Lately I’ve been in a huge spring cleaning/decluttering/home projects mood. I have a long running list of to-do’s in the Notes app of my phone that I shared with my husband and we’ve both been working on checking things off whenever we get the chance. We’ve donated countless carloads of things to the thrift stores, sold larger items and furniture that weren’t being used or were no longer needed, and cleaned out closets, boxes, bedrooms, and the garage. While we’ve accomplished a lot, I’ve come to find that decluttering is an ongoing necessity, which is why we nearly always have a box or bag laying around for items to be donated. Even still, it seems like our home is in a constant state of entropy, so I went looking for tips on how to declutter spaces and keep them that way, which I’ve shared below.
- Start with several boxes or bags, label them “trash,” “donate,” “keep,” and even “maybe”. Take them into the room or space which you will be decluttering and start going through things. Trash goes in the trash, items that are usable but unused go in the donate pile, things to keep but which are in the wrong place go in keep, and anything you can’t quite decide about goes into maybe. This system allows you to quickly declutter a space without needing to deal with each item in the moment as you go. When you finish that space, you can take the whole box of keep items and put them in their rightful places, or find a place for them. The maybe pile prevents you from spending too much time trying to decide on things – I’ve found that if you can set it aside for a bit, it’s often much easier to make the choice once you are in a different frame of mind – or once you you’ve seen just how many similar items you have!
- Set a timer. Decluttering can be overwhelming. If you find yourself dreading the project or facing executive dysfunction when it comes to getting started, setting a timer can be helpful. Give yourself 15 or 20 minutes, or however much time you have, so that you know there is an end in sight and can focus more easily during that time.
- Turn on some music, a podcast, or an audiobook. My favorite hack for productivity is to have a good audiobook to listen to. It keeps me focused while my mind is occupied and prevents me from burning out as quickly. I use the Audible app but also use Libby, which is a free app that allows you to access audiobooks and e-books if you have a library card.
- Keep an ongoing donation box. I mentioned before that I always have a box or bag laying around for things that we come across that need to be donated. This is a great way to keep the decluttering process going instead of waiting for your annual spring cleaning, or waiting for the mood to strike. Once it’s full, just put it in the car and drop it by the thrift store so things don’t pile up.
- Start small. Beginning with a small space like a single shelf, drawer, or closet can be a great place to start without getting overwhelmed or burning out. Once you see the progress made in that small space and get the momentum going, it gets easier to keep going.
Maybe these tips will give you the push you need to get started. Share your favorite decluttering tips with us below!