Clutter is stressful.
Whether you are a neat freak or someone who thrives on organized chaos, research has shown that clutter actually stresses us out — whether it’s dirty dishes piling up, messy stacks of papers, or laundry that didn’t quite make it into the hamper.
Not only can clutter *physically* block you, but it can also introduce some mental blocks as well, causing you to feel dissatisfied, unhappy, and even become a less efficient thinker. On the flip side, the simple act of picking up can lead to increased levels of happiness and increased productivity.
So where to start? Today, we’re sharing five of our favorite tips to make decluttering your home a little less overwhelming.
1. Start with a plan
As with all things, we recommend that before you even lift a finger to start decluttering your home, you create a plan.
We created this free worksheet to help you be strategic about the way you approach your decluttering project:
- Start by identifying every room in your home that needs your attention and brainstorm the problem areas that you need to address in each location.
- Then divide each room up into actionable and specific tasks (instead of “pick up the closet,” try more specific action items like, “sort clothes,” “build storage system,” “buy new hangers,” etc.).
- Next identify whose responsibility each task is — will it be one person’s job, or a team of people?
- Finally, create a timeline for completion of each room.
The timeline piece is super important — as tempting as it may be to have one massive day of deep cleaning, by dividing your tasks up across a period of time will allow you to avoid burning out and continue approaching the project with enthusiasm. Think about dividing your decluttering plan room by room, or category by category. Then allot one day (or even one week) to each section. (The Ink+Volt Planning Pad is a great tool to help you create a project planning timeline!)
2. Gather your supplies
Now that you have your plan and timeline in place, it’s time to gather your supplies. We always recommend making a list of everything you’ll need for the project before you start so you aren’t left elbows deep cleaning your bathtub only to realize that you don’t have the product you need.
Here are a few organizational tools that can help make decluttering — and staying organized! — a breeze:
- Desktop organizer: Keeping your workspace decluttered is just as important as the rest of the house. We love this adjustable desktop organizer that has a space for everything from file folders and notebooks to pens and pencils.
- Cord ribbons: Keep all your charging cables and headphones tidy with these twistable cord keepers.
- Pan rack: This shelf is a must have for your kitchen cabinets or countertops — it allows you to stack five pans vertically so you’ll always be able to find and grab the right pan on the first try.
- Lid organizer: Kiss your messy Tupperware cabinet goodbye with this organizer that features adjustable dividers so you can keep your reusable lids clutter free.
- Hanging shoe organizer: Free up tons of floor space with this highly reviewed over-the-door shoe organizer.
- Space-saving hangers: Each of these closet space savers can hold 5 hangers which means you’ll finally be able to see — and get to — all of the clothes in your closet at once.
3. Donate or recycle
It probably goes without saying that in the process of decluttering, you’re probably going to have a moment where you think something along the lines of, “Where did all this stuff come from?!”
Decluttering is a really great opportunity for you to streamline and get rid of things that you aren’t using. As you’re going from room to room, create a pile, bag, or box of the items that you might like to donate or recycle. Then take some time to identify a program or business in your community that might benefit from some of your donations.
It might sound counterintuitive, but getting rid of stuff actually feels good! There are a lot of benefits to minimizing your possessions, like greater peace of mind, the ability to focus less on material things and more on health and happiness, and a greater sense of freedom.
As you’re evaluating your belongings, here are a few questions you might ask yourself to determine if you really need to hang on to it, or if you can part with it:
- When was the last time I used/wore/noticed this?
- How often in the past year have I used/worn this?
- Do I feel a sense of attachment to this object?
- Would someone else make better use of this or enjoy this object more than I have?
4. Find a place for everything
Decluttering isn’t just about moving things out of sight, it’s about finding storage solutions that actually make sense.
Rather than throwing the clutter from your kitchen counters into a junk drawer or shoving clothes into a closed closet, try to identify systems that will help you to naturally prevent the clutter from ever happening again.
For example, if you are constantly dropping your bag and shoes by the front door instead of in the designated storage space that’s in another room, can you move it closer so you’ll be more naturally inclined to utilize it? Or if your clothes are never making it into the hamper that’s deep in the closet, can you put it in a place where it will be easier to access?
By giving your clutter a home instead of just moving it out of sight, you will be setting yourself up for longer-term success by making it easier to stay organized.
5. How to keep up with decluttering
You’re done cleaning and decluttering, your house feels amazing. It’s time to flop down on your bed and breathe a big sigh of relief. But how do you keep it that way?
Instead of letting things pile up for weeks at a time, try building decluttering into your regular, ongoing goals. As you’re setting your work and personal goals at the beginning of each week (in your planner or weekly organizer), think about one room in your home that might need a little attention and add one task to your list. It doesn’t need to be a massive undertaking — it can be as simple as organizing the shoe rack, or straightening up your home office.
Another great lifehack is to identify daily tasks that you can turn into habits — whether it’s wiping down the kitchen counters before going to bed, taking out the recycling as soon as it’s full, or putting dirty clothes *in* the hamper instead of a pile.
We love using the Progress Pad to help track habit-building like this! The pad offers a seven-day log that you can use to track everything from the routine to-dos to new and more challenging activities, behaviors, or practices you want to establish and strengthen, or stop. Set a goal for the beginning of the week, like putting your keys on the key rack every single day, and check off the box each time you successfully complete it. Holding yourself accountable with a checklist like this is a really great way to turn the behaviors you want to start (or stop!) into long-term habits that become second nature.
If you’re still feeling lost, we also have a free 30-day home organization challenge that we created in partnership with home organization expert Shira Gill. Each day throughout the month, Shira created one simple task that you can do in 15 minutes or less to help you get a little bit closer to being clutter free.
By the end of the month, you’ll have tackled everything from your closet, game room, and your water bottle collection to the apps on your phone, your email inbox, and your car’s glove compartment.