1. TAKE AWAY TIME PRESSURE
Before you begin, it’s important to understand a successful decluttering session does not mean getting the whole house done in one go. It takes time to build up clutter, many years in most cases, so it’s not something you're going to be able to sort overnight. By rushing decisions you’re more likely to experience declutter regret, so avoid setting yourself too strict a timeline.
2. MAKE PEACE WITH LETTING GO
Whether it’s an heirloom coat (that you’re never going to wear), a cherished toy (that’s no longer played with) or a box of memorabilia (that you never look at), certain items can hold emotional significance which make them much trickier to part with. In order to let go of them successfully, and without too much turmoil, it’s important you make peace with letting go in advance of decluttering. ‘Keep in mind that your home is not a museum and memories are not in physical objects, so you should be able to remove them from your home without feeling guilty’, say the decluttering experts at The Classy Home. A successful decluttering session doesn’t mean getting rid of absolutely everything, but it’s important you set some boundaries to ensure you make headway; one box of sentimental items only, for example. If you’re short on storage space or you're decluttering to move, consider taking a photograph of the object, instead. That way you can be reminded of it and the memories it evokes without having to actually keep it.
3. GATHER THE RIGHT GEAR
The last thing you want is to run out of trash bags when you’re mid-declutter, so ensure you’ve got everything you need to hand before you begin. We’d recommend strong bags for obvious rubbish, then at least three boxes marked up with their purpose; ‘keep’, ‘sell’, ‘donate’ etc. When decluttering paperwork, have a shredder to hand, as well as a file folder (like this expandable version from Target) so you can file important documents straight away.
4. HAVE A GOAL IN MIND
As well as putting in the practical prep work, take some time to think about what you might gain from a successful decluttering session. ‘Perhaps you want to free up some space, or make your home easier to keep clean and tidy? Or maybe you’re ready to let go of sentimental items, in readiness for a fresh start? Whatever your motivations, a clear goal can drive you through the process, setting you up for success from the very start’, says Jennifer
5. START WITH THE AREAS THAT BOTHER YOU THE MOST
Think about which cluttered areas of your home cause you the most conflict. If you feel stressed as soon as you walk through the front door, maybe decluttering your entryway is a good starting point. Or if you’re struggling to switch off at night, perhaps decluttering your bedroom will help you to relax and improve your sleep. Targeting areas where you’ll see a difference quickly provides an instant sense of relief and achievement, which should spur you on to declutter elsewhere, too.
6. TAKE THE DECISION OUT OF THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS
Indecision is what usually holds us back from successful decluttering, so set yourself some rules in advance. Is it broken? Does it still fit? Will you use it again? If the answer is no, get rid – no exceptions. Employing the 20/20 decluttering rule is a handy hack, and setting a timer usually helps, too.
7. MAKE SURE YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT FRAME OF MIND
‘Starting with a positive mindset is really important. Keep in mind that it’s okay not to do it all, or get things perfect straight away. Visualizing how you’ll feel after decluttering a room can really help as well. Once you’ve achieved it, give yourself a pat on the back and note that buzz of satisfaction’, says professional life coach Ari Shaffer.
8. DON’T TRY AND TACKLE TOO MUCH AT ONCE
Deciding that you need to get on top of clutter is the first step, and the main thing is that you make a start. It doesn’t have to be big, just a bag or a drawer will do to begin with, and could help you build your momentum. ‘Give yourself a fifteen-minute time limit and once it’s done, reward yourself with something you like to do. The more you do this, the more you’ll start associating decluttering with positive thoughts and feelings’, says organizing expert and author Kathryn Lord, founder of More To Organizing.