A 3-Step Declutter Plan

Ready to do a little spring cleaning? How about doing some decluttering as you go?

Decluttering can be intimidating if you think about your whole house. So start small. What’s a single area of your house that’s been calling to you? The refrigerator? The cabinet under the TV? A bedroom closet?

When you have a target in mind, here are three steps to get going.

Step 1
Prepare for success.

  • Decide what the best time of day is for you to declutter. When are you most decisive? First thing in the morning? Right after lunch? In the evening when it’s quiet?
  • Figure out what day of the week you want to jump in. Do you want to tackle this in parts on a weekday or weeknight? Or does a longer, weekend day work better for you?
  • Once you decide on your timing, look at your calendar and block out time.
  • Before your scheduled date, get boxes ready for give-away (Goodwill or the like); for items that need to be returned; for items that need to be fixed; and for items that are going to another room. And you’ll need large, sturdy trash bags.
  • If you love music, put together a soundtrack for your declutter date. Jazz, rock, rap – whatever gets you going.
  • On your declutter day, dress for success. Be comfortable. And be ready to get dirty.

Step 2
No matter what you tackle first, the steps are the same.

  • Empty everything out of whatever you’re going to declutter – a closet, a drawer, the refrigerator. As you empty, put similar things in their own pile – pens go with pens, pins with pins, sweaters with sweaters, etc.
  • Tackle one pile at a time. Let’s say you’re pulling apart a closet and decide to start with shoes. Match up your pairs and give each one a look.
    • Do you wear them? Then they go in a “stay” pile.
    • Are they out of season but you’ll wear them again? Then they stay but go to an outside area when you re-load the closet.
    • If you’re not wearing them but they still bring you joy, they stay but go to an outer part of the closet.
    • If you’re not wearing the shoes or they don’t bring you joy, are they ready for the trash? Then they go in the trash bag.
    • If they’re still in good shape, they go in the Goodwill box.
    • If they don’t belong in this closet, put them in the box to go to another room where they have a home.
    • Did you borrow them from someone? Then they go in the “return” box.
    • Anything that needs to be fixed goes into the “fix” box. Don’t put anything away that can’t be pulled out and worn the next time you reach for it.
  • Sort out each pile in the same way ending up with just the things that logically belong in this closet, that you use, and/or that bring you joy.
  • Before you put anything away, clean the closet floor, rods, and shelves. Fix any loose shelves or rods and be sure to pitch any broken or malfunctioning hangers.
  • Now clear your space. The trash goes out (no second thoughts on what to keep!). The give-away and return boxes go into the car. The fix box goes to where you’ll see the items to be fixed. And I’d give yourself a time limit on those. Are you really going to fix them? If not, out they go. If items belong in another room, don’t take time now to start another room – just leave the box there for your next declutter.

Step 3
Now you’re ready to organize the closet.

  • Before you put the first thing away, think about how you use this closet.
    • What do you use the most often?
    • The least often?
    • What have you been struggling to reach?
    • Is there something you’d like to have in this closet that didn’t fit before? If so, go get it now so you can figure out a great new home for it in this closet.
  • Start re-loading on the hardest to reach edges – along the sides and any high shelves – with the things you use least often. Work your way to the center with the things you use most often.
  • Or if you want to have some fun, sort by color as your re-stock, from darkest to lightest. It feels goofy but it looks cool, it helps you find things you’re looking for, and it reminds you where to put something when you return it to that closet.
  • If you have big areas of the closet that would benefit by dividers, see if you have something on hand – like a sturdy box or storage bin. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on organizers. Simple is great.

When you do a great declutter, your space will be easier to clean going forward. And if you put things away each time you use them, a decluttered area will stay decluttered. If you’re new to decluttering, focus on keeping this one space decluttered for 30 days to make this into a habit.

Of note:

  • A side benefit of decluttering is that it makes you VERY decisive.
  • When you know what you have and where to find it, you tend to shop less.
  • And may actually feel peaceful with your stuff.

Good luck!

Happy (sort of) spring from the wilds of Maine – on a sunny Friday and snowy Saturday!

Want to see other posts on this blog? There’s a small link below to the most recent post. Or check out the column on the right to see what other folks are reading. Try the “search” box at the top right if you’re looking for something in particular. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions for future posts! Happy organizing!

 

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