Figuring out how to declutter your home can be surprisingly challenging. Many people are motivated by the idea, only to become overwhelmed when the time comes to take action. As a result, they never actually starting decluttering.
Does that mean it’s not possible to determine how to declutter your home with minimal stress? Not necessarily. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here’s what you need to know.
Can You Declutter Your Home Without Too Much Stress?
Yes, it’s completely possible to declutter a house without dealing with too much pressure or anxiety. Often, much of what makes the task difficult is how overwhelming it can seem.
Clutter makes any space look overrun, and you may assume that tackling it will be incredibly cumbersome. However, the situation usually isn’t as bad as it initially appears.
The most important thing you’ll need to do to declutter your home with minimal stress is to develop a system and adopt the right mindset. Decluttering is a journey; it’s a series of little successes that result in an organized, clutter-free space. When you approach it with that in mind, it becomes much easier to manage.
Tips for Decluttering Your Home with Minimal Stress
Don’t Try to Tackle It All at Once
First, understand that trying to figure out how to declutter your house in one day isn’t practical. Unless you live in a studio apartment, getting through every space will take a little time. Trying to make it happen in just 24 hours is asking a lot and will certainly make the experience more stressful.
Instead, try to set a reasonable goal that lets you declutter small areas over the course of several weeks or months. This could mean setting aside 30 minutes a day, two hours every Saturday, or something similar. That way, you won’t feel rushed or under too much pressure.
Using a Six-Box System
One of the simplest ways to declutter effectively is with a six-box system. This lets you sort everything in one area – like a single closet, drawer, counter, or room – into functional categories.
Usually, you’ll want boxes for each of the following purposes:
Decluttering is typically easier if you physically handle every item and determine which box fits it best. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to declutter your closet, how to declutter your kitchen, how to declutter before a move, or anything else, this allows you to empty an area completely. Not only does it give you a chance to clean surfaces along the way, but it also ensures you make a choice about everything you own along the way.
Additionally, it gives you a way to collect donatable items and garage or online sale-worthy goods, as well as items that need a little work before they find their home. As a bonus, when you’re done, getting rid of the garbage and recyclables will also be a breeze, as they’re all contained.
Decide Where to Start Decluttering
One of the hardest parts of figuring out how to declutter your home is deciding where to begin. However, you can use your priorities or frustrations as a guide.
For example, if walking into your home office isn’t a pleasure because it’s overrun with stuff, then you might want to declutter your home office first. If finding items in your kitchen drawers takes longer than you feel it should, leaving you frustrated when you cook each night, then maybe your kitchen should get your attention first.
You also don’t have to start by picking an entire room. Even a single shelf, drawer, or counter can be enough in the beginning.
If you really can’t choose, then you can start organically. Make sure your sorting boxes are in an easy-to-reach spot. Then, when your eye happens to notice something that belongs in any of the boxes aside from the “keep” one, put it there. That might help you get some momentum, making it easier to focus moving forward.
Gather Some Decluttering Tools
In many cases, there are a few items you’re going to want readily available when decluttering. First, you’ll need those six boxes, giving you a place to sort your stuff as you declutter your bedroom, office, living spaces, and everywhere else. If you’re going to do a one-year test, make sure you have extra boxes, as well as a pen or other method for labeling them.
When it comes to how to declutter paperwork, you may need file folders, a document scanner, and a shredder nearby. For closets, toys, or drawers, you might need storage bins or organizers, making it easier to find a home for what you’re keeping.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on containers before you start decluttering. It’s usually best to work with what you have first and, if you genuinely don’t have the right option for the job when you’re done, only get a new item then.
Take the Right Approach for Each Situation
In many cases, there are two main approaches to decluttering a space. First, you can take every item, one by one, and place it in a box as you empty the area. Then, when you’re done, you put the “keep” items in their permanent home.
Second, you can empty an entire area – like a shelf, drawer, closet, or room (minus the furniture) – and then make choices about the item’s destiny from there. This can be easier if you know that all of the keep items will go back into that specific space, as you’ll be putting them away as you make decisions.
Which approach is right is largely due to preference. Pick the option that feels best to you, and take it from there.
Make It Fun
Can figuring out how to declutter your house be fun? Yes, it actually can. The trick is to find a way to imbue some joy into the experience, effectively turning it into a kind of entertainment.
For example, creating a decluttering playlist can help you enjoy some great music while you tackle each area. You could also use the time to catch up on podcasts or listen to an audiobook. That way, you’re doing something you like while you declutter your life.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Sometimes, we hold onto items because they have sentimental value. It isn’t necessarily about the item itself. Instead, it’s the memory of a person, place, or moment that makes letting go of something difficult.
If you are decluttering your house and find yourself struggling to get rid of something because of its sentimental value, it’s okay to acknowledge those feelings. But you don’t just want to focus on the emotion; you also want to consider why you feel so strongly about the item. Often, this can help bring clarity about whether it’s the item itself that you’re attached to or the meaning behind it.
Do you have to get rid of everything with sentimental value but no other purpose in your life? No, you don’t. If you truly love the item for what it represents, you can find a place for it, and if you don’t have another item that captures that same feeling, keep it.
Decluttering shouldn’t make you miserable or resentful; it should make you relieved. So, feel free to keep a few things for their sentimental value if you have the room.
When in Doubt, Do the One-Year Test
If you aren’t sure whether letting go of a particular item is a good idea because you think you may need it, try the one-year test. Take the object and put it in a box. Write today’s date on the box, as well as a list of any items in it, and then store it out of sight.
If you need to use the item, retrieve it from the box and find it a home after using it. Any items that you don’t pull out to use within one year usually aren’t needed, and you can donate, sell, recycle, or toss them with confidence at that point.
You can use a similar approach if you’re struggling to figure out how to declutter clothes. For example, you can remove all of the clothing you hang up from your closet. Then, put it back with the hanger facing the wrong way.
If you wear an item within a year, hang it up with the hanger pointed in the corrected direction after you wash it. After one year, take all of the clothing that’s sitting on a hanger facing the wrong direction and donate, sell, or throw it away.