Decluttering is wonderful, but sometimes you get overwhelmed, take a break, and end up accumulating more clutter before you can get back to the original clutter.
Your cleaning effort suddenly dies of frustration, and the situation is no better than before. Possibly worse, since cleaning involves making new stacks of clutter in an attempt to reorganize the whole mess.
This simple system will make decluttering so much easier. It works because you tackle one step at a time instead of picking random things, getting halfway done, and then getting distracted by another mess.
And because it’s step by step, if you do get interrupted in the middle of it, at least you won’t have more of a mess than when you started.
5 East Steps to Decluttering
This system works very well and brings order to the process. In the future, you can also help yourself out by not bringing clutter home in the first place.
Step 1. Dust as you go along
This step actually happens throughout the process. It’s when you’re moving things around that you have the opportunity to give surfaces a really good dusting.
So when you clean off a surface to straighten and tidy it, go ahead and give it a quick dusting. This is one of the best parts of decluttering – that nice, fresh scent you get in a room that’s not full of dust.
Step 2. Start with closets, drawers, and storage
It sounds counter-intuitive, but if the very places where stuff does belong are overflowing, you can’t put anything away. Take things out of the closets and drawers, clean around them, and then put things back in an organized way.
You may want to look at better ways to store shoes in small closets or organizing your clothes by color. And if you’re working in the bathroom, this is a good time to look at organizing your bathroom closet.
If some of the stuff doesn’t belong in these spaces (you know, the stuff we all shove in there when company’s coming), take it out and put it aside. You’ll be dealing with it in Step 4.
If you get interrupted at this point in your tidying process, you can skip to Step 4 to deal with the junk that came out of your closets and storage spaces.
Step 3. Clean one part of a room at a time
Don’t think about the whole room. Just clean up the dining room table today, the end tables tomorrow, etc.
Start by removing everything from surfaces and dusting the surface. Then start putting back only the things that belong there.
Put the stuff that’s left over where it belongs. If you don’t know where it belongs, try to think of a place. This will be so much easier because now you have closets and drawers to put most of the stuff in.
If you have things that don’t seem to belong anywhere, don’t worry. You’re going to get to those in Step 4. For now, repeat this step until everything’s tidy – except that stuff that doesn’t have a home.
Step 4. Find a home for the stuff that doesn’t go anywhere
If you’re going to own a thing, it has to have someplace to live. There has to be somewhere in your home that it belongs, or else you need to think twice about keeping it. Or you may need some better storage options.
First, remember the six-month rule: if you haven’t used it in six months, throw it away. Or give it away, or donate it to charity, or have a yard sale.
This makes things so much easier. Look at the stuff that’s left over. It’s a much smaller pile now, isn’t it?
Start deciding where everything belongs. You hopefully have some semi-empty drawers, storage and closet space now to put things away.
But if you have a small home or a lot of stuff, maybe those are already full. In that case, you may need to buy an under the bed organizer box. Or some sturdy storage boxes, which are great for garages, attics, craft rooms and workshops. A label maker can be great for marking what’s in these boxes.
Bookshelves are a good option for storing things that can look nice and orderly. A shelf squeezed into a hallway near a bathroom can be filled with towels and sheets if you don’t have a linen closet.
Storage shelving units – usually not as pretty as bookshelves – are great for garages, attics, pantries, etc. Anywhere company isn’t likely to be. They can also fit in with kids’ rooms, especially when they’re full of orderly boxes of toys.
Step 5. Vacuum/clean the floors
At this point, you’re basically done. But you may find your floors now have little bits of debris and dust bunnies on the floor from pulling things out of drawers and closets where they’ve been sitting for ages.
You want to clean floors at the end, after you’re done making a mess. If the floor has a lot of pet hair or people hair or debris that might ruin your vacuum cleaner, you’ll need to use a broom or a carpet sweeper to get the bulk of that up before starting with the vacuum.
Look At Your Tidy Home
The beauty of this system is that it breaks down the process so it’s not so overwhelming. Eventually, even if you can only work half an hour a week, or even less, you get it done.
You may spend months on Step 2 and 3 if you don’t have a full day to devote to decluttering. And that’s okay. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
In the end, you’ll have the tidy, orderly home that looks and feels comfortable and inviting. You’ll know where things are. You’ll have an easier time dusting and vacuuming. And that’s what it’s all about.