The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Decluttering


If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the clutter in your home but just don’t know where to start, read on for great tips and strategies on decluttering your home!

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I was spending so much time organizing and trying to maintain a tidy house that I had little time for anything else. I found I was stressed and angry most of the time, which I really hated!

I decided I had to take control of my life and my first step was to declutter, minimize, and organize my house!! So far, the effects have been absolutely amazing and I feel so much better and more in control than ever! I would love it if you joined me on my journey, too!

Related: How To Organize Your Life and Stop The Overwhelm

WHAT IS CLUTTER?

Clutter is simply an accumulation of stuff that doesn’t belong in the space or in our home altogether. Clutter is also a sign of life changes and anything that has thrown your life off balance.

For me, it was the overwhelm of having three kids with complex needs and having no routines and habits in place. We accumulated a substantial amount of nonessential items that just ended up cluttering up our entire home.

All of this can be managed by decluttering, which simply means to sort through all of your stuff and choose what you will keep and what you will let go of, and getting your life back on track with routines and habits.

Related: How To Organize Your Life and Stop The Overwhelm

An example of a routine would be putting the dishwasher on at night and unloading it in the morning. The dirty dishes can then be loaded directly into the dishwasher throughout the day to avoid a huge pile of dirty dishes on the counter and in the kitchen sink.

HOW DID MY HOME BECOME SO CLUTTERED?

1. Lack of routines and habits. That could look like having a set evening cleaning routine, putting things away in a timely manner, etc.

2. No home for your items (or not everyone knows where the home is).

3. Indecisive Action. Sometimes it's just not knowing where to start, where its home should be, or deciding if it's even something you actually want to keep. Take action!

4. Too Busy. The truth is, you don't have time NOT to declutter. This is where organizing your life (i.e. goal setting and setting schedules) will help you learn to spend your time purposefully!

    You need to have an understanding of why your home became so cluttered in the first place and what is standing in your way in order to push past it.

    What are your top 3 reasons to declutter? What are some things that are standing in your way and how can you push past them?

    For me, it was the addition of our third child that just seemed to push us over the edge. With very little time to take care of the house, it slowly over time became too much to bear.

    Related: How to Plan Your Goals and Live Your Best Life

    WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DECLUTTERING?

    Some of the many benefits of decluttering include:

    1. Increases productivity. When your environment is tidy and clean, there is less chaos and will help you be more productive. You will be able to focus on the important things in your life.

    2. Reduces stress & anxiety. When you are surrounded by clutter, it can have a huge effect on our mood and intensify other negative emotions. By removing the clutter from our home, it will greatly reduce stress & anxiety. You will best appreciate your home when it's a sanctuary for you.

    What do you need to do to make your home a sanctuary, a place where you can relax?

    3. Cleaner home. A decluttered home is much easier to clean.

    4. More time.  You will be spending less time looking for lost items, tripping over the clutter, organizing your stuff, moving all of your stuff around to clean - you get the picture. A decluttered home frees up your time so you can live and enjoy your life.

    5. Saves you money. Speaking of lost items, if you can't find a misplaced item you might buy a duplicate. A decluttered home also makes it difficult to find bills leading to late payments, additional fees, etc. Consider setting up automatic payments for bills.

    6. Improves relationships. Family and friends can often feel the negative effects of a cluttered home, and this can affect your desire to invite anyone over. 


    HOW DO I START DECLUTTERING?

    1. PLAN
    Look at the bigger picture and create a plan for your home. Visualize how you want your home to look and feel so you can create the type of home environment you want to live in.

    2. CHOOSE
    Choose your decluttering method. You can choose to declutter using the KonMari Method/Categories, one room at a time, mini decluttering sessions...it’s totally up to you. Choose a clutter hot spot in your house (kitchen counters, office desk, junk drawer, etc.) or a whole room!

    3. SCHEDULE
    Create a schedule. Print out a calendar and schedule just 15, 30, or 60+ minutes a day for 30 days and you will see progress.

    When will you start/complete your decluttering? Grab the checklist and place it somewhere you will see it regularly every day for the next 30 days. This is a great way to track your progress!

    4. PREPARE
    Set yourself up for success from the beginning by preparing and having everything you will need on hand! Gather five boxes to contain your items while sorting and stick the organizing labels to the boxes.

      1. Keep
      2. Sort
      3. Donate/Consign
      4. Garbage
      5. Recycling

    My secret weapon is a sort box. When I am decluttering an area and I come across things that don't belong there, I pop them in the box and sort it later. My goal is always to organize the space I am working on and not get distracted (see #8).

    Other items you may need include:

    • Cleaning spray
    • Rags
    • Gloves
    • Timer
    • Notepad and pen (for jotting down ideas for organizing, items that need replaced, etc.)

    5. START SMALL
    If you are feeling overwhelmed tackling a house full of stuff, you are not alone! My biggest tip for dealing with the overwhelm is to start with the smallest room that will provide almost instant gratification - the bathroom! Seeing quick progress will help motivate you to keep going!

    6. LOVE IT
    Sort through all of your belongings and make sure that the stuff you choose to keep is stuff you really love and is useful. By choosing to be selective about what you keep, you will have only the best of the best in your home.

    Be sure to read Marie Kondo's books where she elaborates on this >> The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up & Spark Joy. She also has a show out on Netflix, which I binge-watched! Things really clicked for me after watching her show.

    7. CLEAN
    Clean as you go! Remove everything from the area you are working on and give it a good clean. If you are planning on selling or donating, it's easy to clean the items before tossing them into your box. I found that my large bag of toys I decluttered sat in my garage for months waiting to be cleaned and took up a lot of space. So now I clean as I declutter.

    8. DO NOT GET DISTRACTED
    It's hard when you are going through everything, especially sentimental items, and you're tempted to read that old diary or letter or go through all of those old photos, but don't. Just try to get through your allotted time and set these aside for another time. 

    9. ORGANIZE LATER
    I have to admit being an organizer this one was hard for me! But it really made all the difference! I never would have finished decluttering if I organized as I went! Though I do admit if it was a simple bathroom drawer, I just had to do it right away!

    10. GET IT OUT
    Once you decide you no longer need an item, get it out of the house as fast as possible! This is especially true if you have young kids and are decluttering their toys.

    If your kids are anything like mine, they will somehow find the giveaway bag and next thing you know they are all "favorite" toys!

    If you choose to sell your items, set a time limit and if they haven't sold before your time limit, just donate it. You've already spent the money and enjoyed the item, so sometimes it's just best to let it go and move on.

    11. CONTROL THE PAPER
    Create a system to organize all of the papers that come into your home! Have an area dedicated to your papers and set aside some time at the end of the week or end of each month to go through your papers. Consider scanning and saving your papers digitally.

    Check out 26 Positive Affirmations for Moms That Can Change Your Life for some inspiration!


    AREAS TO DECLUTTER AND ORGANIZE
    ✔ Bathroom
    ✔ Kitchen
    ✔ Dining Room
    ✔ Bedroom
    ✔ Wardrobe
    ✔ Office
    ✔ Laundry
    ✔ Living Room
    ✔ Family Room
    ✔ Playroom
    ✔ Linen Closet
    ✔ Cleaning Supplies
    ✔ Entryway - shoes, coats, seasonal items
    ✔ Accessories
    ✔ Purse/Wallet
    ✔ Pet Items
    ✔ Travel Items
    ✔ Holiday Decor
    ✔ Storage
    ✔ Garage
    ✔ Vehicles
    ✔ Outside - don't forget to declutter the shed, too!
    ✔ Digital decluttering (email, social media, paper files to digital files, computer files)
    ✔ Apps & Photos on Phone
    ✔ Paper & Receipts
    ✔ Sentimental Items & Photographs
    ✔ Finances
    ✔ Daily routines

    Related: 8 Steps to Organizing Your Finances

    HOW CAN I MAINTAIN MY CLUTTER-FREE HOME?
    1. CREATE HABITS
    For example, putting things away right away.

    2. CREATE ROUTINES
    For example, create a simple evening cleaning routine, do a load of laundry every day, etc.
    I think twice before making any purchase and I ask myself if it really belongs in our house. Do I really love this? Do I need this? What purpose will this serve? Does it fit with my decor? If the answer is no, put it down and walk away!

    4. DONATION BOX
    We have a donation box in our closet specifically for items we come across that we find we no longer need. This is delivered to the donation centre frequently.

    5. EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE
    Have a home for everything! This is KEY to keeping organized, especially if you have kids and all of the toys that come with them!

    One of the big organizational projects I tackled was my son's Lego collection. Together with my son, we came up with the perfect organizing solution. This included a detailed Q&A with him to figure out how he likes to play with his Lego. He really loved the whole process! See how we organized his Lego collection.

    Celebrate your newly decluttered home and treat yourself today to some new wall art to decorate your home! Check out our shop for beautiful, one-of-a-kind wall art and organizational printables!
    Decorate your home with original wall art!

    What is your biggest decluttering obstacle? I'd love to help!

    Don't forget to pin this post on Pinterest! Thanks!

    The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Decluttering Your Home


    Tips to Help Declutter, Minimize, and Organize Your Life by Ellabella Designs



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