Decluttering can seem overwhelming, but we've got the tips to help you get the job done.
If you find yourself avoiding the task, just remember, decluttering benefits you—and your family—in important ways. As Elbert says, “Decluttering, in combination with creating easy-to-maintain systems, is a great way to turn your home into the sanctuary you and your family deserve.”
Tips for Decluttering Success
Giving your whole house an overhaul in one day can be overwhelming, so start with these tips to get in the groove.
Start by organizing out the small stuff.
If you are overwhelmed by the entire house, tackle one space at a time, suggests Jane Stoller, professional organizer and author of Decluttering for Dummies. For example, attack the kitchen junk drawer or an unruly closet. Alternatively, choose one category—papers, sweaters, or that Tupperware collection.
Time your decluttering mission.
“Set a timer for 15 minutes and see how much you can accomplish,” says Marty Basher, home organization expert for Modular Closets, who finds that 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time to bring order to a bathroom cabinet or a heaping pile of mail. Elsa Elbert, professional organizer and owner of Composed Living, says other easy-to-tackle spots are sock drawers and kids’ dressers, along with shelves of expired food in the pantry.
Start with non-sentimental items.
Going through the kids’ artwork or baby clothes can be hard because of all the emotions attached, so begin your decluttering with items that aren’t laden with sentiment, Basher says.
Choose a place to donate your things.
“Every time you find anything you don’t love or no longer use, immediately place it in the donation station,” Elbert says. Put an appointment on your calendar to drop things off monthly (or less frequently, depending on how much it piles up), Basher suggests. “If you want to make a little extra money, sell your items on eBay or your local Facebook marketplace,” he suggests.
Declutter by room.
Divvying up the task makes it far more manageable. Once you’ve selected a room, be prepared to go through and categorize items into piles for toss, donate/sell, and keep, Basher says. Make sure to put an organizational system in place so closets and tables don’t revert to their pre-decluttering look. “The key is to make sure everything has a place or a ‘home,’” he adds.
You don't need to keep every keepsake.
Consider having a curated—not comprehensive—collection of your little ones’ arts-and-crafts projects. “For your own personal memorabilia and those of your kids, sort through your keepsakes and think hard about their importance,” Basher says. “Only keep items that you feel will be important to look back at years from now, or ones to share with your kids.”