Are you drowning in clutter and don’t know where to start? There are so many decluttering projects to do that you can spend your whole life trying to decide where to start. (Kind of like spending the whole evening trying to figure out what to watch on TV.)
Decluttering can be overwhelming, especially if it’s the first time you’re attempting it. You dream of having a clean and tidy house, but there’s just so much stuff lying between your reality and your dream.
So where should you start decluttering? In this post, I’ll walk you through the quick steps to beat overwhelm and get started on your decluttering journey.
Where should I start decluttering?
Decluttering is a journey.
First, let’s talk about what decluttering is not. It’s not a weekend project. It’s not a thing you can tackle once and never have to do again.
Decluttering is a journey. Just as plans for rapid weight loss often end in gaining the weight back (sometimes even more!), plans for decluttering in a rapid amount of time often end with a cluttered house. Why?
Being tidy is a habit.
Maintaining a neat and tidy space comes from the development of good habits. The good news? Anyone can learn to keep their space neat and tidy. The bad news? It doesn’t happen overnight.
Start with quick wins.
If your garage is packed floor to ceiling with boxes, that’s not the place to start. You know those boxes and boxes of photos and mementos you’ve been meaning to go through (and maybe even make a scrapbook)? Yeah, also not the place to start.
You want to look around your house to find the tiniest, easiest decluttering project you can find. What is the one area that only needs an hour or two of work to freshen up?
It could be your guest room or a drawer in the bathroom. It could be your car or a quick discard/donation of toys you know for sure your kids aren’t playing with. Whatever it is, pick an area that would make a noticeable difference with the least amount of time.
Starting with quick wins can motivate you to move forward to slightly bigger wins, then even bigger wins. Set yourself up for success by first choosing the tiny decluttering projects that are so easy it’s difficult to lose.
Focus on progress, not perfection.
Just the other night, I was obsessing over all of the things that need to get done in our house and my husband repeated one of my favorite sayings: “Focus on progress, not perfection.” Frustrating when he used it on me when I was in a bad mood, but he was so right.
So often, we judge ourselves for not measuring up to some impossible standard and neglect to see all the progress we make from year to year.
Depending on where you are in your decluttering journey, you might have to remind yourself to focus on progress not perfection several times. Perfection doesn’t exist, so that’s not our goal here. Our goal is to focus on making progress and making tiny steps towards our goal of a neat, decluttered, and functional house.
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A quick word on getting stuck: Don’t spend more time deciding what to work on than the time that it would actually take to do it. Be the boss, make an executive decision and get to work.
It might help you to make a short list of three to five tiny decluttering projects and pick the one that feels most exciting to you. You might be more motivated to throw the old magazines away and clear off your bedside table (which bothers you every day) than to throw away the broken outdoor furniture clogging up your deck (which you don’t give a second thought to).
What is your quick win?
If you don’t have a quick win in mind, take a few moments to quickly run around the house and find a project that is small and manageable. Don’t get distracted by the “Ooh, shiny” of the decluttering world: seeing a project and remembering “Oh yeah, I was going to get around to that.”
Focus on picking a small win then schedule a time to take action. If it’s something simple like throwing out some trash, you might decide to do it right away. However, you might be in the middle of a hectic week and decide to schedule it for next Tuesday when you have a little bit of a lull. It’s okay to schedule for the future, just make sure you do it when the time arrives.
You can do this, Mama! Remember that decluttering is not an event, but a journey. By picking one small project at a time and tackling it, you will see progress!
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