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We know that physical clutter is mental clutter, and the state of our home affects not only our mental health but the health of our family as well.
Most of us would agree that we want to simplify our homes, and organize the possessions we have in a way that better suits our day-to-day lives.
But the decluttering process and the organization that follows are often a completely overwhelming endeavor.
However, with a little forethought and preparation, you can set yourself up for success and truly simplify your home, and your life!
Here are 8 basic tips for decluttering your home that will help you simplify your house.
8 Basic Tips for Decluttering Your Home | How to Simplify Your House
1. Be prepared.
This is a multi-faceted tip, so we’re going to break it down. Being prepared for the process of decluttering your home involves several things.
- You need enough uninterrupted time to devote to the process.
- You need the right mindset: simplifying is GOOD and needed. You’re about to simplify your home and your LIFE.
- You need the right environment; you need to be rested, focused, in a good mood, and preferably have good music to pump you up.
- You need to have the necessary supplies: garbage bags and boxes to collect trash to throw away, and corral items to donate.
2. Tackle one space at a time.
You can’t do it all at once, and even if you tried, that’s a quick way to kill your motivation and make you want to quit.
Instead, take things one step at a time, and make progress, little by little.
Good places to start are your closet, the bathroom, or the kitchen.
And if you feel really overwhelmed, pick one dresser or even just ONE DRAWER and begin.
3. TAKE EVERYTHING OUT FIRST.
Whenever I used to go through my closet, I would look through my drawers or the clothes in my closet, looking for things to get rid of. I would usually end up finding a few things that I didn’t really like or didn’t wear anymore and I’d call it a day.
Then, I heard the recommendation to take everything out of whatever you’re working on (your dresser drawer, kitchen pantry or master closet etc) and begin there.
Next, you decide what to keep.
You’re no longer looking for the few items you don’t like anymore and pulling those out to donate.
Instead, you’re looking at every single thing you took out and only deciding what to keep.
Different methods use different criteria to determine what to keep, but the gist is either you need/use the item, or you love it. That’s it. You only keep what you regularly use or what you absolutely love.
Anything with ANY type of obligation or guilt associated with it gets donated. (“So and so gave it to me, I don’t really like it or won’t ever wear it, but I feel bad because it was a gift” etc etc etc.) Someone else will love and use it! Donate it and bless someone else!
4. Put the things you want to keep back.
At this point, don’t worry about your spaces being perfectly organized or spotless. You can come back and clean or tidy up later.
5. Continue on in another space.
Repeat this process in every area of your house.
Remember, take everything out first, and then decide what you want to keep. As Emily Ley says in A Simplified Life, “be ruthless.” Keep only the best, the deeply meaningful, and what you regularly use.
6. Take breaks if needed, but don’t give up!
Don’t lose your momentum. Keep going! And don’t overthink it!
7. Use an “Undecided” box to defer tough decisions for later.
When in doubt about an item, put it in a special “undecided” box.
When you’re done with your decluttering process, look through it again and discard anything that is a donate item.
Then, put the box with the remaining items away in the basement. If you haven’t opened the box to pull anything out in 6 months, the stuff inside isn’t THAT important and can now be donated.
8. Clean and tidy up, and have fun arranging the remaining items in your house!
Once the decluttering process is over, you can take your time deciding how to organize all of the stuff that is left in your home.
You’re now left with the best of the best and the absolutely necessary, so you should have a lot more room to work with. Have fun and enjoy the fruits of your simplifying labor!
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The decluttering and simplifying process is mentally and physically taxing, and can be difficult to start, and even harder to finish.
By using these 8 tips for decluttering your home, you can set yourself up for success and make the whole process a little easier!
P.S. If you want to follow along with Up North Parent and this simplicity project, AND if you’d like to share your own progress with us, use the hashtag #UpNoPaSimplify on social media! We can’t wait to see the progress you’re making!
P.P.S. We’ve mentioned it a few times and we’ll continue to talk more about it but we are drawing a ton of inspiration and motivation for this series from Emily Ley’s new book, A Simplified Life. I bought a copy for myself and then promptly bought copies for some of the important women in my life (Becky included), and it’s been a driving force of motivation ever since. We truly recommend it! Becky also read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and she LOVED it. It’s on my spring reading list!
Laura is a motherhood blogger and photographer from the Brainerd Lakes Area in Minnesota. Her mission is to seek joy in the midst of motherhood, and encourage other mamas to do the same. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Matt, a mama to their firstborn son, Raleigh, and a dog-mama to their feisty 6lb toy poodle, Remy. She spends her days chasing after them, while daydreaming about naps, crafts, and donuts with sprinkles. She writes at www.lauraradniecki.com.
I agree – Emily’s book is wonderful! I’m also a Marie Kondo fan. It was actually her book that encouraged me to quit putting it off and just dive in! A decision I haven’t regretted!!!
Becky loved Marie Kondo’s book too, so it’s on my must-read list! I decided I’ll read it in April when I’m gearing up for a big spring cleaning purge again! Thanks for reading, Holly!
Mary Ellen says
Thank you so much for this inspiring post. I found it when I was at my lowest, looking at 40 plus years of decluttering. I absolutely cry when I look at the overwhelming amount of “stuff”. The decision to begin and not stop came when my Son whispered that our attic looks like a “ h___der” lives here. I die a little each and every time I look at the thousands and thousands of dollars I have wasted over the years.
Thanking you & all those who contribute to helping people like me journey to a simplified life.
I hear ya Mary Ellen! I have moments of lamenting about money wasted. But with age comes wisdom and we have to go through the fire to be able to gain wisdom and pass it on. Life is funny that way 🙂
Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says
Mary Ellen, when my sister and I were going through our mother’s things after she died, shaking our heads over the thousands and thousands of dollars she’d wasted over the years buying all that “stuff,” much of it never used or worn, we decided to focus instead on how so many other people were now going to be able to afford and enjoy the things when we donated them to our favorite local charity shop. Just thought that might help you put a positive spin on your decluttering process; you’ll need the positivity to energize you for the work.
That’s a great way to look at it, Jean! Plus, it’s even more of a blessing to whoever will get it from the charity shop if it’s never been worn or used before! I completely identify with the grief (it is a form of grief, I think!) in thinking how much money I wasted on things (clothes in particular) but it’s also a huge motivator to change my habits and make different choices in the future. Thanks for sharing your insight!
Great tips! Doing a little bit at a time, and sticking to a schedule makes a big difference! 🙂
Thanks, Jamie! Yes, most of the time, life might not allow for an all weekend decluttering frenzy. When that’s the case, little by little progress adds up! The key is not to lose momentum. Great idea on sticking to a predetermined schedule!
Love the tips. It really is easiest to take everything out so you can see exactly what you have and you can determine where to start. Congrats, you’re featured at the This Is How We Roll Link Party.
Thanks so much, Susan! We appreciate the feature so much, and we hope these tips help a lot of people declutter and simplify! And you’re completely right on taking everything out! It’s the best way!!
Dane Henshall says
Hi – Need some advice – First, love the tips. I agree with the approach of choosing what you want to keep. I, however, get stuck on the step between #4 and #5- what if the item I want/need to keep doesn’t belong where I got it from, but some “homes” haven’t been identified?
Hi Dane! Thanks for reading and commenting! When I declutter, I try to think of general uses for things and I’ll bring them into the space where they make the most sense. If it’s an item I can wear, it will come into my bedroom/closet. In the decluttering process, I don’t worry too much yet about finding a home for things because it is easy to get bogged down trying to find the perfect home, like you are discovering. If you initially just bring the items to the area where they will likely “live”, like the bathroom or your bedroom for example, when you’re done decluttering, you can work on finding the perfect home for the items that don’t have one. If it’s a decor piece that you love but you’re not sure where you’ll hang/display it yet, that’s ok! Just set it somewhere for now, maybe on a shelf that you can organize or decorate later, when you’re done with the decluttering process. It’s also important in the whole decluttering process not to overthink things too much. If I start to overthink things, I start to lose my motivation and forward motion, and then things stall out. I try as much as possible to move fast and go with my initial reactions. If I start thinking too long, I can talk myself into keeping just about everything haha!