Whether you're new to decluttering, feeling overwhelmed by a vast amount of possessions or lacking enthusiasm for clearing a neglected space, sometimes it's hard to know where to start with clutter. I've decluttered a lot in the last few years after downsizing our family home and also helping my parents clear two homes of our deceased relatives (both bachelors). I've learnt that decluttering requires a lot of motivation, stamina and vision. The process is never easy but you do learn new tricks with every session.
Now after a decluttering hiatus I'm ready to tackle two clutter hotspots in our home, our loft/attic area and our bedroom. This quick start guide is a much needed motivational guide for me. I hope you find it useful too.
1. Hire a skip if necessary. It may seem extravagant but having a skip to hand can save you invaluable time and effort. If you have less stuff to declutter keep a bag or box handy and fill it gradually as you come across unwanted items. Take it to the charity shop when full or leave outside your house if there is a door to door collection.
2. Support one particular charity. You will feel attached to the cause instead of attached to your old possessions. Picking a charity shop that is near to you with good access and convenient opening hours will make dropping off your donations easier. Sign up to Gift Aid to increase the benefit of your donation and so that the charity can inform you of how much money has been raised from your items. Receiving emails indicating the value of my latest donation always thrills me and makes my decluttering feel even more worthwhile.
3. Start with the easy stuff first. Let go of things that are broken or damaged, don't fit or no longer suit your taste. Gather like items together to make sorting easier.
4. Set a time limit to suit you. Short bursts of decluttering can be more effective than decluttering for a whole day. If you choose to work for a few hours at decluttering, schedule in a break or two. Remember to allow time to clear away afterwards and possibly vacuum the area you've been working on at the end of your session.
5. Don't aim to completely declutter an area in one go. Instead aim to reduce the clutter by a certain amount, say half.
6. Have a goal in mind. Imagine eventually being able to turn the room into a pleasant and functional space. Imagine never having to declutter this space again (difficult if there are children involved).
7. Don't feel guilty about donating unwanted gifts – charity shops are full of them! It's your decision what you do with your gifts. Surely it's better that they go to someone who appreciates them rather than they slowly gather dust in your home.
8. Accept that decluttering is emotionally draining and some possessions are harder to let go of. It's natural to find it difficult to make decisions over some possessions. Have a maybe box for items you are unsure of. Leave these items for a period of time and come back to them when you've had more time to consider their worth.
9. Be systematic and keep focused. Work on a single area in one session and deal with each item separately. Sort items into keep, bin, donate/sell, relocate or put in a maybe box.
10. Reward yourself afterwards with a relaxing activity or outing. Show off your hard work to someone appreciative and lap up the praise. Decluttering is hard work but you are on your way to becoming a master.
Now, let the decluttering begin!