Is Mess Causing You Stress? Learn How to Declutter Your Home

how to declutter your home

It’s easy to allow your home to become overwhelmed with stuff. People’s houses become cluttered for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re reluctant to give away that vase that Aunt Susie gave you for Christmas five years ago even though you’ve never used it. Or perhaps you’re too nostalgic to dispose of any of your teenage children’s artwork from ages 2 and on. You may just be too busy to go through that raft of papers sitting on your kitchen counter. Either way, there’s no doubt that an overly messy house is problematic. 

Too much clutter can cause anxiety and affect your ability to focus. It can also be bad for your health as excess stuff can be a fire hazard or collect dust, exacerbating allergies and asthma. Want to know how to declutter your home? Read on for some helpful tips! 

how to declutter your home

What are the steps to decluttering? 

When it comes to organizing and eliminating extraneous stuff, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some helpful steps: 

STEP 1: Set a goal: Decluttering takes a lot of energy and you need some momentum. Find your motivation to do the hard work. Maybe you’ll promise yourself you can buy that new sofa you’ve been eyeing. Or perhaps entering a pristine home after a long workday is motivation enough. Either way, once you figure out what inspires you, it will be much easier to get started.

STEP 2: Schedule it: This might be easier said than done since your house might have become inundated with stuff because you have no time. But remember that it’s much easier to keep your home decluttered once you have a clean slate. Choose a date (depending on the size of your home, you may have to choose more than one day), mark it on the calendar, and make sure everyone in your family knows they’re expected to participate. Alternatively, set aside one hour a day for several days. Choose a decluttering schedule that will fit into your family’s life. 

STEP 3: Treat it like an appointment: Whatever you do, don’t let anything interfere! 

STEP 4: Decide where to start: Choose a room or zone in your home, such as the dining/kitchen area or bathrooms and go through every drawer. 

STEP 5: Donate, keep, sell, or throw away:  Designate four containers and sort items into one of the four.   

STEP 6: Organize: Purchase any containers you might need to facilitate your organization.

What should I declutter first? 

When it comes to how to declutter your home, many people want to know where to start. The answer is, it depends. Some experts suggest starting with your entryway because they can collect a lot of stuff, such as shoes and school-related detritus. Others say to begin in the area where you spend the most time, such as your family room or great room. 

Others say to start in the bathroom. Why? Because bathrooms are usually small, easier to tackle, and there are typically no sentimental items in there, it’s easier to make decisions. It is much simpler to throw away expired cosmetics and medications than it is to decide whether to keep or trash the sweater your grandmother knitted for you that you never wear. You should be able to declutter your bathroom quickly, affording you a sense of accomplishment and momentum to move on to the next space!

How do you declutter when overwhelmed?

As the old Nike ads said, the first step is to just do it. Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds. So here are some tips: 

  1. Marking the dates on your calendar that you will tackle the project and sticking to them is the first step. 
  2. Start small and permit yourself to complete the process in several days. 
  3. Focus on one room at a time instead of thinking about the whole house.
  4. The best way to prevent clutter from overtaking your home is by keeping on top of it. If you simplify your routines and include tidying as part of your day every day, you won’t have to undertake a huge project nearly as often.

Why is decluttering so hard? 

Decluttering is an emotional issue as much as it is a physical one. It is not unusual to become attached to your stuff. Possessions can be inextricably linked to certain times in our lives, emotions, or people. 

Some people feel like it's wasteful to dispose of things, even if they’re sitting in a drawer and not being used.  Just because a shirt cost you $100 doesn’t mean you need to keep it. Chalk it up to an impulse buy that didn’t work out and move on. 

Or, you might feel guilty if it’s something that was given to you. The best advice? Just let it go. Your possessions are not who you are. They are still just things. And by getting rid of what you don’t need or want, you will free up more space in your mind and life for more important pursuits. 

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