Updated: January 2, 2023
Is Your Home Messy Right Now?
Be honest! If you’re like most of us, we are NOT visitor ready. i.e. We secretly hope that friends don’t ring the doorbell without notice. And if they call us that they are on their way over, we madly run around the main floor scurrying up clutter stuffing it away in a spare room, closing the door behind us just as the doorbell rings. It doesn’t have to be that way. There is a better solution to keep your home visitor ready!
Let’s be brutally honest here. Most of us (except for my brother & sister-in-law, lol) don’t like going through our stuff. Our clutter. We would much rather be going out with friends, hanging with our kids, working, or anything else for that matter than going through our clutter. Yes there are those that like a clutter-free house, and its actually less stressful, than seeing a pile of clutter here and there that should be removed from our home. There’s a reason why we got here in the first place, but if we follow these 10 steps to remove the clutter and to KEEP IT THAT WAY, we won’t need to be doing this again.
3 Stages to Decluttering Your Home
There is 3 stages to decluttering your home & most importantly, to staying decluttered.
One of the biggest challenges people have decluttering is they just. feel. overwhelmed. You can just feel overwhelmed. You have let the clutter add up thinking you will get to it one day and one day keeps getting pushed back. So you have all this clutter, its absolutely overwhelming, so where do you start?
1. Make a date with your clutter.
It helps to pick a day & time to start. Otherwise, it does not get done if left to chance. Start with 10 – 15 minutes or an area like a drawer – whatever works for you. JUST START !
The biggest challenge most of us have with decluttering our home is we feel so overwhelmed because we don’t know where to start. We’ve let it get out of hand and it seems like there’s a pile of clutter everywhere we go. You just need to start. Pick a 30 minute goal or even just 15 minutes while you’re listening to your favorite upbeat tunes. You just need to start!
2. Pick a target or goal.
Start with ONE area i.e. closet, drawer, pantry, desk, night stand, coffee table, a kitchen counter etc. Some people pick the area that is bugging them the most. If that is too overwhelming, pick a simple area and work your way up. Go through one room at a time or one task at a time like closets for example.
When I was going through my self made declutter challenge, when amalgamating two homes together, there was so much stuff it was hard to move around. I picked going through the closets first because when you can find your clothes etc. quickly in the morning, its less stressful as opposed to running around trying to find everything.
What area in your home is causing you the most stress right now?
How do you declutter your home when you are overwhelmed?
1.Do the easiest items on your list first if that’s what it takes to get started!
2. What area in your home is causing you the most stress right now? Tackle that one first!
3. Break your large space into bite-sized pieces. Instead of tackling a whole room, tackle the desk area, a closet or what’s on the floor etc.
4. Visualize. Visualize. Visualize. Get a clear picture, either in your head or perhaps better, a picture from Pinterest, of what you want your space or room to look like. This will help motivate you.
5. Keep following one or more of the above strategies until you’re done.
3. Make it fun.
Athletes always listen to upbeat music before they start a race. Why not put your favorite upbeat music on while you declutter or your favorite TV show? If you’re going through a sock drawer for example, you can certainly sort socks while listening to music or watching a TV show.
Event a family member or friend to help you. This is the time to call in some of those favors.
4. Group like things together.
Group all your like items together. This way you can find out if you have 8 serving platters, 5 of which you never use because you forgot you had them or 10 pairs of black shoes when you only wear 3. It gives you a chance to really look objectively at what you have, what you use, and what you can get rid of.
- Dishes, pots & pans – all your dishes, pot & pans, utensils etc
- Clothes – all your pants, blouses, sweaters etc. – sort them by type & color
- Pantry – all like food together, cans, pastas, cereals etc.
- Bathroom toiletries – sort by product. Throw out out-of-date items.
- Linens – towels, sheets, duvets etc
- Toys – sort by type – get your kids to help!
- Pencils, file folders, office supplies etc.
5. Get 3 bins: keep, donate, throw out!
This is the time when you need to make those tough decisions with yourself. If you haven’t used an item in a year, you need to ask yourself to really need it. Why are you keeping it? This is where a bit of soul searching may come into play if you find yourself keeping way more items than you need. When I’m staging people’s houses, I quite often hear from people that there are keeping something because it was gifted to them. There comes to a point where there is no sense in hanging onto an item that you were gifted if you don’t like it or has no use. Donate or give it to someone who will enjoy it.
Some professional organizers say that you should get rid of items that you haven’t used for 3 months. This might be a bit aggressive for some. Some use the figure of 6 months. That seems to be a reasonable figure.
Only own what you love or use. If an item is not beautiful or functional, it serves no purpose and should not be taking up space in your home.
#2 Donate | Sell It!
Get rid of the stuff you don’t absolutely love or use. If you haven’t used an item, or worn a piece of clothing in 6 months but is still in good condition, donate it or sell it. Just because someone gave you something, doesn’t mean you need to keep it! Someone else would be happy to have it!
#3 Throw It Out! or Recycle It!
BE RUTHLESS. If an item is broken or missing a part, and it has been like that for 6 months or more, throw it out or donate it. Chances are, it will be like that for another 6 months or a year year if you keep it.
Throw out dated, obsolete, broken & unused items. Throw out anything past the expiry date, is broken or won’t work. DON’T over think it! Just do it!
Trash/recycle items that are past the expiry date, broken or won’t work. Be ruthless. Get rid of the stuff you don’t absolutely love or use. Just because someone gave you something, doesn’t mean you need to keep it.
Once you have picked a closet, room, or a particular area to sort out, using 3 bins, sort out “your stuff” in 3 piles. 1. Keep. #2. Donate or Sell it! 3. Throw it Out or Recycle!
If you’re having difficulty getting rid of stuff, consider asking a kind but honest friend or family member to help you get started.
Organize! Organize! Organize!
Visualizing your end goal will help you get and stay motivated to get yourself to the end goal. A decluttered space that you will use and enjoy.
Get pictures from Instagram or Pinterest to help you visualize what you want the room to look like when you’re done. This will not only help you get to your end goal, it will also help you decide what should stay and what should go! Motivate yourself and stick up your favorite inspirational piece so you can see it daily.
Its hard to believe that this kids games room above is the same picture as the pink office, but it is. It helps to visualize how you want to use the space to get through overwhelming cluttered areas in your home.
Visualizing how you want your space or your room to look like at the end, will help motivate you to keep on going, help you decide what should stay and what should go, and will help you decide what accessories or furniture you may need to make your space more functional & also a space you will enjoy!
7. Develop storage strategies
One big reason we procrastinate in decluttering our spaces, is because we don’t have the space readily available to put our items away. So items will just sit piled up in chair, on the floor, or crammed into an overcrowded closet that we cannot easily access.
Developing storage strategies is key in making this declutter process work. If you don’t have storage strategies, all the decluttering you have done will be for not. Your room will eventually go back to the way it was before you started.
Having storage strategies is the key in making your space clutter free. If you don’t have storage strategies, sadly your decluttered room or space will eventually go back to the way it was.
Everything in your home should have a spot!
Buy bins, boxes etc to organize your sorted stuff. Dollar stores have some really cute bins.
Don’t leave items on the floor! If it can’t fit in your closet, desk etc., you may need to relook at what you’re keeping. You might have too much for the size of your space.
Put items in places where they logically belong. Eg Keep hats, mittens etc in a bin by your front closet. Have a basket for shoes too. Put your pots & pans near the stove etc.
Keep seasonal items like clothes or holiday decorations & plates etc downstairs or in storage if you don’t need them for months at a time.
Style It! Make it so pretty you don’t want to clutter again!
In every house there seems to a drop zone where you’re rushing into the house with a armful of stuff, or if someone rings the doorbell, you quickly declutter the living room and put it into a clutter zone that gets left there for days or even weeks.
8. Identify & eliminate “clutter zones”
Clutter zones are going to be different in every household but they typically include: entryways, kitchen countertops, dressers, an office, empty chairs like in a bedroom or the front door, or the spare bedroom. If you can identify these clutter zones, its half the battle in realizing that these are problem areas. You can then come up with storage solutions or styling ideas to keep these areas clutter zones clutter free.
9. Style your new space.
The more you love your new space, the more apt you are to keep it that way. You have now identified your “clutter zones.” How can you style your clutter zone to keep it pretty and from going back to how it was? Can you bring in a new cozy chair? Pillows to style? What about a new desk with extra storage if your office is a drop zone for the clutter. Get creative. Think outside the box.
Need some inspiration and ideas? Book a 1 hour zoom call with me where we will brainstorm ideas. Or hire me to help you with a room makeover. Click here to see my online e-design consults.
10. Keep it that way.
- Treat everything you bring into your home like groceries. You put your groceries right away. Do that with everything else you bring in.
- Make a rule with yourself for that everyone 1 item that you bring into the home, you need to take something else.
- Every time you leave a room, take something to throw out or to take with you to put away in the where you are going. Get in the habit of picking up and doing something with items that don’t belong in the room where they are in right away.
- Have your garbage bin, recycling bin, compost bin, and
- donation bin in an area where it is easy to access (but not on display). If they tucked away and hard to reach, you will think twice about decluttering.
- Shed your closets seasonally. Go through them at the end of the season to be ready for the following year. Make a note of items/clothes that you need to get for the following season.
Do you need decorating, styling, staging or color consult guidance?
Do you find picking out colors, rearranging furniture or choosing furniture & accessories for your space overwhelming? I can help you with that. Check out my online color & design consults
I help busy homeowners, just like you, to style their house to make it a stunning retreat, where they can live and enjoy their home. I help homeowners, make money beyond their wildest expectations from the sale of their house by guiding them when they’re getting their house ready to sell.
Hi! I’m Debi Collinson. Interior Design Consultant. Color Consultant & Real Estate Investor. It all started back in 2006 where I nervously staged my very first home. But the sellers liked their newly styled home so much that they turned down an offer for full asking price. I went back to design school and the rest is history.
In my spare time, LOL, I buy “fixer uppers” to fix up & either sell for a healthy profit or to rent. I’m currently looking for my 10th “fixer upper.” Sign up to receive my e-mails of how to make your home stunning, how to sell your house for top dollar AND how to become financially independent one fixer upper at a time! Read my full story + my design credentials here.