Struggling to declutter? You are NOT alone! If you’ve ever found yourself staring at a big pile of stuff being completely overwhelmed, not knowing where to start and lacking the motivation to sort it out, just know that you are not alone. Some of us have been there at some point or other, more often than we will probably admit. Decluttering is HARD work, but with a few tips and guidance, you can conquer that mountain of clutter and create spaces in your home that bring you joy and peace. Here are some tips to help you along the way.
1) Know Your Why
This doesn’t need to be some deep, meaningful reason that you’ve come to with days and days of internal reflection. It can be as simple as not wanting things to fall out at you when you open a cupboard door. Maybe it’s a small vision for one tiny area or maybe it’s a big overall vision for your whole house. It’s beneficial to have a few small visions rather than one, great big one so that you can see the progress and keep the motivation up. This is very individual to you otherwise it won’t be enough to keep you going when the times get tough. Envision the space you want to create-perhaps it is clear countertops, organised shelves, and a sense of calm. Hang onto that image when the going gets tough, and it will help you stay focused and motivated to keep clearing that clutter.
2) Where, Oh Where, To Begin
This will depend a lot on your personality. If you are someone that loves to achieve goals, then it would be best to start with an easy win. Decide on a small task to tackle that won’t require a lot of time and energy so you can tick it off quickly and easily. This will have you feeling great about getting something done, and will most likely, create the momentum to keep on going. It may be that your why is what helps you choose where to start. Perhaps your desire is to spend more time together as a family and by making space in the kitchen, it would allow the opportunity to make and eat meals collectively. Something to keep in mind is that often people will start in a cupboard or the loft instead of every day spaces when in actual fact, these are the best places to start because it will impact your life day-to-day.
3) Good Things Come In Small Packages
It’s okay to start small. You might have grand plans, and that is fine, but break your plans down into small, manageable chunks. Clutter won’t magically disappear overnight, and it always takes longer than you think it will to get these things done. Whichever area you decide to begin in, give it smaller sections. So, for instance, if you’re starting with a desk, you may choose to have the top and each drawer as a section. This way, you can achieve easier wins throughout the process. By starting small, you’ll keep the momentum going, and it will build your confidence, too.
4) Imagine All The Dust and Cobwebs
People often have grand ideas of what the outcome will be like without visualising the step-by-step things along the way. Doing this can help to keep your why achievable because it actually creates pathways in your brain as if you have ALREADY done it. Take my loft for example. I know that it will take ages to go through everything up there because there is a LOT of stuff. So, I imagine all the dust and spiders, the freezing or boiling temperature that I will likely face, and the gloomy lighting conditions (which sounds pretty grim) but my mind is doing wonderful things with this information and making the actual process of doing so much easier. This is how gold Olympic athletes train themselves so go for the gold!
5) A Plan For Champions
On the big day, it’s really important to have a good sized (but not too big), healthy breakfast to keep your energy levels up, and it also helps keep your brain working at a higher capacity so decision making will be a bit easier. Consider what you are going to wear for the activity, and dress for success. Comfort always wins out, and layers are also useful in case you work up a sweat. Have a few snacks ready for your breaks (because there will be breaks) and have a drink to hand to keep yourself hydrated and keep you on task. Something with a closed lid is advisable since dust is almost inevitably part of decluttering.
Before diving in, know how much time you can devote to the task at hand, and then decide how long you will declutter before taking a break. Having a break will help keep you going so don’t think you don’t need any. If, for example, you have four hours to get stuff done, you could declutter for fifty minutes and then have a ten-minute break. But this will depend a lot on your energy levels. You know you best so be kind to yourself. Remember set a timer not only for your decluttering time but also your breaks, or you may get easily distracted into something else.
6) Have A Mantra
It can be really useful to make a simple list especially if you love to tick things off. Try and break your list right down into tiny steps so it’s easy to see progress. Then decide on a mantra. It might look something like this: take one thing out, decide whether to: keep, donate, sell or throw away and put it into the correct pile. Repeat. If you want to challenge yourself, choose how many times you would like to complete your mantra before you take your planned break. Don’t worry if you don’t get there. Sometimes it’s good just to set a challenge for yourself to keep you motivated.
7) Decision-Making Made Easier
So many barriers come up when you are trying to declutter things in your home. It cost money, it brings back memories, I’d feel guilty letting it go, I might need it someday and the reasons go on and on. Here’s a little tip to help you out. Imagine that you are moving in just two weeks. How important is that item to you now? Do you want to have to pack it, spend money to transport it and then unpack it? If it’s not worth ALL of the effort, then it’s okay to let it go.
8) Treat Yourself
It is so important to give yourself a reward when you have completed something, especially something as challenging as decluttering. Think about something that will help to keep you motivated. It may be best to NOT imagine that your reward will be buying yourself something. After all, the whole point of this process is to get rid of things so be creative about this. Perhaps at the end of all of your hard work, you will have a nice, bubbly bath with your favourite drink. Maybe you will give yourself some time to spend on doing something that will bring you joy like creating a music list full of your favourite songs. Perhaps you might even treat yourself to lunch out with a friend for a job well done. Whatever it is, decide before you start so that it will motivate you to get through to the end.
Remember, the decluttering journey is unique to you so the more you know about your reasons for doing it in the first place as well as knowing how you work, the better chance you have of seeing real progress. Be kind to yourself and although it can be hard, be patient. Just take baby steps and be consistent with your effort will lead to results that will have you feeling proud of yourself in no time. But most of all, you’ve got this!