If you really truly want to declutter your home and live lighter, this decluttering method should help.
It’s a quick, goal-oriented method that skips over all the annoying tasks normally associated with a big household purge. It’s not very everyone but it sure works!
For a helpful overview, also see Decluttering 101: How to Let It Go and Get On With It.
Are you a clutter defender?
Some people say they want to declutter but the moment it’s time to take action, they aggressively start defending their stuff and their choices.
If that’s you, this is not for you! Your choices—your life! I have no problem with that. The ideas here are for those who really want to get their homes in order and create truly pleasing, livable spaces with less stuff stressing you out. And sometimes clutter and disorder are just what’s standing in the way.
You do not need to buy stuff to sort stuff
A number of years ago decluttering became big business. And there was a big catch. Instead of truly providing the tools to reduce our hoards of stuff and get our homes in order, we seemed to be deluged with all sorts of organizing products and gurus.
An entire shopping culture emerged, selling us colour-coded folders, shelves, bins, and filing systems.
But what is that really doing?
Not decluttering, that’s for sure. To me it rearranges deck chairs on the Titanic.
Without a real reduction in the volume of stuff crammed into our homes, there is no resolution of the problem.
And without the real work taking place first, all those fun gizmos and gadgets are simply distractions.
But I might need that
Another major cause of clutter is emotions.
What if I need this later? I paid good money for that! But that’s my child’s first shoe/art/sleeper/you name it. Those were my mother’s dishes. Those are collector items…
Yes, I get it. And there’s no reason why you can’t keep some treasures and display them nicely.
But there’s a point where enough is enough.
Either you want to sort this out or you don’t.
If a quick purge sounds too scary, you might find Peter Walsh books very helpful. You can also see his videos here. He has lots of good advice for weeding through the sentimental treasures and finding a balance between keeping (and caring for) some while letting go of the rest.
And you want to let it go, right?
Get it together without the emotional drain
The decluttering method I’m sharing here is a favourite I have used for years both at home and workplaces.
I’m presenting it in 5 easy steps and it’s obviously a rather simplified road map for what may take some quite a bit of time to achieve, depending on just how much stuff you’ve got and how disorganized it is.
If you’ve got important legal documents lost in piles of junk mail and other riff-raff, obviously you’re going to have to locate these papers before recycling the rest.
But, if you’re fairly low-grade on the hoarding and mess scale, it will be a lot faster.
The advantage here is that we’re focussing on the end goal, making it much easier to get sorted rather than labouring over unimportant details.
I should also point out that this method is also easiest if you have room to work. But, even if your space is really limited, you can still get it done, if you want to.
So, no excuses. If you want this, you’ll do this.
See how I got you all excited with that tough love?
Declutter a Room in 5 Easy Steps
The key is to work on just one room at a time and only use what you have.
The goal is turn each room into your ideal space.
To begin, list your rooms in order of priority. Which one would you most love to have in order? That’s the one to start with.
Step One: Empty the room
Without too much fussing, place the items from the room into these main categories:
- Trash and Recycle
- Donate or Sell
Separate must-haves including legal documents from nice-to-have but not vital.
Step Two: Purpose and preparation
- Determine the purpose of this room.
Family room? Crafts? Work from home? Sleep? Guest room? Lounge?
- Determine the furniture arrangement for the room.
Do not include anything in your plan that does not fit the purpose of the room.
No shopping allowed! Use only what you already own.
- Do any cleaning, repairs, and painting needed before the next step.
Step Three: Furnish the room
- Start with the largest items (sofa, bed, dresser, shelves…) and arrange the room.
Every item must fit the space, support the purpose, and be pleasing (not out of obligation).
Remember, you can “shop” for items in other rooms.
Everything must have a place.
If you’re into keepsakes, add just what fits. Nothing more.
You’re done when the room has just what it needs, looks tidy, is easy to clean, and inviting.
Step Four: Repeat for the next room
- Work through the remaining rooms in your home, one at a time.
- Remove everything, sorting by trash/recycle, donate or sell, and items to keep.
- Always determine the purpose(s) of each room first, then furnish accordingly.
Step Five: Let the rest go
- Put out the trash and recycling.
- Donate or sell unwanted stuff.
If selling is a big, draining process, cut your losses and just donate it or commission the sale.
- Keep vital documents in a safe place.
- Give a few treasured keepsakes a place of honour. Let the rest go.
- Have just what you need.
Deep breath. Awwwwww.
Want to Declutter by Categories Instead of Room-by-Room?
These two books by Marie Kondo (“KonMari”), The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy, share a logical, patient but on a deadline approach to getting our homes in order, category by category, until the entire sorting, tidying, and purge is complete.
This article on the KonMari method provides excellent examples to see how it works.
Examples of Decluttering
If clutter is ruining your life, I hope you will find a tidying up method that works for you. It’s a hard job, but well worth it.