Where do I start decluttering?

You know you need to simplify, but with all the stuff around the house… where do we even start decluttering?

Simplifying is a two-part task:

  1. Changing habits
  2. Decluttering the excess

First off, changing habits: Picking up regularly, doing dishes after each meal, and avoiding shopping as a way to enjoy “recreation.”
Then decluttering all the excess in your home. And by decluttering, I mean to get it out of the house. We’re not rearranging, we’re not reorganizing- no, we’re removing it from our lives. That is going to make our lives easier.

1. Changing Habits

Picking up regularly

This is something I didn’t want to do.
I didn’t enjoy putting things away, so I wouldn’t.
I would leave things out and say “I’m just too lazy, I don’t feel like it, I’ll do it later.”
As if I would ever feel like putting things away later!
And how is that even lazy, when I was actually making myself work twice as hard?
Deciding to pick up after yourself ASAP, puts the power back in your hands.
When we leave stuff laying around- we’re allowing it to control us.
Does the coffee cup really care if I put it in the sink or leave it out? No! But if I don’t deal with it now, it’s almost as if that coffee cup sits and mocks me: “I’ll have to be dealt with at some point! And I’ll sit here until you do! Just you wait and see!!”

Doing dishes after each meal

I used to hate doing dishes too. I would wait until every single dish in the house was dirty and then I would begrudgingly go into the kitchen and spend hours washing everything. Thinking the entire time what a victim I was and how I sacrificed for my family so they could eat off clean dishes- and no one ever appreciated such sacrifice. *Back of hand to forehead in a dramatic gesture.*
When I finally learned to wash dishes after every meal, I found that it only took me a couple of minutes. Maybe even 1.5 minutes. It wasn’t much. And the sink was always clean, everything was ready for whatever task I needed to do- and just like that coffee cup sitting out mocking me… the dishes couldn’t do that anymore either.
No more “Oh yeah, I still have to deal with the dishes.”
NOPE! They were done!!

Then there is recreational shopping

We can’t possibly simplify our home if we’re continually shopping and bringing more things into it.
Don’t get me wrong- I like stuff. I love going to Target or The Home Store and finding fun new ways to decorate and organize things!
I desperately wanted to declutter and embrace minimalism, and it certainly wasn’t working when I’d bring things home each week.
For me, it’s helped to stop scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest (magazines had to go as well).
Sure, it was inspiring, but it also gave me a deep sense of discontentment. I wished my husband liked DIY projects and would build me things. I wanted different paint colors on the walls. There was always better shelving and cuter pictures.
Shopping fed into that as well and every time I went out, I came back disliking my house a little bit more.
There are so many more things we can fill our days with when we aren’t shopping– but I’m going to have to save that for another post. 😉

2. Decluttering the excess

Ok, so what about the actual decluttering part?
Here’s what I teach in all my courses:

Start in the kitchen.

Work category by category until you are completely done in the kitchen. Then, and only then, do you move on to another room.
I know it’s more fun to flit around from one space to another picking up a little bit here and a little bit there and donating a big box of random things.
But if you want to see results, you have to focus on one room at a time.

Save the sentimental items for last

Most of us think about the piles of whatnots in the dark recesses of our homes and immediately jump to the most dreaded tasks when we decide we need to declutter.
I’m here to tell you “no!”
The sentimental items are the most difficult and emotionally charged items. They are going to take time and will probably be a challenge. So save them for last.

Declutter the non-essentials in all the main living areas of your home first.

Make your everyday living easier: streamline your kitchen, simplify your closet, reduce the toy collection at least by half, limit the amount of furniture and decor items you have to take care of.
It will make every aspect of everyday living more efficient- leaving you a good chunk of spare time on your hands.
Also, making decisions is hard at first.
We have to “work out” our decision-making ability. The more we do, the stronger we will get, and the easier it will be to make a decision.
And then, when you’re confident in your decisions, you have your home under control- then, you can work on reducing the number of sentimental items that are stashed away.

Questions to ask as you declutter

My three main questions are:

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Do I use it?
  3. Does it help me live the life I want to live?

Too often we base our decisions on who we were in the past, who we hope to be in the future or who we think we’re supposed to be.
Embracing minimalism means we have to come face to face with ourselves and figure out what we want our current life to look like and ask if the things in our home are actually helping us live that life.
Everything in our homes should assist us in some way. If they aren’t, then they are weighing us down (because we have to manage them- dust them, move them, keep track of them… ugh- so exhausting!).
I’m not saying we have to discard everything that isn’t some sort of tool, even a beautiful piece of pottery can assist us if we enjoy looking at it.
What I am saying though is that we should not keep things out of guilt, shame, or fear (but what if I need it???).

If you need motivation, join a challenge

Each year I host a yearly challenge- to get rid of the same number of items as there are in the year. And I also have an incredible Facebook group that is super supportive of each other’s decluttering.
When you’re feeling stuck- reach out, talk to people, share your journey. You are not alone. ❤️
Click here to join the Free Facebook Group
You know you need to simplify, but with all the stuff around the house... where do we even start decluttering?

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey after I'd been doing a yearly decluttering challenge for 4 years and started to see a change in my home. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, please join our FREE Facebook Group: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. CJ on 08/10/2020 at 5:58 pm

    Good tips. Making a habit out of picking up little messes and putting things away really cuts down on the overwhelming stress that can come with decluttering your space!

  2. […] Where do I start decluttering? […]

  3. Jane on 09/18/2020 at 9:17 pm

    When is the next one

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