Inside: Overwhelmed by all the clutter? I’ve been there. Read to learn the easiest decluttering method to help you get rid of clutter and create a home you love.
When I started getting rid of clutter, I searched high and low for a decluttering method that would work for me. I read all the books, read tons of blogs and watched countless videos.
While some articles were inspiring and made me feel like I could declutter my home quickly, honestly, none of their decluttering methods worked.
Maybe you’re like me, friend. You’ve done the research, you’ve tried different methods to declutter, and yet every single time, you fail.
The good news is it’s not your fault. Most decluttering methods fail to address some the vital reasons people accumulate clutter in the first place. They teach you how to treat the symptoms of clutter, but not the cause.
In this post, I’m going to share with you the decluttering method I used to change my hoarderish habits and create a home I love.
I believe 100% that you can do the same. If you have an emotional attachment to clutter and you feel overwhelmed, you’re in the right place.
You’re capable of decluttering your home, and I’m going to give you the tools to be successful.
The Easiest Decluttering Method When You’re Drowning in Clutter
What Is Your Dream for the Space?
This is something that most decluttering methods fail to cover. They just jump right into the strategy with out even talking about why they’re doing it in the first place.
This is the old “father knows best” mentality, which says that a figure of authority or an expert knows more about your life than you do.
I’m going to call bs on that.
Because you are the only person who knows what’s best for your life. Sure, you can gather input from outside sources, but in the end, you’re the best person to make the decision.
So rather than jumping straight into decluttering because some decluttering method says so, let’s take a step back.
Why Do You Want to Declutter?
What made you decide to come to the internet in search of information about decluttering methods?
Maybe it’s because you’re sick of searching for your keys, not having the space to cook or stepping on tiny toys in the middle of the night.
Five years ago, I decided I was done with my hoarderish ways when I walked by a hoarder home and realized I was on that path.
And I’ll be honest with you, my house now is not usually social-media worthy. We have two small kids and two aging dogs.
But I didn’t declutter so that I could impress all my friends or an unexpected guest.
I decluttered so I could play on the floor with my kids, build a business that had been a desire for years, and spend less time cleaning (even though I have a cleaner house).
It’s important to figure out why you want to declutter. You know why?
Because decluttering is hard stinkin’ work.
I know there are other websites that tell you you can declutter house in 30 days, but I’m here to tell you it’s not that easy.
Because you’re changing years or decades of habits and that takes time.
Take a Moment to Dream
Lay on the couch or in your bed and dream a little bit. What would you do with a less cluttered home?
Would you volunteer for the PTA or bake cookies with your kids? Start a business or visit with friends more often? Maybe you’d host a party or a church small group at your house.
Take a few minutes to dream. No judgement, not editing. Just dreaming.
Once you have a dream so clear, you feel the excitement bubbling up inside of you, then you know you’re ready to move on to the rest of this decluttering method.
Check it out: Here are 4 reasons the KonMari Method doesn’t work.
Brain Dump Everything You Want to Do to Make Your Dream Possible
With your dream in mind, grab a piece of paper or a digital note pad and list out everything you would like to do to make this dream possible.
Let’s say your dream is to bake cookies with your kids. Every time you’re inspired to do that, it takes you an hour to clean up the kitchen or while you’re rolling the dough, your kid’s reaching for a pile of dirty dishes…
Frustrating, to say the least. It may even be so frustrating that you don’t even try.
Here’s what you might write down to make this dream possible:
- Go through pantry and throw out expired items.
- Clean and put away dirty dishes.
- Throw out any trash sitting on counter.
- Take things that don’t belong in the kitchen back to where they belong.
- Declutter cabinet with plates, bowls and cups to make room for the dishes we actually use.
- Find a place for small appliances to go so they’re not cluttering up the counter.
When you’re writing out your list, don’t judge the ideas or try to prioritize. The goal is to get everything out on paper.
The Power of Getting Thoughts Out on Paper
I have a theory, which is not backed by any science, just my own personal experience.
My theory is that your brain can only hold a few thoughts in the forefront, say 3-5. And these urgent thoughts will just circle around, not letting you think of anything else.
So when you’re thinking about what you need to get at the grocery store, spirit day is Tuesday and you have to get a card for your Mom’s birthday, you’re blocking any other thoughts from surfacing.
Those thoughts are so important, you don’t want to forget them. So you just keep thinking them over…and over…and over.
When you write those thoughts down on paper, everything changes. You’re giving those thoughts a place to stay, while allowing your brain to think of other things.
And odds are, once you write every thing down, it becomes pretty obvious what the best next step is.
In the case of clearing space to bake cookies, your first thought might be to go through and clear out expired items in the pantry, because that’s what you notice every time you go to bake.
But once you write all your thoughts down, you realize that it would be far more valuable to spend time finding a spot for small appliances that is not on your countertop.
You’ve acknowledged the thought, you’ve given it space to live, but now you can move past it to find what task will make the most difference with the least amount of effort.
Pick One Task
You’re a dreamer. You have grandios visions of things you could do with your house and you get so excited, the dream keeps getting bigger and bigger.
My husband and I used to have the same spiraling conversation. It would start with a comment about how small our kitchen sink was.
It was so small, it was difficult to wash a spaghetti pot in, and we’d often end up splashing water all over the counter.
So, one of us would make the comment about replacing the sink. But it felt like if we were going to replace the sink, we mind as well replace the faucet.
And the countertop was pretty old, so we should replace that. And the bottom cabinets were broken and mostly unusable, so we should also replace that.
If we’re going to replace the cabinets, we should also get rid of the old blue linoleum floor.
And before we knew it, we had spiraled into a $20-30k, a sum neither of us was willing to pay. And so, the old sink that was too shallow to wash a spaghetti pot stayed.
Instead of letting your dreams grow out of control and being pararlyzed in overwhelm, do this.
Pick one task. Only one.
Look at your list of all the things you’d like to do and pick the one that will give you the most benefit with the least amount of work.
I know it’s hard to pick just one thing to work on, but you’ll see much more progress this way. And when you see progress, you’re motivated to keep taking steps.
Consistent steps, no matter how little, will result in epic progress.
You’ll see more progress decluttering for 15 minutes every day (or most days) for a whole year than if you work for 3 hours on a Saturday but then give up before you finish.
Break It Down…And Then Break It Down Again.
Once you’ve picked your one task, grab another sheet of paper.
On this paper, break the big task into smaller tasks. Break those tasks down until each item on your list takes no more than 15 minutes to do.
In the example above of baking cookies with your kids, we determined that the one task that would make the most difference with the lease amount of time was to find a spot for small appliances.
By removing the small appliances from the countertop, this will instantly give you more room to bake.
Let’s take the big task of moving the small appliances and break it down into small tasks that take no more than 15 minutes to complete.
Remove small appliances from countertop:
- Find a place for the blender to go.
- Pick the cabinet.
- Throw out any trash in the cabinet.
- Remove anything that doesn’t belong in the cabinet.
- Pick 4 cups to get rid of to create space for the blender.
It can be stinkin’ hard to force yourself to spend an entire day decluttering or to declutter after a long, exhausting day.
Instead, break tasks down until they are so small they seem so easy you can’t say no.
You may be able to procrastinate “declutter the kitchen” for weeks, months, or years. That’s because it’s a big overwhelming project.
But a small, tiny task like “Pick a cabinet for the blender to go in” makes it so easy it’s hard to put it off, even if you’re exhausted.