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My Process for How to Declutter Your Home

how to declutter

Purging your stuff is the essential first step to getting organized. The truth is, you can't get your home under control if you have too much. No matter how thoughtfully you rearrange things or how many cute containers you buy, you will struggle to stay organized if you have more stuff than will reasonably fit in your space.

When I work with clients one-on-one this is the process that I use to help them decide what to keep and what to part with. After six years of doing this with people going through all different life transitions, I can tell you it works! If you’re tackling a bigger area like a basement or garage recognize it will likely take more than one session. Get out your calendar and make some appointments with yourself to do the work, and start with sessions of 1-2 hours to avoid getting overwhelmed.

Before you start, clear some space in the room for five sorting categories:

1. Keep

2. Rehome

3. Sell

4. Donate

5. Trash

These are all pretty self-explanatory with the exception of Rehome. As you go through your belongings you will find things that don't belong in the area where you are working. Putting them away in their proper location can distract you from the job at hand, so instead keep a box or basket nearby to toss them into. When your purging session is complete, take a few minutes to relocate those things to their proper places.

The five sorting categories are hierarchical in terms of how much commitment and effort they require: the higher they are on the list, the more of your space, time, and energy will need to be spent on them. Keep this in mind as you start sorting.

Now pick a place to begin – it really doesn't matter where – and start placing items one by one into the five categories. Try to keep the process moving and don't spend too much time debating about each item. If you are struggling to make a decision about whether or not to keep an item ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this bring me joy?

  • Does this bring value to my life?

  • Have I used this in the last year?

  • Would I buy this again if I saw it in a store today?

  • If I had to downsize my home by half, would this make the cut?

  • How many of this item do I own?

  • Do I have a place for this?

  • Do I want my family to have to deal with this when I'm gone?

If you have a Sell pile, take another look at those items and ask yourself:

  • How much money am I likely to get for this? Give yourself a minimum amount per item to justify the effort involved in selling it.

  • Is that amount worth my time and effort? Calculate how much you’re likely to make per hour of effort.

  • Will I have time to sell everything here in the next month? Or set your own timeframe.

Get your Donate and Trash items out as soon as possible: bag them up and take them to your car or to the curb. Seeing space opening up in your home is a great motivation to continue purging! Also, if you let them sit, you're more likely to change your mind about parting with them.

If you found these tips helpful be sure to subscribe to the Pretty Neat weekly email! You'll get a short and sweet message each week with my best advice for a more organized and beautiful home. Click here to sign up, and you'll also receive my FREE guide: How to Get Rid of Your Toughest Clutter!

Make it fab!


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