A cluttered home isn’t the same thing as a messy home. When you clean a messy home it is clean. But if you clean a cluttered home it somehow still doesn’t feel clean. You know the junk is still close by, ready to burst out from that storage cupboard straining on its hinges.
Decluttering your home can seem a daunting task, even more so than cleaning because it’s going to require decision-making. What to keep and what to lose?
That’s why you need a plan. You need a process.
You need a step-by-step guide
Step 1 – Survey the work ahead and set a goal
What do you want to achieve? Would you like the whole house to be decluttered or are there just a few problem areas? Knowing how much work is ahead of you is a good place to start.
Step 2 – Have a plan forward
If you want to declutter your whole home you probably won’t be able to do it all at once. Perhaps you can tackle a room a day. Or even a room a week if it is that bad. Alternatively, you can work in shifts, such as setting aside two hours a day, and see how far you get at a time.
Even if you’re willing to do everything all at once, it still makes the task seem more manageable to divide it into parts.
Step 3 – Begin with what you can throw away
Now you start, armed with your big black bags. Throw away everything you have no need for, like old documents or broken parts of appliances that will never be fixed.
This and the next few steps can actually be done simultaneously, but it’s useful thinking of them as separate steps.
Step 4 – It’s not rubbish, but it can’t stay either
You will come across some things you won’t want to keep, but it isn’t rubbish either. This could be items that should be recycled, sold, given to charity or returned to their original owner. It could also be duplicates. For instance, you probably don’t need two sets of lounge suites. If you have a newer set then you should get rid of the old set.
Set this pile aside for now.
Step 5 – Have a maybe pile
What if it was a gift from someone? Perhaps it has sentimental value even though it doesn’t work anymore, or it could be given new life with a new coat of paint. Some things are hard to let go of. Set this aside in another pile to tackle later.
Step 6 – Sort what stays
Everything that stays should go into its proper place. What was simply misplaced? What needs to go into a box and forgotten about in the basement until you have grandkids? A good tip is to also allow yourself a designated area where miscellaneous clutter can go so you can keep an eye on it.
Step 7 – Sort the piles
By now you should have at least two piles. Things you want to get rid of but not throw away and a maybe pile. Sort the first pile in whatever way is suitable: take old books to the book exchange, return your neighbour’s tools and give away the old clothes.
The maybe pile is a bit trickier. You might need a second opinion to help make up your mind. Depending on how much of a packrat you are, this is where you need to stay firm. What do you really need to keep?
Congratulations, once you have sorted your piles you should be done decluttering your home. What seemed intimidating at first is actually not that bad if you go about it in a structured manner. From here on, just don’t let the clutter pile up again for years and years before you declutter again. A little maintenance goes a long way.