Decluttering Your Home

(This is a continuation of my series on decluttering. If you missed last week’s post, you can read it here.)

Decluttering your home, office, and vehicle will change your life in more ways than merely making it cleaner. You’ll feel healthier, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll be more productive.

When you embark on a decluttering journey, you will discover many beautiful things about yourself and your environment.

You’ll reduce stress, start feeling healthier, and become more productive. No matter what type of person you are, studies show that clutter literally makes people sick, both mentally and physically. By decluttering, you’ll gain numerous benefits affecting all aspects of your life.

  • Reduce Stress – When you have clutter around you, it is hard not to feel stressed out. However, some studies show that dirt, dander, and germs may be causing additional anxiety. Clutter gives these things a place to grow and hide. If you clean it up, you get rid of it.
  • Create a Safe Environment – There is more to physical health and safety than germs. When you have too much clutter, you may find yourself tripping or falling over things in your way. Having a home for all of your items and clear areas to do the things you need to do each day is the best way to avoid preventable accidents.
  • Get Healthier – When you aren’t breathing in all that dander and dust, you will start feeling better. If you think you have allergies or asthma, you may be shocked at how much better you feel when you clean up your environment and cut down the clutter.
  • Gain Energy – When you’re not congested, and your body isn’t responding by trying to kill the virus infecting you (when it’s just dander and dust), you will feel much more energetic. You’ll sleep better, eat better, be more hydrated, and just be better overall because you’ll be more organized and less dirty.
  • Become More Productive – When you’re not wasting time looking for stuff, you get things done much easier and faster. If you don’t have to spend an hour cleaning up before you do things, it makes life so much better.
  • Manage Your Money Better – Clutter causes a lot of problems with money. You probably forget to balance your bank account, and you likely also forget about paying bills when you have clutter. The main reason is simply disorganization and lack of time awareness, which is common for people who have issues dealing with clutter.
  • Be on Time – Clutter also causes you to be late a lot. You’re tripping around your house trying to find things and working in very disorganized circumstances. You’re not likely to be on time as often as you wish. However, if you get the clutter under control, you can once again be on time and respectful to others.

The hardest part about decluttering is making the decision to do it. Once you start on the path, if you’ve worked on your mindset and understand that this is a lifelong process. This is not going to happen overnight (I’m still working on mine). You can declutter and improve almost every aspect of your life, given the time. Let’s first talk about changing your mindset and then move on to more practical advice about getting it done.

Change Your Mindset

If you really want to declutter your home and environment, the first thing you need to do is change your mindset. Sometimes clutter is born from a lack of organization skills, and sometimes it goes deeper.

Many people who have serious clutter problems, which verge on hoarding, tend to have issues letting go of the past. It really doesn’t matter why, as much as you may think. It seems, at least statically, that dealing with the clutter lets you deal with everything else positively and has excellent benefits all on its own.        

  • Visualize Your Space – Whichever room you want to think about, go in there and stand in the middle. Make a slow 360-degree turn and look at your room. Note everything that’s in the way and disorganized, but then start – in your mind – removing things from the room until you can visualize what it should look like when it’s working well. 
  • Stop Buying New Items – Right now, stop buying anything new. While you may have to buy things to replace broken items, and that’s okay, always give it a lot of thought about whether you need it or not or can make do with something else. For now, you want only to buy things you really must have until you get the clutter under control.
  • Prepare Mentally – Accept that this is going to be difficult. You may be attached to your clutter. That might be hard to understand, but it’s called “imposter syndrome” and can also be a sign of fear of failure or even fear of success. Accept now that this will be hard, but commit to doing it. There is a book called Clutter Busting Your Life that really explains why you might be hanging on to clutter. (It’s an oldie but a goodie.)
  • Get Needed Tools & Materials – Here is permission to buy things. However, a word of caution. Don’t buy any organizing tools or materials until you know exactly what you will use them for. Wait until you’re ready to put the stuff you’re keeping away, and then buy what you need for storage and keeping it together.
  • Remember Sunk Costs – As you go through your stuff and eliminate clutter, you may think of wasting your money. In business, there is a term: Sunk Cost. It means you’ve already spent the money; it’s gone. That money that you have already spent cannot be used as a factor in a future financial decision. So, if you haven’t used those woodworking tools for three years, are you really wasting money selling your stuff for 20 cents on the dollar? Nope.
  • Start Big – Normally, when you’re making a change, people say to start small. In this case, start with the thing that bothers you the most. If that’s your bedroom, go for it. If it’s your office, go for it. Choose the room that is the biggest problem. This will give you more bang for your buck and boost your motivation to continue.

The awesome factor about changing your mindset is that when you learn how to think of things differently, you have a better chance of being successful. You won’t need as much willpower and self-control when you truly understand why you are doing what you’re doing and the benefits of doing it. The best way to get started is to craft a decluttering plan.

Craft a Decluttering Plan

The first thing you want to do if you’re going to declutter is to craft a decluttering plan. You need to set goals, schedule everything, and get yourself straight on what you’re going to tackle first. In addition, you need to learn how to let go as you move forward with the plan.

  • Set Goals – The first thing you need to do to craft your declutter plan is to set goals for decluttering. Set timeline goals set up goals for each room. You may be unable to do everything you want immediately because you may not have the budget. For example, you may have determined the storage tools you need, but you cannot afford to buy them today. Therefore, these goals are short and long-term.
  • Determine Ground Rules – As you’re working on your decluttering plan, you need to set rules, such as not moving on to another room or area until the first one is finished. Don’t bring in things that have no purpose. Don’t overschedule yourself. If your schedule only allows 30 minutes a day devoted to decluttering, that’s how it is; set your goals and rules accordingly.
  • Create a Schedule – Get out your calendar and write in exactly what you’ll do during the day and time that you’ve set forth. The schedule is the most important thing because it’s what’s going to keep you at this long-term so that you can genuinely get control of your clutter and improve your life.
  • One Room / Space at a Time – When you create your schedule, don’t pick more than you can really do. Choose just one room or one space to work on at a time. Maybe all you have time to do on your day off is to clean the kitchen drawers. That’s okay. Being realistic about your plan is vital to experiencing success with it.
  • Set Up a Junk Space (for now only) – Since this is going to take a while, you want to choose a place right now to put at least three to four boxes that are labeled: Trash, keep, donate. Some people like a fourth box, sell. It’s up to you to organize that the way you want it. You need a place to keep these boxes while you’re going through the decluttering process.
  • Let Go Mentally – This has been discussed before, but it’s only because it’s so important. When you tackle a room, you have to let go, mentally, of the value. Allow yourself to forget about the money you’ve spent, and now think of the money you’re going to save as you don’t buy more stuff. You don’t want to clutter up your home again.
  • Get the Right Organizational Tools – Once you identify the organizational tools, you need to buy what you can or make what you can that fits in with your budget. It’s okay if you cannot do it all right away if you’re working toward getting what you need by saving, selling things, and so forth.
  • Get the Right Storage Tools – The other thing you will have to spend money on or get creative on is finding the right storage for your stuff. If something is important to you, then it’s important enough to store it in a way that makes it more usable and taken care of.
  • Develop Clutter-Free Habits – Even before decluttering even one room, start developing clutter-free habits such as touching the mail once while you stand over the garbage. Inventory and organize what you have. Toss things the moment you don’t need them and stop buying things without a plan for its use.  

The one thing you’re going to learn with decluttering is how the small actions really make a big difference. You’ll realize that you have more control over your environment. It may just be de-cluttering your physical environment, but it’s also freeing you up mentally for success in every aspect of your life.            

Deal with The Clutter

Now that you have a plan in place and a schedule, you’ll want to deal with the clutter. First, let’s discuss the various ways to deal with the clutter and then some common clutter spots to consider too.

  • Trash, Keep, Donate, or Sell – Set up three to four boxes that you’ve labeled with “keep,” “trash,” “Donate,” or “Sell.” Before you start, you should know where you will donate things. If you can’t think of any place or person that you know to take the item and you cannot sell it, you must throw it away. It can be shocking that no one wants your plate or Fabergé egg collection, but for the most part, they don’t.
  • Recycle – When it comes to throwing things away, make sure you know what you can recycle and what you need to trash. Most of your plastic can be recycled, as can glass, paper, and possibly even magazines. Call your local garbage collection center and ask them about this because they may also supply individual containers to collect recyclables during your decluttering process.
  • Donate/ Freecycle – One way to eliminate some of your more useful stuff is to donate it. You can choose a charity. if you are on Facebook, you can join your local marketplace in your area and list the items that you’re giving away, and people will come to get them.
  • Sell on The Net – One way to get rid of stuff you no longer use is to sell it on the net. It may take some trial and error to find the areas where your items sell best. You’ll also want to find out whether one group works better than another, such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace. I also sell on Etsy.
  • Garage Sale – If you have a garage or a yard, having a sale is a great way to get rid of your usable stuff. However, you must be willing to sell your stuff for about 10 to 20 cents on the dollar. That means if you paid 100 bucks, you probably could not sell it for more than 20 dollars at your garage sale. However, remember, getting rid of the things you don’t use is worth much more than money.
  • Trash – Ensure that trash is really trash and that you’re throwing things away correctly. For example, old batteries and computer parts must be disposed of properly. You probably have donation centers in your area just to eliminate things like this.

The point is that you need a special plan for dealing with the clutter as you start cleaning out things. You want a good system in place so you don’t make matters worse as you work through this. Knowing what you’ll do with things will help. Let’s go over the common clutter spots you may encounter and how you can deal with them.

Common Clutter Spots to Consider and How to Deal with Them

To assist you with your plans and to help you meet your decluttering goals you might be interested to learn about the various most common spots that collect clutter that most people have in their homes.

  • Garage, Basement, & Attic – These first three are the very most common areas where people collect clutter before it starts spreading to the rest of their home. Most people do try to put the clutter out of the way at first. Often, tackling these areas first can give you more perspective about what you need in the rest of the house.
  • Drawers, Cabinets & Closets – These are the next culprits in the clutter collection hotspots. Again, most of us like to stuff the clutter out of the way. That makes these hiding spots ideal for the existence of clutter, making these areas are a source of frustration. Tackling these first is also a good idea because it offers you spaces to properly store things.
  • Kitchen – When a kitchen becomes cluttered, it is often due to the fact it has a lot of drawers, cabinets, and closets. In addition, most of us tend to buy more kitchen gadgets than we’ll ever use or have space to use. Clearing your kitchen of extraneous things that make it harder to be productive there is a surefire way to improve your day from the moment you get up to make your first cup of coffee.
  • Dining Room – If you have a dining room or a dining area, the table is never used for anything but junk, it’s time to reevaluate that room. Do you want to eat at the table? Would you rather turn that room into something else? Just because one family likes something doesn’t mean you have to. Even so, having clutter everywhere is unhealthy.
  • Living Room – You may not think you have that much clutter in your living room, but some areas are a problem for some people. Usually, if they have an entertainment center or side tables and are prone to clutter, they have tons of stuff all over the place on a routine basis. You can set this up to provide storage for things you always have in there to make it work better. In addition, why not put a small trash can near every lamp and table to collect tissues and other garbage easily right where it happens.
  • Bedroom – Many people use their bedrooms for too much. As an adult, your bedroom should only be used for three things — sleep, sex, and recovering from illness. Find ways to make your bedroom a sanctuary of relaxation and wellness by organizing everything. In addition, reduce the number of activities you do there to make it a special place.
  • Office – If you have a home office, it may become known for collecting clutter from around the house. It may even become an impromptu or “emergency” storage room before you know it. Unless you put a screeching halt to this practice, you may end up working in the living room on your couch with your laptop instead of in your office. Your office should be designed and maintained for optimum success. You can accomplish that with the right storage and knowing how to separate areas by their use.
  • Laundry Room – The laundry room, depending on how big it is, often ends up as a depository for lost socks and things no one ever wears. The key in the laundry room is organization. Ensure you have a space for each of the functions you need to do with laundry.
  • Bathroom – Due to cabinets and closets, the bathroom is also a potential catch-all for hidden stuff behind closed doors. Going through those items and ensuring only bathroom-related things are in the bathroom will go far in helping you get this room as functional as possible.
  • Vehicle – Many people seem to practically live out of their cars these days. If you have trouble finding the floor in your car, you may want to tackle that first so that you can use your car to get rid of the rest of the stuff you will donate and give away. Make habits once you do to take everything out of the car every time you leave it or make a rule you must put it in the trunk. Have a trash bag there and a box or bag for taking things in the house, too.        

The key to your success is keeping the clutter away. However, the other key is to understand that this is a process, and once you embark on the journey, it may go up and down and around a lot of curves, but it will make your life much better overall.

When you realize how important it is to keep your environment neat, clean, and uncluttered, it’s a no-brainer that you must make fighting the clutter a top priority for your health and your productivity.

Note: If you are interested in my Organize and Declutter Challenge, you can purchase my book on Amazon. You can also download my FREE Organize and Declutter Tracker HERE.

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