This slow declutter method WORKS for taking charge of clutter! In this post we’ll talk about how to start decluttering when overwhelmed, purging house clutter in a no-stress way, and how to get into the decluttering mentality FAST.
The best part? With slow decluttering, there’s no “messy middle” when your house seems even more chaotic. Seriously, you really can declutter without making a mess.
This post is a starting point and one of my favorite decluttering tips. If you’re ready to really get moving NOW, read ‘Got Too Much Stuff? Here’s Your Step-by-Step Declutter Plan of Action‘ which has even more details.
Are You Overwhelmed With Too Much Stuff?
Are you ready for a good spring cleaning? Or you would be, except you’re looking around at all the piles of “stuff” that have accumulated and you’re so overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering that you can’t even THINK about deep cleaning.
Maybe you decide to ignore it.
Or you run out and buy some storage bins to hide the stuff. But maybe you don’t actually get the clutter into the bins, so they sit around empty and take up even more space.
Ouch. It’s painful to acknowledge, but it happens to many of us.
The #realtruth is that you cannot organize clutter. You must get rid of it.
I hear it every day: ‘My house is so cluttered I don’t know where to start.’ And I get it… I’ve been there!
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Negative Effects of Clutter
Did you know Americans who rent storage units spend an average of $1,000 every year to store their clutter? We also waste nearly an hour every day searching through clutter to find important items like keys, paperwork, etc.
Have you ever watched a show about hoarders? Homes destroyed, bank accounts demolished, sometimes relationships and lives irreparably damaged. Now that is some hard-core clutter, and I truly hope you never have to deal with anything that extreme. Still, it’s an example of what can happen if we were to let clutter take over. And judging by the number of professional organizers and clutter consultants, it happens far more often than we probably think.
Even if you are not to the “hoarding” point — and I really hope you aren’t — even a little clutter here and there makes life more difficult.
Break the Clutter Cycle Without Overwhelm
Obviously, to truly end the clutter problem, you need to stop bringing any extra stuff into your home. But say you can do that. How do you deal with everything you’ve already got?
Although I strongly believe in planning and completing most major projects in two weeks, decluttering is something that doesn’t always fit into that. I think you can declutter in parallel with other projects, because it’s something you can work on in just a few minutes a day. It doesn’t require hours of constant brain power or hard physical labor.
Certainly, there may be times when decluttering is more intense than others, but for the most part you can set aside ten minutes or so every day to work and then be done with it until the next day. Working in this way helps you build a long-term decluttering habit, rather than a quick purge that leaves you wondering whether or not you can maintain the clutter-free lifestyle.
The wins of daily slow decluttering are like resetting your brain with a positive “I can do this” attitude that will carry you through whatever else you need to do during the day. With consistent effort, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly slow decluttering makes a BIG difference in your home.
How to Begin the Slow Declutter
Understand that this is a long-term process. You won’t be finished in a week or two, but you WILL feel more confident in your abilities as you continue.
First, choose the room or area that means the most to you.
I recommend your bedroom if you need an oasis to escape to every evening.
Or, if you spend a lot of time frustrated by your food preparation efforts, begin in the kitchen. A cluttered kitchen is often the result of impulse “gadget” buys which we have no place to store and no actual need for. Get rid of the gadgets.
Ask yourself the tough questions and answer honestly and quickly. Is the item broken? Do you use the item often? If not, will something else do the job? Do you LOVE it? Does it fit you or your lifestyle? The slightest hesitation in answering means it needs to go!
Try something like “10 items a day” as a theme for your decluttering. 10 items a day may not sound like much, but it adds up to about 300 items a month. Do that for 6 months, and you will have eliminated nearly 2000 items from your home.
If you want to step it up just a bit, try “100 items in a week.”
You could also set your timer to declutter for 10 or 15 minutes a day, getting rid of as many things as possible in that time period. You may or may not choose to count the items. What’s most important is getting them out of your house.
Think in rounds. A slow declutter may take several rounds to finish. That’s okay. Do what you can, concentrating on removing what you can without creating a bigger mess. Eventually you’ll get through everything.
Be prepared. Have a trash bag and a donations box handy during each of your decluttering sessions. Deliver donations as soon as possible.
Related: Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley
Decluttering Obstacles to Avoid
Don’t shuffle the clutter. Don’t ever set anything aside to “think about later.” Once you’ve made a decision about an item, follow through.
Don’t assign monetary value to unused items. That kitchen gadget you spent $97 on last year and used once? Unless you are TRULY strapped for cash and can sell it IMMEDIATELY, just donate the thing, releasing the item and the guilt from your life.
Don’t get too ambitious. Whatever you do, don’t suddenly decide to declutter your entire walk-in master closet and pull everything out at once. Unless you have an entire day and a LOT of fortitude, at the end of the day you will find yourself either shoving everything off the bed onto the floor or throwing it all back into the closet and having it look even worse than when you began. Instead, go through only a few items until you reach your daily item or time goal.
Don’t declutter anyone else’s stuff. Toss it into a box or laundry basket and let them deal with it.
Don’t give up. You can do this!
You know you’re winning at decluttering when you reach the point where you begin donating your empty storage bins! When that happens, do a happy dance and celebrate the positive steps you’ve taken to Build Your Best Life!
Are you ready to begin a slow declutter? Join the private Your Decluttered Life Facebook Group for encouragement and regular group challenges. It’s a safe place to share your story and celebrate your success!
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