Help! How can I start decluttering?

At the beginning, actually starting the decluttering process can be really hard.  Looking around your home, you feel overwhelmed as you think about how much stuff you have to go through and how long it is going to take. You feel that is just not worth starting such an impossible task.  That is exactly how I felt several years ago. 

 At four years old, our daughter was still sleeping in our room and I was desperate to create a lovely girly bedroom for her from our spare room.  But every time I went in there, I was horrified at the sheer size of the task.  So much stuff had accumulated there over the last 7 years that I couldn’t even bear to think about starting to sort it all out.

 Start small

 But I was determined that my daughter would be in her own room by the time she started school in September.  Finally, I decided that I would start on a small scale somewhere else in the house.  This seemed like a strange idea – how would that help me get the spare room sorted? – but I decided to try it out.

At that time, our garage was so full that we couldn’t walk from one end to the other and all the shelves and containers I had bought to try and bring order into the chaos were full.  Near to the side door of the garage were several small plastic storage boxes with an assortment of contents such as shoe cleaning stuff and electrical bits and bobs.  I decided to start with these as each box could be tackled in a short period of time.  I also decided to do only one each day so as not to get overwhelmed.

 I would cover the kitchen table with newspaper, fetch one of boxes, tip put the contents and go through each item one by one.  I would then decide what to throw away (I had the kitchen bin nearby) and what to keep.   I was horrified by the amount of duplication (how many types of black polish does one household need!) and waste that I found.  How could I have let this happen?. (We will talk about guilt and all those other feelings that decluttering can cause in another blog!).  But I kept going.

 Do something every day

I made it a challenge to myself to do something ‘decluttering’ every day.    Anything related to decluttering counted so, for example, a trip to the charity shop or the council tip would count for that day’s decluttering task. 

 Once I had finished the 3 or 4 small containers, I went on to the boxes of paper from our business that were also stored in the garage.   I only took a small pile each day so that I still kept the task doable in a short space of time. 

Congratulate yourself!

To keep myself going, I congratulated myself on what I had achieved each day.  When I did get disheartened about how long it might take to sort out the entire house, I told myself that the only way out was the way through and that however much I managed to do, it was better than the nothing I had been doing before.

 After two weeks of these small tasks, I realised that this was the way to tackle the spare room – a bit at a time.  I ended up alternating sorting out the spare room with other mini-projects like a drawer or a box of toys so that I always felt I was achieving something.   And, yes, my daughter moved into her own bedroom before she started school!

 So, if you are having problems getting started on decluttering your home, try and find something small to get you going.    Let us know how you get on.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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