So, you’ve decided to embrace simplicity in your life, and you’re absolutely ready to get rid of the majority of your stuff?
And you want to declutter your home quickly… Right?!
It can be done. It’s a lot of work and can be a very emotional process, but it is possible.
Now, if you have been collecting items and have rooms that are filled, please know that those areas which are mainly used as storage spaces, are going to take a lot more time and it’s not something you can typically rush through. But, if you consider yourself to have an average amount of stuff in your home (counters and cupboard may be full, but most of the floor is clean and open), then decluttering your home quickly is quite possible.
How much time do you have to devote to decluttering?
When you’re making plans to tackle a big project like this, it’s important to be realistic. Maybe start with one corner of a room and time yourself so you can get a better idea of how much time you need to set aside.
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t declutter your entire home in one weekend. Not many of us can! I know Marie Kondo talks about decluttering quickly, and for her, that means six months. Decluttering is something I worked at for about five years before I saw the difference I wanted. It’s going to be different for each person, depending on how much stuff you actually have and how attached you are to it.
For some people, that may mean a couple of hours, but for others, it may mean setting aside an entire weekend to work your way through one room.
Once you have an idea of how much time you need to set aside, schedule it out for yourself. Mark it on the calendar: set that date with yourself, block the time out and treat it like an important appointment that you can’t miss.
Plan out the next month, blocking out all the time you can to decluttering so you can make significant progress. Remember, things don’t happen unless you make it a point to plan it and follow through with your plan.
When you get to your decluttering date, turn off your phone and turn on some peppy music. Have boxes set up:
- To Put Away
The “To Put Away” box is for the things that you want to keep, but they belong in another area of the house. Having this box near you when decluttering, means you don’t need to leave your decluttering area to put things away. You can put all those miscellaneous things away after you’re finished decluttering.
Understand that you only have so much decision power.
There are people out there who can sort like a mad-man and toss amazing amounts of items in one sitting.
But that is not most people.
The majority of us have to practice decision making, and though it gets easier the more you work on decluttering when you first sit down to do it, it’s hard. And it can be frustrating when you see you’re not making the amount of progress you really want.
That’s perfectly okay!
Every person starts the day with a certain amount of decision making power, the more decisions made, the more depleted your power becomes. And then, by the end of the day, we have nothing left and end up ordering pizza for dinner and eating the rest of the chocolate chunk ice cream.
When you are decluttering a space, and you find that you are no longer putting things in the trash or donate boxes, but you’re just shuffling things from one space to another or setting them aside to decide on later… That means you’re done making decisions for the day.
Which also means it’s time to walk away from it.
This is probably the biggest hurdle to decluttering a home quickly. You may have the time and energy to attack a space, but you only have so much decision making power, and once it’s gone, you can’t force it.
Instead, take time out and refuel.
Start in an easy room.
I recommend starting in the kitchen, simply because it’s full of utilitarian items. It’s much easier to make a decision about a pizza cutter or a rice cooker than it is books or a stash of crafting materials.
If you come to sentimental items, like all those beautiful drawings from the children on your refrigerator, set them aside in a box or an out-of-the-way closet shelf, sentimental items take so much more decision making power. Take time to build your decision muscle before looking at your sentimental things.
Work your way around the room one category at a time: Mugs, silverware, mixing & measuring tools, etc. Follow an outline or make your list of categories so you can check things off as you go and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Understand it will take more than one pass.
Certainly, it would be nice to do it once and be done, but that’s just not the way it works. When you start out using your decision making power, it’s easier to keep things. So many of the decisions will be “keep.” After you’ve gone through the house, commit to doing it again. After a month or more of decluttering, your decision muscle will be much stronger, and you’ll see with new eyes what you need and what you don’t need.
Most of the time it’s 2-3 passes before a house is really down to the essentials and what you really need and want.
For most of us, getting our home into an actual minimal state is like peeling off layers.
Since we’ve lived surrounded by stuff for so long, it can be uncomfortable as we can get rid of large amounts, it takes time to get to down to the essential items and change the way we view items.
Avoid recreational shopping.
When you want a minimal home, you have to shift the way you shop. Avoid the clearance section, don’t stop in at stores just to see what is on sale, don’t head to target to get away and have some “me time.”
Look for that quick pick-me-up in other ways: spend time in your hobby, read, create, visit a friend.
Give yourself a “wait” rule. If you find something while you’re shopping and you think you should just buy it, just wait. Give yourself a timeframe: a week or 2 to think about it. If you still believe you need it after a week, decide where you will keep it before buying it. Giving each item a “home” to belong in prevents it from becoming added clutter.