It’s been said that there’s really only one way to do nothing, but many ways to do something. This might explain why we get stuck when trying to figure out where to start decluttering.

On one hand, decluttering is exciting. You’re going to get a bunch of space back, and that’s a good feeling – even if it hasn’t actually happened yet. On the other hand, it can be completely overwhelming. It’s a lot of work. It can feel overwhelming. And really, where do you start?

Since every decluttering journey begins with a single item, we have a few ideas to help you get started.

First, get your supplies together. A trash can and a donation box are very useful. A timer can also be useful. Whether this is the built-in timer on your smartphone or a cheap baking timer from Amazon, having an audible notification that you’ve hit a time-based goal can be very motivating – especially if you can see the countdown and you know how long you have left.

Second, pick a specific area. Trying to declutter your whole house, all at once, is a recipe for failure. If you make a little bit of progress in a specific area, that will give you a sense of accomplishment. Not sure which area to pick? Here are some ideas:

  • A closet. Most of us have a closet that could use some attention. Whether that’s your bedroom closet crammed full of old clothes, or a basement closet crammed full of sporting equipment, it’s a well-defined space – which makes it easy to do without getting sidetracked.
  • A drawer. Got a kitchen drawer stuffed full of kitchen tools and such? Or maybe it’s the “junk drawer” in your office or shop. Drawers are easy to pull out and dump on a clean, flat surface for quick and easy sorting. 
  • A shelf. Odds are good (and that’s bad!) that you have a number of flat surfaces with stuff piled on them. Pick a small flat surface, such as a shelf, and go through it.

If this is your first dip in the decluttering pool, also make sure to avoid any area that’s heavy on sentimental items. You’re going for a quick win, not a demotivational doom spiral.

Third, set yourself process-based goals. If you’re working on something larger like a closet, maybe you’ll tackle it for 30 minutes each evening. If you go longer, that’s fine – but don’t force yourself to do it all in one go. Or maybe you’ll do shoes one night, shirts the next night, and pants the next night. If you’re working on something smaller like a drawer, maybe you’re just going to allocate yourself an hour this coming weekend to go through it. 

Like many things, it doesn’t matter nearly as much where you start. What really matters is that you start. As the old proverb says, “the best way to eat an elephant is a bite at a time.”

And of course if you generate some huge piles of stuff that has to go, give us a call. We’re here to help!

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