You want to declutter and organize your entire home, right?
Sounds great! And I have a plan for exactly how to do just that!
First off, let’s talk about decluttering.
What does it mean to “declutter?”
When I’ve done Pinterest searches on decluttering the house, I got a ton of articles… that all talked about putting things in bins, color-coding, and label makers.
So there seems to be a bit of a difference in people’s definitions of decluttering.
So, in this article, I want you to know that when I talk about decluttering, I’m referring to getting rid of things.
We can’t organize clutter- well, maybe we can, but it won’t stay organized!
If you’ve ever struggled with setting up a beautiful system with baskets and labels only to have your family cram stuff in the closet NEXT to the baskets- then you know what I’m talking about.
If we want our family to be able to follow our organizational system, we need to make it stupid easy.
Decluttering should be de-owning
I remember reading a quote by Joshua Becker- don’t just declutter, de-own. And that is exactly what we need to do.
It doesn’t help our home stay clean and organized if we simply shuffle our clutter from one area to another.
I used to do the clutter-shuffle. Instead of getting rid of things, when I cleaned or organized a room, I would be “creatively rearranging” all the items.
But my house was always a disaster- unless it was a day or two past the shuffling episode. Rearranging all the stuff was simply that- rearranging.
And when I thought about having a tidy space, I pictured myself shuffling clutter All. Day. Long.
Um, no, thank you.
Years later, I finally figured out I had to DE-OWN all the stuff.
I wasn’t able to maintain my home. Because the amount of stuff in it- it was an impossible task. There is more to life than just taking care of THINGS.
But what if we like the stuff?
Of course, we like it! We own things for all sorts of reasons.
And when we realize that we are keeping things out of guilt or shame- those items are easier to be sure about. Yes, I’m sure I need to get rid of the 23 vases- I never use them, and it doesn’t matter that we got them all as wedding gifts 27 years ago- I don’t use them, they need to go!
But what about the things that we acquired because we really LIKE the item?
Here’s the deal: you have a life you want to live. And everything you own should assist you in living that life.
It doesn’t matter how great the item is; if your dream is to be a travel blogger, all the items you own are preventing you from doing that full-time.
Suppose your dream is to own a homestead. In that case, all the fancy dinnerware and cutesy decorations are creating more upkeep- when really, you need to be able to focus on maintaining the garden and preserving food.
If your dream is to volunteer your time to at-risk youth, all the excess in your home feels draining when you walk in, instead of being a calm retreat to come home to.
First step: declutter the most
Want to win the decluttering game? Get rid of the most. The most you possibly can.
People always tell me, “I’ve been decluttering for a long time, but it never makes any difference.”
Ok- so get rid of MORE.
Minimalism is about getting our possessions down to an amount that is stupid-easy to maintain.
The people that only own two plates? They’ve realized that washing a plate after every meal is easier than washing ten plates every other day.
The extreme is only having enough for one person for one day, but getting down the number of items you need to live comfortably for a week- simplifies everything.
It means the kitchen is easy to clean because there is nothing on the counters.
It means the living room is easy to keep clean because there isn’t anything stored in it.
It means the closet stays organized- because it’s not hard to hang up one coat per family member.
Specific decluttering advice:
- Where do I start decluttering?
- Decluttering 101
- The Questions to Ask When You’re Decluttering
- Decluttering the Boy’s Room – With Video!
- Tween Room Declutter – With Video
- 3 Steps to Take When Decluttering Sentimental Items
- 2020 in 2020 Decluttering Challenge
After you’ve gotten rid of the non-essentials, then organize the rest
Picture a desk drawer- a big drawer full of pens, pencils, markers, tape, paper, notes, scissors- so much random junk.
Now, picture only the essentials in that drawer- a couple of pens, markers, tape, and scissors.
Then you can organize- easily!
Having a drawer divider for the essential things and the desk drawer is now useful; easy to know where things are, and easy to put things away again.
When there aren’t many items to organize, organizing is easy, and it’s easy to stay organized.
Follow the flow of the room and how you use your home
Store items near where you use them most.
As Elizabeth Enright Phillips said in her book Minimalism Room by Room: take a moment to pause in each room and imagine the traffic pattern- where would all the footprints be in that room? What are people doing, and what things are they using?
And create your organized zones based on that pattern.
In the kitchen, pay attention to which counter you do all your baking at, and then arrange your baking, mixing, and measuring supplies near there, so it’s easy for you to access.
If you always get water out of the refrigerator, use the cupboard near the fridge to hold your water glasses.
If you always take your shoes on and off at the entry, then find a shoe organizer that fits in your entry area and holds the amount you typically store there.
If you’re digging out the lawnmower and yard tools every week, then make a space for them near the door, so it’s easy for you to retrieve and put away again.
Make the organizing easy for all household members
I have a million kids.
Ok, 6. But still, it feels like a lot.
All the organizing systems have to be easy for them, or they won’t do it.
That means we have one bin for pens, pencils, and markers. One bin for scissors.
The dishes are in a place that is easy for them to get to, and they can set the table and not get in my way while I’m cooking.
There are hooks in their room for coats and backpacks- because they’ll hang things on hooks, but not on hangers.
No personal items are stored in the communal areas. Instead, every child has their own shelf/bin. If I find anything that belongs to them- I put it in their space or ask them to.
Each of the containers in their room has a purpose: one for legos, one for Bionicles, one for Perler beads, etc.
It was better when I could reduce the amount and give “homes” to items that were easy for the kids. Perfect? No- but better, easier, and they knew what to do when I asked. The system wasn’t too complicated for them.
Specific organizing advice:
- Organization for Families
- 3 Tricks to Keeping the Counters Decluttered and Clean
- How to Declutter and Organize the Garage
- How-to: Declutter And Organize Your Craft Room
- Home Organization for the Minimalist
- Simplifying Laundry for a Large Family