We spend thousands of dollars every year on our homes to make them beautiful and functional. While having the right decor and tools can add style and utility, you should declutter your home, instead. There are numerous decorating techniques that I’ve tried to create a pleasing and comfortable environment, but decluttering is the most satisfying way that I’ve found. This is my tutorial on how you can make your home into the best that it can be with some simple decluttering tips, routines, and steps.
What You Should Do Before You Start Decluttering
When you decide that it’s time to declutter your home, there are few things that you can do to prepare so that the decluttering process is as simple as possible.
Decide Where Items Should Go
One of the first things that you should do is know exactly where you’ll put everything. For larger rooms, you can make a diagram that neatly labels where everything will go. For instance, if you’re cleaning the garage, draw out where you’ll install the work bench, peg board, bike rack, and storage shelves.
Plan a Diagram for Complex Spaces
When you’re drawing your diagram, measure how much space you have for each storage system. This way, you’ll be able to move everything around on paper rather than physically moving things. You’ll also know how big a storage system should be if you have to buy something.
For instance, say that you are organizing one of your bathrooms. You’ll need to decide where are all of the bath towels, extra toilet paper, hair supplies, and anything else that you use on a regular basis needs a home. When you’re planning this out, you should determine which items you use most frequently and how much space each item will take up. For instance, if you only like to blow dry your hair on occasion, you might decide that your blow-dryer belongs in a drawer, but on iron that you use more frequently, you might decide belongs in a drawer that’s eye height.
Choose Organization and Labeling Tools
You should also decide what organization tools you already have and which ones are actually functional for what you want to accomplish. For instance, when you’re organizing your clothes closet, you might realize that there’s a better closet organization system that will make your life easier.
You could also decide that labeling certain items is useful. For instance, if you are organizing your bathroom and have a lot of makeup, there are a few ways that you can organize things so it’s easy to find the exact shade of lipstick or eye shadow that you want every time.
For tubes of lipstick, one of the best techniques is to put a small dot of the lipstick on the top of the tube and place a clear piece of tape over the top of the dot. Then, you can organize each tube standing upright so that you can easily see every color that you’re looking for. Plus, when you have the right organizational bin, you’ll know where to put every tube of lipstick back every time that you use that.
Get Sorting Supplies
When you’re sorting through a lot of items, you’ll need places to what them so that throwing them away, selling them, or donating them is simple. Usually, a box of trash bags is sufficient because you need to away a lot of items. Trash bags are also useful when you want to donate a lot of clothes. For larger or heavier items, you might need some boxes so that transporting things is easier.
Make a Calendar
When you want to create any kind of routine, one of the first things you need to do is make a calendar. On this calendar, you need to map out exactly what you need to accomplish each week, each month, and throughout the entire year. A year is a good time frame because it’s a long enough stretch of time that you can do a lot in 15 or 20 minutes a day.
This is especially a great option for people with busy schedules because you can fit a small job in at random times throughout each month. For instance, say you have a load of items that you want to donate. You can plan on a trip to Goodwill or any other donation center right before you do your grocery shopping, but you don’t have to block off a large chunk of time.
Here are some of the best steps that you should incorporate into your calendar.
Make a List of Areas
When you’re making your calendar, one of the first things that you should do is make a list of every area in your home that needs decluttering. This includes small areas, such as closets, but it also includes big areas, such as garages.
When you’re making your list, one of the first things that you should think about is how long you think that it will take for you to do a particular project. For instance, you can be pretty certain that you can clean out your coat closet in an afternoon, but you might prefer to tackle the garage over an entire month or even a couple of months.
One strategy that you can use to break up the tasks into smaller chunks is to estimate how long you think that each area will take. Then, you can divvy up the amount of time that you’re estimating over many days of the entire month. For instance, if you want to devote an entire month to cleaning out your garage, take the number of hours in a day through throughout Saturday and Sunday and break each task into smaller tasks.
There might be some days throughout the month that you only have time for a small project. For instance, on a Wednesday evening, you might have to bring your children to dance class after you get done with work. Then, you might need to make dinner and make sure that your children have their homework done. You might only have time for a 45-minute project. That’s when you should decide to do those small areas, such as the linen closet.
Three Places That Every Item Should Go
When you’re decluttering, you want to make sure that you’re doing something more productive than simply moving junk around. You need to do one of three things with every piece of item that you touch. You can throw it away, donate, or sell.
How To Decide Which Items Go in Which Categories
When you’re trying to decide whether or not you should keep an item, there are a few questions that you should ask yourself. First of all, ask yourself whether or not you have multiples of this particular item. Secondly, ask yourself if you have any use for an item. Thirdly, ask yourself if the item in question is in operating condition. and finally, question whether or not the item in question gives you any particular joy. If the answer is no to any of these questions, you should decide whether you should donate, sell, or throw away.
A Calendar Plan to Declutter Your Home
While you might choose to add, subtract, or move certain tasks on this list, this is one way that you could divvy up the items to do over the course of a year.
Clean out bathrooms, including linen closets and all bath-related products.
February: Master Bedroom
Clean out master bedroom, including closets, dresser drawers, all surfaces, and underneath the bed.
March: Home Office
Declutter the home office. Go through filing cabinets to make sure that everything is filed correctly, and get rid of papers that are so old that you no longer need them. This is also a good time to go through the files on your computer and organize anything that you have stored in alternative storage areas, such as thumb drives and cloud storage.
April and May: Garage
Clean and declutter the entirety of the garage. Make an inventory of every place within the garage that needs decluttering. One strategy is to break the back wall and each of the sidewalls into thirds to make the job more manageable. Each third of the garage gets its own weekend. There are usually nine weekends when you add up all of the weekends in April and May, so this will usually work out well. For a job like the garage, you need to be particularly organized and have a solid plan in place before you start so that your weekends are optimally productive.
June: Children’s Bedrooms
Declutter the kids’ bedrooms. You’ll want to enlist your children to help them decide which items they want to keep and which ones they’re ready to part with. Go through all closets, underneath beds, dresser drawers, toy bins, and all surfaces.
Go through all of your pots and pans, kitchen gadgets, cleaning supplies, and everything else that you have in every drawer and cabinet. You should also take a few hours to clean out the refrigerator and get rid of any food that’s expired or going to expire.
August: Cleaning and Linen Closets
Go through all of the cleaning supplies, linens, and medicinal supplies in all of the closets. You can also add any coat closets and other small storage areas that are in communal areas.
September and October: Attic or Basement
If you have an attic or basement that you regularly use for storage, September and October are usually better months to do these types of projects because both months are usually cool enough to work in the attic but not so cold that you’ll be uncomfortable. The amount of time that it will take to clean out these areas will depend on the amount of things that you have in each space and how cluttered the spaces are.
November: Attic or Basement If Needed
Depending on whether you have an attic and a basement, you might need to use November to continue to declutter your home in these areas.
December: Living Room, Family Room, and Miscellaneous Rooms
Some rooms, such as the living room, will likely take less time because there are fewer small items to sort through. You might be able to declutter a couple of these types of rooms in a single month.
How to Keep the Clutter Down
Sometimes, we set out with the best of intentions when organizing spaces. But our fast intentions can go awry when we’re not aware of the ways of thinking the way that certain ways of thinking can hold us back. These are a few decluttering tips to avoid common pitfalls that clutter bugs fall into.
Decide What to Eliminate
If you’re trying to decide if you should donate, sell, or throw away a certain item, there are a few questions you should ask yourself. If the item in question is not in operating condition and it would cost more to fix than it would then what it’s worth, you should consider throwing it away. Otherwise, it’s best in the recycling bin. Now, there are some things that maybe someone else could fix. Or, you might be able to reuse certain items. For instance, you should recycle your old cell phones because they have valuable materials that cell phone manufacturers can reuse.
Also, there are some items that you might decide are valuable enough that you want to sell them. For instance, if you have a treadmill or rowing machine that you no longer used but is still in perfect condition, you might not want to donate that item. Instead, you might put it up on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or another similar site.
There are some items that don’t have a lot of value as individual pieces. For instance, if you have a lot of tank tops, each individual tank top isn’t worth a lot. Bundle them as a group and put them on Facebook Marketplace. Otherwise, you might decide that you want to have a garage sale.
If neither of those options are particularly appealing to you, if all of your tank tops, shoes, or other items that aren’t going to bring in a large amount of money but are in good condition, you might decide to donate them to a Goodwill or give them to a friend. Giving certain items away can actually make someone else’s life a lot better. For instance, if you have a lot of clothing that your child grew out of, see if you know of anyone else who has a child that would fit into it.
Keep the Storage Unit Organized
Don’t just throw things in storage units. It’s tempting to think that you will use something later, but putting things in storage units can backfire if you’re not really going to use them in a reasonable time frame. For instance, you might have a side table that’s still in beautiful condition, but if you just replaced your furniture, it’s unlikely that you’ll use that side table again in the near future.
You should only keep things that you’ll keep for at least a full year. For instance, you might need one storage unit to house seasonal decorations, such as Christmas garland and ornaments. If you’re thinking that you won’t use something or that you want to give a lot of items to someone five years down the road, think about whether or not you really want it taking up space in your storage unit.
Remember That Not Everything Has Sentimental Value
Thinking that everything has sentimental value: when you’re going through things that you haven’t seen in a really long time, it’s common for a lot of people to feel a sentimental attachment to items because they bring back memories. But if you haven’t thought about that item it’s you put it away, are you really going to miss it if you get rid of it? Your life has changed since you put that item away, and if you haven’t missed it in five years, you won’t miss it if you get rid of it.
One decluttering tip to avoid this hoarding pitfall is to keep one or two items that have particular sentimental value from each storage closet that you clean out. Other than that, you need to get rid of everything you don’t get to keep anything else that you feel has sentimental value.
Have a Place for Everything
When you want to ensure that you’re not hoarding things, one of the best decluttering tips is to make sure that you have a place for every item, and you should put it in its exact place every time. That’s one of the reasons that labeling is such a popular technique.
Schedule Mini-Decluttering Sessions
Once you have everything where it should be, you need to make sure that you don’t have to worry about the clutter creeping up on you again. The easiest way to ensure that you have everything that you need to maintain your newly decluttered home, make sure that you go through rooms and drawers on a regular basis. For instance, if you have one drawer in the kitchen where you keep all of the scissors, glue, tape, and other household items, go through at least once every six months so that you cut down on the clutter.
Buy from a List
If you’ve ever bought a household cleaner just because you couldn’t remember whether or not you were out, you should acquaint yourself with the idea of having a shopping list. This will cut down on the number of duplicates that you have of a single item.
When you declutter your home over a long period of time, you have a few key advantages over doing it over a short period of time, such as a week. First of all, you’ll be able to take your time, so the job isn’t as overwhelming. And when you use these decluttering tips that I’ve laid out, you’ll feel like you made a little bit of progress each week, which will encourage you to continue with it. So begin with these decluttering tips for a more beautiful and functional home.