How To Declutter Your Home: A Life-Changing Guide

Table of Contents

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“New Year, New Me!”

That is what I imagine my apartment tells itself every January, after I finished my annual declutter, purge, and reorganize spree. And,

“I need to stop collecting so much stuff!”

Is what I tell myself every January.

Because it’s all fine and well decluttering your home, but if you have to keep doing it, then something’s missing.

I know I’m not alone – but this year is going to be different. You and I are going into it with a plan!

How To Declutter Your Home

notebook that says "action plan" sitting on a white desk, how to declutter your home

Step 1 – Create a decluttering plan

The first thing you want to do if you’re going to declutter is to create a decluttering plan.

If you’ve ever dived in and got one corner of a room tidy and clear, and ran out of steam before dealing with the piles stacked in the other corner of the room, you’ll appreciate this step!

You need to set goals, schedule everything, and get yourself straight on what you’re going to tackle first.

And importantly – you need to learn how to let go as you move forward with the plan.

Set Goals

The first step in your plan is to set goals for decluttering. Set timeline goals for each room.

You may not be able to do everything you want right away, because you may not have the time or the budget.

Decluttering does not have to all be done in one day! In fact, spreading it out can make it less overwhelming.

A good rule of thumb, for example, is ‘don’t move on to another room or area until the first one is finished’.

Remember To Dispose Hazardous Materials Properly

For an in-depth look at how to purge, recycle, or upcycle electronics (and other hazardous items), take a look at this post.

Create a Realistic Schedule

Get out your calendar and write in exactly what you’ll do during the day and time that you’ve set aside. The schedule is the most important thing because it’s what’s going to keep you at this long-term so that you can genuinely get control of your clutter and improve your life.

Don’t overschedule yourself. If your schedule only allows 30 minutes a day devoted to decluttering, that’s how it is.

a very neat and organized drawer

One Space at a Time

When you create your schedule don’t pick more than you can really do. Choose just one room or one space to work on at a time.

Maybe all you have time to do on Saturday afternoon is to clear out the kitchen drawers. That’s okay. Being realistic about your plan is vital to experiencing success with it.

Set Up a Temporary Junk Space

Since this is going to take a while, you want to choose a place right now to put out four boxes that are labeled: Trash, keep, donate, sell.

You need a place to keep these boxes while you’re going through the decluttering process.

Let Go Mentally

When you tackle a room, you have to let go, mentally, of the value. Allow yourself to forget about the money you’ve spent – that is in the past.

Get the Right Storage Tools

If something is important to you, then it’s important enough to store it in a way that makes it more usable and taken care of.

You likely have storage tools around your home you can use already, but if you need more – start making a list so you can purchase these when your budget allows.

Step 2 -Keep the Clutter Away

Once you clear out the clutter, it’s not over. Now you need to work hard to keep the clutter away. It’s easy to let go and start building up clutter again.

Create Rules

It might seem odd to need to set up rules for yourself when you’re a grown adult, but it actually makes life much easier.

Creating rules that you turn into habits will get more done than willpower. Think about how far you’ve come and how you don’t want to go back.

Rules such as “one in two out”, “clean up right away”, and “everything has a home”, will go far in ensuring your success.

Handle Mail Once

Set up a mail station either in your home office or near a garbage can with a shredder. Look at the mail and handle once.

Toss the trash and open bills. Organize the area for easy payment and processing in your filing system. Do it right away, and don’t let the mail pile up.

If you have a big enough mailbox, and it’s not in your door, you can check your mail less often too so that you don’t have to deal with it as much.

close up shot of an espresso machine pouring out espresso

Set Up Stations

For everything you usually do each day, create a designated place to do it in.

For example, if you drink coffee daily, create a coffee station that houses mugs, teaspoons, coffee, and your coffee machine. That way all the things you need are right there, and you don’t have to take them out or make the effort to put them away.

Create a Sanctuary

Your home and especially your bedroom is supposed to be a safe place for you. Creating a sanctuary out of your bedroom, a “spa” out of your bathroom, and a cozy, comfy reading and movie area out of your living room is a great way to view your home so that you use each space as well as possible.

Develop Clean Habits

Develop habits and keeping your home clutter-free will become much easier. Develop the habit of cleaning up the kitchen after you eat. Make it a habit to take your water bottle out of your car. These types of habits help ensure your space stays uncluttered.

a woman using a spray cleaner to clean countertop

Schedule All Cleaning

The best way to get more things done in life is to put it in your calendar.

Schedule daily cleaning, monthly cleaning, quarterly cleaning, and yearly cleaning. For example, you need to change your air conditioner filter at the minimum of every 90 days. Schedule it. Remember to give yourself enough time for each task you put in your calendar.

Develop Clutter-Free Habits

Now that you’ve cleared out a lot of unnecessary items, inventory and organize what you have. Get rid of things the moment you don’t need them (donate or sell as much as possible, rather than tossing it), and stop buying things without a plan for its use.  

The one thing you’re going to learn with decluttering is how the small actions really make a big difference. You’ll realize that you have more control over your environment. It may just be decluttering your physical environment, but it’s also freeing you up mentally for success in every aspect of your life.

Don’t Give Up

One of the most important things to remember is that this is a process. It may take a few missteps before you get it right. Once you do, it will make your life much better overall.

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