You have made the decision to remove some clutter from your life. You are ready!
For your first decluttering session, you should pick an area that you use frequently. Don’t focus on an entire room, break it down into manageable projects. For example, if you want to start in your bedroom; your dresser, the closet, and under your bed, would each be a project. The object is to completely finish one project before starting another so you don’t create a big mess and overwhelm yourself.
While explaining the steps of a decluttering session I’m going to use the example of a bedroom closet since it is one of the most common starting places.
Before you start doing anything, think about what you would consider the purpose of the room or area you selected.
For me, my closet is a place for me to store all of my clothes and shoes. (The only exceptions are my coats, hats, and gloves which are in my hall closet.) The top shelf in my closet also has a bin that holds my extra set of sheets for my bed as well as a bin with my snow pants, snow gloves, and scarf. Next to that, I keep my snow boots and my camera and video camera.
- Remove all of the items from the area you are decluttering and put them all together.
- Make sure you have a clear area to see and sort your stuff. In the bedroom, I always use my bed (which is made and clear of any other items). In other areas of the house you could use a kitchen table, the floor, or even bring in a holding table if needed.
- Sort your items into like piles (remove obvious trash immediately and put it in the labeled trash bag).
- Clean the empty area. Wipe down shelves with a damp cloth and vacuum or sweep out the floor. Take a second to enjoy the clean, empty space!
- Focus on one pile at a time. Pick up one item from the pile at a time and ask yourself some questions. If you answer no to any of the questions the item goes to the relocate, trash, recycle, or donate box.
- Does this item fit the purpose of the area you are working on?
- Is the item free of stains or broken parts?
- Do you wear this/use it frequently?
- Does it fit your current style? Do you like it? Does it make you happy?
- Once you inspect the entire pile take a look at the number of items you have left. Ask yourself if that is an appropriate amount of that item. If it feels excessive add your least favorites to the donate pile. There is no perfect amount. Only keep what makes sense for you.
- Complete step 4 and 5 for each pile.
- Return all the items you are keeping back to their space in an orderly way. (See diagram below to show how I organize my closet)
- If your donate, recycle, trash, and relocate boxes are full, take care of them before starting on another project.
What did you learn in your decluttering session? What project did you decide to do first? Did your session motivate you to start on another space?
Check back next week for tips on stopping clutter before it starts!