10 Ironclad Tips to Help You Get Started Decluttering

Inside: If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of decluttering, this list of tips will help you get unstuck. These decluttering strategies will help you take your first step and get started decluttering your home.

It surprised me again. How long had it been since I heard that once familiar sound? It snuck up on me, but I definitely heard a Robin happily chirping outside. The warm sun was pouring through the window and I was reminded that the winter would end soon. Spring would be here before I knew it. My heart lightened in anticipation.
Spring is one of the times when I am very motivated to get the house in order. That means decluttering, getting organized, and cleaning. It’s almost as natural as the Robin returning year after year.
But there are many times throughout the year when I struggle with motivation to clean. I know there’s work to be done and I’ll feel better when it’s complete, but oh the struggle to get started.
In these cases, I need a compelling reason to get started. Once I get started, it’s like a snowball effect. I make a little progress and get the itch to do more.
Do you struggle with how to get started decluttering? Check out these 10 actionable tips to help you get going.

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Woman starting to declutter her home with text 10 Ironclad Tips to help you get started decluttering.

1. Start with something easy

One of the biggest motivators is having a sense of accomplishment. Make a shortlist of your top 3-5 areas you want to declutter. Identify the easiest item on the list, hopefully, something that will only take an hour or less. If all your decluttering projects are on a larger scale, break them down into smaller parts. For example, instead of saying “declutter the kitchen.” List it as “declutter the junk drawer in the kitchen”.
To get started decluttering pick the easiest thing on your list, set the time for an hour, and get started. What you’ll find is, once you do something that’s important to you and that’s easy, you’ll be motivated to continue.

2. Start with a visible high traffic area

It’s one thing to declutter your chest of drawers, but if you don’t go there very often, you may forget the satisfaction you get when it’s clean and organized. By decluttering a high traffic area first you’ll see it frequently and reinforce the positive feelings associated with it. This will help you feel motivated to take on more decluttering projects in your home.

3. Reframe your thoughts

Decluttering can often be hard because it’s thought of as a chore. If you reframe your thoughts to focus on the benefits, it can be highly motivational.
So, how do you reframe your thoughts? There are a couple of ways. First, you can think about your vision for the space. Let’s say you have a room that isn’t currently used by your family and it’s become a bit of a catch-all. If you declutter and organize, you can use that space for some other purpose e.g. a craft room, office, or workout space.
Another way you can reframe is to list all the benefits you’ll experience by decluttering and getting organized. For example, if you decide to declutter your office papers, you’ll likely experience the following benefits. You’ll save time and frustration not having to look for items. You’ll no longer shuffle piles around. You’ll know where things are when you need them. The space will look neat and tidy.

4. Make it manageable…only commit to 30 minutes to an hour at a time

I hear from a lot of readers that you have difficulty getting started because it’s overwhelming. One way to resist feeling overwhelmed is to set time limits on your project. And like I mentioned in the first example, to break it down into smaller steps. So, set a timer for 30-60 minutes and declutter one thing at a time. Start with a drawer, a shelf, or a cabinet. Don’t tackle the entire space at once. If you need some ideas of where to get started decluttering, check out 15-minute decluttering tasks.

5. Declutter with a friend

As an extrovert, I’m very motivated to do things with others. This applies especially to anything hard e.g. exercising. Find a friend and commit with that partner what you want to do in a week’s time or a month. Set a deadline. If you want to make the deal even sweeter, determine a reward for when you finish the work. Like you’ll have a glass of wine together.

6. Do a garage sale so that you have a date to work towards

Externally imposed deadlines are another great motivator. Set a date for a garage sale or sign up to take part in a church or community sale. This date will help you be motivated to keep going and not give up on decluttering and getting things out of your house!

7. Invite people over

This is another magic bullet. If you’re like most, you probably want your home to look nice when you have people over. By inviting people over it will force you to pay more attention to the spaces you’ve been ignoring e.g. the mudroom, kitchen counter, pile of magazines in the living room.

Woman welcoming people to come inside her home after she got started decluttering.


8. Block out time on your calendar

Do you feel like something always comes up? It’s hard to get traction and make headway on your decluttering project? One of the challenges with decluttering is sticking with your personal commitment.
Make a promise to yourself and don’t break it. Block time out on your calendar to tackle your project. Think about it in advance. Look at the week ahead, consider your schedule and prior commitments. Then find the windows of time when you can work on your decluttering project. Commit to it like it’s an appointment with someone else.

9. Take a “Before” picture

This tip is helpful if you’re working on a space that needs a significant transformation. Take a before picture of the space. Think about your vision- what do you want this space to become, what challenges are you trying to address. Make note of them. Any time your motivation begins to slip, look at your before picture, and remind yourself of your vision.
Once you complete the space, take an “After” picture and save it to a folder of all your decluttering victories. As you do more, your folder will have increased testimonies to remind you that decluttering is doable and the sense of satisfaction you feel when it’s complete.

10. Have a plan to donate items

Last but not least, you may struggle with decluttering because you’re not sure where to donate the items. Some things are sentimental, like your great aunt’s china, and other things are like new, but you have no use for it. Make a list of the places where you could donate various items. Check out this post for a few ideas of place to donate.

Happy Home Happy Life

In a recent survey over 50% of my readers said the hardest part of a task is getting started. The reality is, we spend more time in our homes than anywhere else. And, by improving our homes we actually enjoy them more. The Happiness Research Institute did a study in 2018-2019 to look at the connection between happiness and home.
They found that “our homes are more important to our overall happiness than our income or jobs.”
Their report also shares that “73% of people who are happy at home are also happy in life.”

Lastly, their study found that

“Taking the time to improve our home

also has a positive impact on home happiness,

regardless of whether we enjoy the process itself.”

These 10 tips for helping you get started decluttering will help you improve your home and ultimately your happiness! Take a step now and determine the tips you’ll take and put in place this week!

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