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A Quick-Start Guide to Decluttering Your Home

a tidy bedroom with bedside light, white end table and patterned bedsheets

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I can't speak for the whole world, but I can speak for myself - I want less clutter in my home. I'm sure I can safely say that many agree.

Unwanted clutter takes up precious space, makes it difficult to keep our homes tidy, and hinders us from quickly finding our belongings. All of this can increase stress levels for anyone, especially those leading a fast-paced lifestyle or who spend a significant amount of time at home, such as parents, carers, and those working remotely.

How to Declutter Your Home

cluttered shelves full of china plates and bowls

Clutter easily builds up over the years, getting out of control because we tend to put away numerous things we believe we will use one day, but because they are out of sight, they simply cease to exist in our minds. The result is a jumbled mess that makes you feel tired just looking at it. 

So, if clutter is the enemy, does that mean decluttering is the aid we all need? The short answer is yes, but it's not always that simple. 

It might seem straightforward to banish unwanted clutter from your home, but decluttering can be overwhelming - it takes a long time and usually involves some ruthless decision-making. 

In this post, we'll cover 6 of what we think are the most important factors to consider when it comes to serious decluttering, from planning to helpful hacks to maintaining a clutter-free home long-term.

1: Don't Aim to Do it All in One Day

a burnt out person lying on their bed with their dog

I've been through countless decluttering sprees within my own home and half of the time I end up burnt out halfway through due to either failure to plan, or an underestimation of how much clutter I have. 

If you haven't decluttered in some time, it's good to set aside a generous chunk of time to get your home looking and functioning how you want it to.

Don't expect to finish it all in one day. When done right, decluttering can take up to a week or more, depending on how big or chaotic your home is. Do a little bit every day, stay consistent, and you'll have a clutter-free home in no time. 

2: Recruit Some Helpers

somone decluttering their wardrobe

Consider asking friends or family for help decluttering. A friend could help you decide which items to donate, or even take them away for you.

You could also offer items to friends who may find them useful, creating a win-win situation. Asking for a little help can make the decluttering process easier and faster.

3: Make a Plan

someone writing on a post-it note and making a plan

Take the time to write down which areas of your home need decluttering. This can help you establish the time and effort needed to complete the work ahead so you can plan accordingly.

Make a list of rooms, closets and other storage areas that have become dumping grounds for unused items and prioritise which ones to tackle first. Do one room, one closet, and one drawer at a time. Avoid bouncing from room to room doing little bits of decluttering, as this can prolong the process.

Create simple "keep" and "toss" piles to start and begin decluttering each section of your home. Then put everything in the "keep" pile back in its place and begin further organising the clutter you're getting rid of - create "recycle", "trash", "donate" and "sell" piles and plan how to get everything out of your house. 

4: Implement Decluttering Rules

someone organising their clothes

Debating whether or not to keep or toss an item isn't always as straightforward as asking yourself whether you still want it or not.

Utilise rules that are designed to help you determine whether something is worth keeping or not:

  • 90/90 Rule: The 90/90 rule involves thinking about whether you have used or worn an item in the last 90 days. If you haven't, ask yourself whether you'll use it in the next 90 days. If the answer is an easy "no" to both questions, the item probably needs to go.

  • 20/20 Rule: The Minimalists created the 20/20 Rule to help mitigate the build-up of "just in case" items. Determine whether an item can be replaced for less than $20, and if it would take less than 20 minutes to replace. If it would, then it's probably a "just in case" item which, 99% of the time, won't ever get used. Toss it.

  • 12-12-12 Rule: Make a habit of using this rule to keep your home clutter-free long-term. The process involves finding 12 items in your home to throw away (such as general rubbish, empty cosmetics, old documents, etc), 12 items to donate (like unwanted clothes or trinkets), and 12 items to return to their designated space (misplaced items).

  • 3-Second Rule: Give yourself only 3 seconds to decide whether to keep or toss an item. This can help move your decluttering process along if it's making slow progress. Do your best to make it a final decision, but if you can't decide after 3 seconds, add the item to a "maybe" pile and perform the 3-Second Rule again later. 

5: Plan How to Dispose of Unwanted Items

cardboard moving/decluttering boxes piled on top of each other

Carelessly disposing of all unwanted clutter or simply chucking it in the trash isn't great for the environment and can be wasteful. Instead, donate things that are still in good condition, sell valuables, and rehome things that could be useful to a friend or neighbour. What you can't sell or give away, recycle or dispose of responsibly.

Make sure you get rid of the results of your decluttering quickly. If it's left lingering too long, it's just another mess. 

When it comes to transporting unwanted clutter, if you have a large amount to get rid of, you might want to consider using a waste removal service for disposable items. Additionally, you could explore charities that offer donation collections from your home. If you don't have a car, consider asking someone who does for help with carting everything around.

6: Establish a Regular Decluttering Routine

close up of a nest bedside table with table lamp and plant next to a bed with white sheets

While a grand decluttering mission can have beautiful results in the short term, maintaining a clutter-free home involves regular attention to how much excess clutter creeps into your house.

Incorporate decluttering into your weekly or monthly cleaning routine, even if you can only tackle one drawer or cabinet at a time. This habit will prevent you from accumulating more stuff.


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