The word declutter is weird to me, so I had to look up the definition. The definition of decluttering is ‘to remove unnecessary items from an untidy or overcrowded place.’
Decluttering is super popular but it’s also a natural part of organizing. I prefer to declutter as I organize which I realize goes against the grain of decluttering gurus but hear me out.
Many people may need to start the whole process of creating a more restful space by working on small bits of decluttering. I’m not one of them. I’m more of a clean sweep type that works best by completely clearing a space, cleaning it to the nth degree, and only putting back the items we want to keep. It’s how my brain works and how I’ve kept an organized home for many years.
Don’t get me wrong, I get rid of things, but I’ve never considered those things to be clutter. Just stuff we no longer use or want. The things we have chosen to bring into our home don’t deserve the negative connotation of ‘clutter.’ They were once functional and wanted and can now move on to another house where they can be appreciated again.
If you are feeling the pressure to take on a decluttering challenge, here are a few decluttering tips you should pay attention to.
1. Don’t declutter just to declutter.
The decluttering professionals may encourage you to fill a bag daily or to declutter just seven items a day for a week. They may even provide lists of things you should declutter from each space in your home.
Because you want that picture-perfect home and think professionals have all the answers to get you there, if you follow their advice, you may end up getting rid of things you shouldn’t have. It could be that you don’t need to declutter THAT much, and following that advice will leave you stressed and with nothing left.
It all depends on your lifestyle and how you choose to live.
In our young married years, an elderly lady came to our home and mentioned our lack of furniture. We had the basics of a couch and chairs but chose not to have end tables or even a coffee table. She then asked if we liked it that way, to which I replied, ‘yes!’ emphatically. We’ve never been big on filling our spaces with furniture and knick-knacks because it’s just more to clean and take care of.
2. Know who you are and what you value.
Just because I live a simple life doesn’t mean you have to.
If you value your collection of porcelain dolls and have a curio cabinet full of them that you enjoy looking at every day, don’t let someone tell you they are nothing more than dust collectors.
If you are confident in your values and who you are, you will be comfortable keeping the things you love and less likely to give into the latest trends of getting rid of stuff for that magazine-worthy room.
3. Don’t follow others’ decluttering guidelines to a fault.
You are a unique individual and decluttering guidelines are just that. Guidelines are general rules you can bend to work for you and your lifestyle.
If you follow another person’s guidelines without wavering, you may be full of regret the next time you look for something you have gotten rid of.
It also could be that your home doesn’t fit the definition of cluttered. We all have some clutter, but it may not be to the point where your home would be considered untidy or overcrowded. In that case, getting rid of a bag of items every day for a week wouldn’t be the best option for you. Adjust the guidelines to your situation.
Another piece of advice I hear often is the 20/20 rule. This rule states that if you can replace an item for under $20 in under 20 minutes (by ordering on Amazon), you should get rid of it. If it’s an item you never use, I think that’s good advice. However, if you might use the things and have the space to store them in an organized way, I would keep them to save money in the future. I’m kind of frugal that way!
4. Consider your decluttering style.
You may do your best by going through every room, throwing away all the garbage, and then removing items you no longer want before finally organizing each space. That’s completely fine! It’s just like cleaning. Some prefer to dust every room and then do all the floors at once. Others prefer to work one room at a time.
If I’ve learned anything at all, one of the best lessons in life is that there is more than one way to do things. The way that works best for you is the right way! It’s the way that allows you to complete a task and feel joyous and fulfilled.
For me, it works best to work one room at a time. I clear a space, clean it thoroughly, and then put only the things I want to keep back into it. If I went into my closet to declutter, I would be lost. I have to move and touch each thing to determine whether I want to keep it. I have to clean and organize each space to decide if things are worthy of the fresh, newly organized space.
5. Have a reason to get organized and get rid of things (declutter).
There’s no better motivation to get organized and get rid of things than an event that would make it worth doing. A garage sale, moving, guests, and a party are all great motivators to clear your space and get organized.
When your home feels overwhelming but you lack the motivation to do anything about it, plan an event that will motivate you to take action. Multiple events throughout the year are a great way to help you keep your home in shape and ready for anything!
We host an annual garage sale which is a great motivator to go through things, get organized, and get rid of stuff. It also is an excellent way to look at your things as merchandise and decide if the money you would make for an item at a garage sale is worth more to you than keeping it for future use.
A while back, we moved from a house to a small apartment while we waited to find the next home we wanted to buy. We rented the smallest storage unit for things we didn’t want to replace, like lawn equipment and other essentials to owning a home, and then hosted a moving sale where we sold everything that we didn’t want to take to the apartment with us or that just wouldn’t fit.
We even sold living room furniture on Facebook Marketplace since our apartment didn’t have a formal living room, and we didn’t want to pay to store it.
Moving was a great motivator to get rid of things because we didn’t want to PAY to store items and only wanted to move things we wanted to keep.