examples of categories I suggest you use:
Shirts [all sleeve lengths and types]
Bottoms [again, all lengths and types]
Books & Magazines
Food Storage Containers
Kids’ Clothes [Use same categories mentioned above]
Kids’ Shoes & Accessories
You can come up with whatever list you want; just make sure it covers everything in your home.
Now that you have your list of categories start at the top and get ready to work your way down your list. This is the easiest decluttering home approach because it prevents overthinking and encourages action!
I like to put things on my bed or on a rug to see everything clearly, but make sure you take it out of its current home to declutter.
You do not want the influence of available space while you declutter.
Common Decluttering Home Questions
Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you declutter. This helps you identify what you use and love from what is clutter.
- When was the last time I used/wore this item?
- Do I like using or looking at this item?
- Is this item efficient for what I use it for, or do I have something more efficient I could use instead?
- Does this item fit me as I am right now?
- If the item is torn or needs altering, will I fix it within the next two weeks? [If not, let it go.]
If you are still torn about whether or not to keep it, it is most likely a “just in case” item, which doesn’t serve you and can be donated, sold, or tossed.
Create a sorting system
It is easy to declutter when you have a sorting system because things can get messy quickly.
Here are four categories you should have for your sorting system and why:
- KEEP – Of course, anything you want to keep needs a spot.
- TOSS – Anything you don’t want that cannot be sold or donated goes in this pile. You will sort this out again to determine what can and cannot be recycled.
- DONATE – These are items that aren’t worth selling but are still in decent enough condition that you don’t want to toss them.
- SELL – Items that are worth the effort in selling need their own pile so that you don’t accidentally donate or toss them.
For the things you decide to declutter, be sure you get them out of your home ASAP!
How to Declutter by Category
Step One: Gather everything within that category
The first thing you need to do is bring everything within that category to one location.
This needs to be out of its designated space, so your bed or on a rug is a great option.
Step Two: Decided what to keep and what to let go of
Sort through everything and decide what to keep, toss, donate, and sell.
If this is your first time decluttering, it is a good idea to go through your keep pile a second time to ensure you really want to keep everything. You may decide to declutter a few more pieces.
Step Three: What to do with maybe items
There are going to be items you cannot make a decision about the first time you declutter. For these items, I suggest putting them in their own box, putting the box out of sight, and allowing it to be there for 30 days.
If you have not gone into this box for a specific item by the end of 30 days, you can live without it. Don’t worry about sorting through these things; just load them in your vehicle to take to a donation station.
Side note: Research your local organizations before deciding where to donate your items. Not that I believe one place is better than the other, but giving organizations unwanted items is the same as deciding where you want to spend your money.
Some organizations seem like a great option, but have you looked at where their profit goes? If they are non-profit, have you looked at where they contribute to the community?
I personally chose my local homeless shelter after realizing the company I was donating to was in it for the money rather than the community. Not every homeless shelter is created equal, but mine will accept anything and use it to help someone in need. They even accept glass jars that I want to recycle!
What to do when you finish decluttering
If you have worked all the way through your category list, I first want you to do a celebration dance! I mean, let us be honest… YOU ROCK!
Put Keep Items in Their Home
After you finish celebrating your progress, put your keep items in their home. Everything should fit comfortably and be tidy.
Get rid of the clutter
Next, gather everything you have chosen to donate, and get it out of your home! The faster it is gone, the quicker you can have a clutter-free home!
You can also start posting your sell items on whatever medium you choose. Some options include Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Poshmark, and the possibility of hosting your own garage sale, depending on how much you have to sell.
Related Post: My Tips and Tricks to a Successful Garage Sale
For things you are tossing, be sure to do so responsibly. Recycle the things that can be recycled and toss what cannot be.
Easiest decluttering home approach accomplished! What is next?
Now that you’ve accomplished my easiest decluttering home approach and your home is clutter-free, you will have more time for the things that truly matter in your life.
You may decide to develop a new hobby, start a new career, make more time for your family, or whatever you decide that makes you happy.
Be open to ideas that pop up in your mind and be curious about the possibilities they present.
How to Declutter Your Home for Good. Advice to Live By
Decluttering is not a one-and-done situation. It is something you’ll need to do consistently to keep your home clutter-free.
Using the following tips after your initial decluttering will help keep your home clutter-free:
Tip 1 // Don’t allow potential clutter into your home to begin with
When you are conscious about the things entering your home, you can reduce what you bring into your home.
Say ‘no thank you’ to random flyers. Instead, take a photo of the flyer or business card to review later.
Tip 2 // Declutter a little each day
Come across something in your home you no longer need or want. Put it in a donation box that is by the door. This keeps your home clutter-free and getting things out of the house that much easier.
You can also set a goal to declutter so many things a day until you feel confident that you only have things you need and love in your home.
Tip 3 // Use the One In, One Out Rule
Having a constant flow of things coming in and out of your home keeps the clutter to a minimum. This rule allows you to think of what you will declutter if you want to bring something new into your home.
For example, you find a new shirt that you just have to have! To bring it into your home, you need to know exactly which shirt will be leaving your home as a result.
If you cannot decide on what shirt to declutter, then this new shirt isn’t worth the investment.
Tip 4 // Keep track of when you last used that item
If you’re debating on the items you choose to keep due to not knowing if you really need them or not, make note of when you use them.
After a few months, look through your list of what you used when and declutter the things that aren’t on the list. If you used something one time, consider decluttering it and using something else that can do the same job.
For example, I used to have an apple slicer gadget. I used it once or twice. It was mostly used to take up space.
When I realized this, I decided that a regular knife could do the same job, and I could free up space in my drawer for things I used more frequently.
Tip 5 // Sleep on it
Our brains are very good at problem-solving. If you’re debating something, let your mind do the work for you while you’re sleeping.
When you wake up in the morning, you may have to finish the thought of whether to declutter that item or not, but you’ll have your answer quicker than if you mull it over all day long.
Tip 6 // Keep flat surfaces clear
The less you keep on countertops, tables, nightstands, etc., the easier it is to stay clutter-free. When using my decluttering home approach, keep the focus on clear surfaces and see how different your space feels.
Tip 7 // Take before and after photos
This is motivating to keep going with the decluttering process. It allows you to see the change without the mess you created to get there.
It gives you a clear perspective on the things you’re able to accomplish.
Tip 8 // Owning less will not make your home look empty or boring
This is an important piece of advice that I hope you take in wholeheartedly.
Decluttering your home down to the things you love and use creates an overwhelming feeling of “this is home” compared to all the things you had in it before decluttering.
Tip 9 // When you should declutter again
I’ve already said decluttering is something you’ll do again and again. How often you do it is important to ensure you never have to do a massive decluttering again.
Most things need to be decluttered quarterly or as the seasons change. This includes clothes, bath products, makeup, food, etc.
You want to clear out anything expired or that is seasonal that you no longer wear. Doing this every three months will ensure everything stays fresh and is used.
Things like kitchen goods [pots, pans, appliances], seasonal decor, linens, etc. need to be decluttered yearly. These are things that don’t wear out as often or are more of a staple in your home.
Making sure you go through these things once a year will help you not forget about something you have and ensure you don’t have any excess.
Final Thoughts About Decluttering Your Home
Now that you know all about decluttering your home and life, take this actionable advice and put it to work!
I cannot wait to hear how having a clutter-free home improves your life. I’m confident that you can do it and will enjoy only having things in your home that you love or find useful!