by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Set up a donation box in a closet (or a few) so you have a place to put items when you realize you no longer need them.
One of the challenges with decluttering is just getting started. Or, starting again. Starting means that you’re committing to making a lot of decisions about what you’ll do with your stuff.
This quick-start guide streamlines your decision-making process by focusing you on a different task each day. It takes a lot less time to walk through a room and grab items you’ve identified as ‘trash’ than to stand in the middle of a room wondering where to start and what to do with everything.
This method is intended for clearing some of the stuff piled on countertops, tables, furniture, and the floor. This isn’t the time to delve into drawers, cabinets, closets, or storage boxes.
Prepare to Declutter
Walk through your home and take some ‘before’ picture. Really. In a week, you may be so focused on the work you still have to do that you’ll downplay what you’ve already accomplished.
Depending on the size of your home, and your schedule, plan at least 15-minutes a day for each activity but no more than 60-minutes. You want to do something every day. Avoid going into storage spaces (garage, “guest bedroom”) and instead stick with the rooms you use every day.
7-Day Quick-Start Guide to Decluttering
Day One – Walk around your home with a bin and toss anything that can be recycled. If you want to save things like glass bottles, shoeboxes, or other items for upcycled crafts, gather these items to a single location so you can better assess how many of these items you’ve been keeping and how many you’ll really use. (Keep cardboard boxes large enough for packing items to be donated.)
Day Two – Walk through your home with a trash bag and toss anything to be thrown away.
Day Three – Grab a laundry basket or a bin and gather items that belong in other rooms. As you move to another room, put away what belongs in that space. Don’t get caught up trying to find the perfect spot for each item. Go for good enough. Remember, this process helps you to get started.
Day Four – Collect items that you’d like to give to specific people. If the item is too bulky for a box, make a note of the item. Next, call, text, or email the individuals whom you’d like to give these items. Point out that they don’t have to take items they aren’t interested in. Schedule how and when you’ll get items to their new owners.
Day Five – With a box in hand, collect items that you want to sell. How will you do this? Consignment shop, online auction, auction house, yard sale? Hop online and research some options for these items.
Day Six – Move through each room, grabbing items for donation and packing them into boxes or bags. Can’t decide? Move on. You’ll come back to this room in the future. Deliver items to a donation center or schedule a pick up at your home so you home isn't cluttered with things you're getting rid of - it's difficult to see progress.
Day Seven – Consider if you’ll benefit from repeating this process next week or if you want to go deeper by focusing on a single room.
This is a rough outline. If you don’t want to fuss with selling things, then skip that activity and move on to the next. Stay focused on living spaces over storage spaces. Remember, this process is meant to get you started decluttering by moving you through overwhelm and procrastination.
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Susan, chief (and only) organized squirrel at A Less Cluttered Life, loves learning and sharing information about organizing, productivity, and habits. She also likes reading young adult novels, crocheting, and spending time with her cat and husband in their riverside home in Massachusetts.