How to declutter (for beginners)

You know your home is untidy and cluttered but each time you decide that you are going to declutter, you think of something more urgent that needs doing, like washing your hair, checking your Facebook or feeding the dog.  But there is a way towards clutter-free!  And with Christmas just appearing over the horizon, now is a good time to get started.

  1. Just start

Your home didn’t get cluttered overnight, it took months, maybe even years, of dedicated shopping.  So don’t expect miracles.  Just start – even if it’s only a small corner, you have started.  I like to go for the most cluttered part initially – a junk drawer, a work surface or coffee table – so that I can see results.


My hall before decluttering

  1. Time

Work out how much time you have to spend on your decluttering and put on your timer.  And don’t get out masses of stuff if you are only spending a short amount of time.  It will make your home feel worse if the contents of, say, your understairs cupboard are spread all over the place for a few days.  But even if you can only declutter for 15 or so minutes per day, do it.  Little steps eventually add up to a mountain climbed.

  1. Decluttering equipment

To keep it simple, have 3 bags or boxes ready before you start to declutter.  You can label or just remember that these are for:

(i)            Trash – anything broken or unwanted and not recyclable or reuseable

(ii)           Items that belong elsewhere in the house

(iii)          Items for recycling, either charity shop or for sale

Professional declutterers will have other categories but these will do to get you started.  I tend to just pile up anything I am going to keep as I know I will be putting it back at the end of the session but you could have a container for ‘keep in the same place’ items as well.

  1. Method

Take items from wherever you are decluttering in small doses.  For example, if you are decluttering a cupboard, take it shelf by shelf.  If you pull everything out at once, it will feel overwhelming.  Also, if the process takes longer than you planned, you can more easily stop with some progress made.


So put the broken stuff in the ‘Trash’ bag, anything that can be recycled, sold or given away in the ‘Recycling’ bag and anything that should be elsewhere in the ‘Belongs Elsewhere’ bag. To decide what to keep, professional organisers often quote William Morris’s saying, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”  It works well for most situations.  I would also include sentimental items in items to keep although even there I would cull from time to time.

  1. Finishing your declutter session


When you are getting near the end of your decluttering session, you should be able to give the area a quick clean – dust that shelf, wipe down that drawer.  It always feels good to finally be able to give a formerly cluttered area a good clean.  Then put back your ‘keeping stuff’ neatly and admire your handiwork.  For more tips on how to keep motivated, read this article on ……

Then throw out the trash.  If you have larger items that need to go to the civic refuse facility, then book a time in your diary NOW.  Put away ‘items that need to be elsewhere’ in their proper place.  As soon as possible, take reuseable items to the charity shop or Freegle them.  If you want to sell items, again book a time in your diary to do this.  And give yourself a deadline.  In other words, if after, say 2 weeks, you haven’t got round to Ebay or WeBuyBooks or wherever, then take the items to your local charity shop and experience the glow that comes from helping your fellow human beings.

Let us know how you get on!


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