So it’s the new year. That wonderful, magical time when it seems like anything is possible over the next 365 days. Here’s the good news… I am here to tell you that it’s true. Anything is possible… but only if you want it enough!
You may be looking around your house, your apartment or your condo and are completely frustrated with how much crap you have accumulated. You say to yourself “I don’t want another year of having to search for my keys every morning. I don’t want another year of piles and piles of mail strewn all over the kitchen counters. And I don’t want another year of living with all this clutter.”
I totally get where you are coming from. I use to be the same way. They say that insanity is the act of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Are you a little bit insane when it comes to the state of your home? If so, 2017 can be the year you break the cycle. If you aren’t feeling peace and calm and serenity in your home, it’s time to make a change.
Now this change doesn’t need to be drastic. You don’t have to declutter each and every room in your house in a week (but you could if you really wanted too). You do though need to try something new to get different results. This can be done slowly or fast or whatever works best for you. The most important thing is that you don’t give up. You don’t lose site of the goals you want to accomplish. And that you remember that 2017 is the year you finally get your home and life under control. I don’t care if you are a scatterbrain, a perfectionist or somewhere in-between – everyone can enjoy a clutter-free, calm household. I double pinky-swear! And The Decluttering Queen will help you get started!
Step 1. Create a Declutter Mission Statement
The first step is easy and one that can be accomplished today! I want you to take a few moments to think about why you want to declutter. What do you want your home to look like? What crap (both physically and metaphorically) do you want to get rid of? Write a two to three sentence mission statement on why you want to declutter. The statement can be simple, it can be poetic, it can be whatever you want it to be.
When I started the decluttering process, my first mission statement was: “I want to declutter my home so that I can enjoy more peace and serenity and to pursue my passions more fully.”
Once you have your mission statement written, put it somewhere you will see it everyday. It could be stuck to your fridge, on your bathroom mirror or, like me, used as your laptop screensaver. It’s up to you but make sure to write it out so you can reference back to it later.
Step 2: Brainstorm What Kind of Crap You Have
We all have our own trouble spots. Those areas of our living space that drive. us. crazy! It could be the overstuffed kitchen, the playroom that is always a disaster or a filing system that entails throwing everything into a box and dealing with it “later”. Write down the crap you want to deal with during the declutter process. Your list can be a million things or just three – it depends on your circumstance. But don’t leave anything off. Even if you think you could never tackle “ABC” put it on the list. Remember, I told you anything is possible!
Here is a sample list:
Overstuffed bedroom closet
Too many magazines
Ineffective way of storing winter coats, hats, mittens, etc
Baby gear I no longer use taking up basement space
Cars that can’t be parked in the garage
No good way to keep track of appointments and important dates
Disorganized digital photos
No good filing system
Too many toys that the kids don’t play with
Keep going with your ideas until you have every little thing off your mind. You feel better already, right? Keep this list handy going forward so you have a reminder of what crap you want to get rid of!
Step 3: Pick a Declutter Process that Works for You
Now you are onto that exciting time when you get to choose what the declutter process will look like. I can tell you from experience that each person’s plan will look different. What works for me may be boring and tedious for you and vice versa. You want to consider your personality, your goals (Remember when we wrote our “crap we want to get rid of list” and mission statement?), your family life, your schedule, and other factors that may affect to the process. Someone moving in a month may need to work a little more quickly than a person looking to just make more space.
Here are some styles of decluttering that could work for you:
The Get ‘Er Done approach – I want my house in order today. I will take vacation days, clear my schedule, enlist the help of others to get through every space as quickly as possible.
The Slow & Steady approach – I am busy or get overwhelmed easily. I want to take my time and declutter things as they come. 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there. I will work slow and steady to accomplish my goals.
The Type A Personality approach – I thrive off setting goals and meeting deadlines. I would enjoy a clear timeline in which I will tackle each space. I will work diligently to get those areas done in the time allotted.
The Free Spirit approach – I get stifled when there is too much structure. I will hop from space to space depending on my mood. Sometimes I will go fast, sometimes slow but I will enjoy the process as I go.
The I Need Professional Help approach – I love doing things with others and sometimes need that positive encouragement. I always want someone else to handle all the details so I can just follow along. I would work best by partnering with a professional organizer to help me accomplish my goals.
Is the approach that’s right for you clear or are you a mixture of a few of them? Most people don’t fit into any one category and that’s ok. The point here is to recognize that there are different ways to accomplish the same thing. Choosing a style (or mixture of styles) that works with both your personality and lifestyle will give you the best shot at success!
Step 4: Get to Work
Now’s the exciting part…. you actually get to put into action all your great plans. While for most this can also be a scary time, it doesn’t have to be. The best way to jump in is to start with an easy project. Something you can accomplish quickly while still getting that feeling of progress and sense of satisfaction. You may want to begin in a small area such as a coat closet or even a junk drawer. If you are a little more ambitious try a guest bathroom or dining room. The goal here is to start working your decluttering muscles making them stronger for the tough stuff down the road. Remember you need to crawl before you can walk.
For a simple how-to on decluttering, check out my step-by-step guide. Although based on a closet declutter, it’s principles can be applied to any project. Once you have your first “declutter project” under your belt, celebrate your accomplishment, pat yourself on the back and move on because you have great things ahead. Next I suggest trying an entire room such as a kitchen or bedroom. Try to stay away from projects that are very time-intensive and overwhelming. Your decluttering muscles may not be strong enough yet.
Step 5: Keep Going
Keep going through the process of picking your next task, completing it and choosing another one until you are happy with your progress. Not everyone will be tackling their entire house and you don’t have to either. You may just have a few trouble areas to focus on or just simply don’t mind a couple catch-all rooms lingering in the background. Just remember to do what is right with your soul. If a space or area of your life is continually making you unhappy that should be a clear sign you need to make a change. Remember that whole insanity thing?
Step 6: Maintain, don’t Gain
Congrats – you have done the tough work. You have accomplished your mission. Now what? If you don’t have good habits in place to keep up your spaces, you will soon see the clutter creep back. It will happen… I can even attest to that. Stay on top of things by treating the act of clearing clutter like you would any other chore. Just like sweeping the floors and cleaning the bathrooms, you need to regularly hit those “hot spots” that seem to attract your crap. For me those areas are the toys and my craft space. For you it could be the dining room table, the car or even your bedroom closet floor.
Step 7: Create a Drop-Zone Area
I would highly suggest making one, central “drop zone” for your house. A bucket, a basket, a place where you can put things that need to be dealt with on a daily basis. Bills, library books, hair bows, all those little things should be put in there until you have time to put them away. They don’t go on the kitchen counter, the coffee table or the chair – the only place for them is in the drop zone. Before going to bed, return all the drop zone items to their “homes” throughout the house. Better yet, enlist the help of the entire family to make quick work of the job. It also might help them think twice before they take things out in the first place.
I hope this guide helps get some of that crap out of your house! Whether you have toy crap, paper crap, or just a lot of crap in general taking the declutter process seriously will help you enjoy a more relaxed, stress-free home.