Do you have lots of clutter that you'd really like to get rid of?
Do you have lots of it and it totally overwhelms you?
Is your clutter everywhere, in the bedroom, living room, garage, basement, in the backyard, front yard and just thinking about it makes you tired?
Are you lost as to where you can even start digging?
Do you get distracted whenever you tried to declutter and start doing something else (and end up feeling bad)?
Do you always come up with an excuse when you plan a decluttering project?
And have you ever thought about why you haven't had any success with decluttering until now?
Have you ever run a marathon? If you have, do you remember how long it took you to prepare for the race? Maybe you've been a casual runner all your life, so it was just matter of you training more seriously.
But let's say you've hated running all your life, and now you suddenly have this strong desire to run a marathon. Where do you start?
Decluttering to some is like running a marathon. It's a major undertaking, and it's not something you do on a whim. You need to start small and with a plan.
So let me show you how you can successfully start your decluttering project. Are you ready?
1. Define what the successful outcome is
You want to declutter, but do you know why? What happens when you finish decluttering? Do you think that all of your troubles and worries would vanish when you get rid of clutter? Are you vaguely hoping that you will feel better and happier? How would you know when you've finished decluttering?
You have to come up with realistic and measurable goals.
What count as realistic goals? Here are some examples:
1. I am going to get rid of all the old furniture that is in the basement storage.
2. I am going to go through the garden shed and throw out, donate or sell anything that I haven't used in the past two years.
3. I am going to empty every drawer and cupboard in the kitchen and throw out, donate or sell anything that I haven't used in the past six months or any duplicate items.
4. I am going to go through all the boxes that I haven't opened since the last move seven years ago.
5. I am going to open all the unopened envelopes on the kitchen table, and either shred or organise the letters. Also, pay any unpaid bills. Sign up to receive e-bills instead. Also remove old newspapers, magazines, and other bits and pieces off the kitchen table. I am going to make sure that the kitchen table will be free of clutter from now on.
6. I am going to go through the medicine cabinet and purge any expired toiletries and medications.
7. I am going to pick up every single magazine in the house and bring them to the senior's centre.
You can have more than one goals, but let's start with only one or two to begin. Having too many goals would be overwhelming, and that's what we are trying to avoid here.
2. Think about how your life would change after you've finished decluttering.
What would you expect to happen after you've completed a few of your decluttering goals? Do you think you will experience some relief? Would it have a positive effect such as more ease to pick up the outfit in the morning?
How about after you've finished 50% of all of your decluttering goals? Do you expect a significant change in how you operate the day-to-day business? Do you think your stress level will go down? Would you have an easier time keeping your place clean and organised?
And what about after you've finished all of your goals? You may not need all of the basement space. You could renovate it and make it into a separate apartment and rent it out for extra income. Or post your place on Airbnb and host people from all over the world?
Or you could sell your place, move to a smaller place and retire early with the money you made.
Let your imagination go wild and think of fun things you can do with your newly decluttered home.
3. Make a plan on how to achieve the outcome you've defined
Next, you are going to plan how to achieve your goal(s).
Come up with a reasonable timeline to reach your goal by breaking it down into steps and tasks. How long do you need to complete each task?
You should give yourself more time than you think you would need, just in case. If you think you'd need two weeks to finish a task, give yourself four weeks.
You can track each task's due date in your calendar or with any other task management apps.
Here are some examples.
Example 1: Get rid of all the old furniture in the basement storage
1. Clean the sofa this weekend, take at least three pictures. Sign up to an online classified and post the ad by Sunday evening.
2. Post pictures of the chairs, the coffee tables and the kitchen table to the same classified, but in the "free" section, for anyone who is willing to pick them up. Also to be done by Sunday evening.
2. Sell the sofa by the end of this year. If it doesn't sell by then, donate it to the local charity.
3. Add a task to the calendar for Dec 15 to contact the charity to see if they'll come and pick up the sofa in case it doesn't sell by then.
4. If they don't pickup, then talk to the neighbour to see if they can help you with this. Buy them some beer if they help. Also take other leftovers, (e.g., chairs) if there are any, to the charity.
5. Make sure that all the furniture is gone by at latest Jan 31.
Example 2: Declutter every drawer and cupboard in the kitchen
1. Check to see if you have any empty cardboard boxes in the basement. You will need at least three. If not, check to see if you have some large garbage bags. If you can't find any of these, get some before this Saturday.
2. On Saturday morning at 10:00, you are going to empty all the drawers in the kitchen and sort the contents into keep, throw out, donate and sell categories. You are going to purge anything that you don't use anymore or duplicate/triplicate items. Put the sorted items into the boxes or bags and keep them there until you've finished decluttering the kitchen, except for "toss" items which you can throw out at the end of the day.
3. Next Saturday, you're going to go through all the cupboards above the counter and declutter.
4. On the third Saturday, you're going to do the same for the cupboards below the counter.
5. On the fourth Saturday, take donation items to your local charity. Either post your "sell" items on a classified by the end of the weekend or plan a garage sale for the upcoming weekend if it's nice outside.
Make sure to break each goal into small steps and tasks with a timeline which will act as milestones as well as directions to your goal. If you'd like, you can use project management tools such as Visio or lucid chart.
4. Reward yourself
Every time you complete a goal, you should reward yourself. It will help you motivate to keep going, and you deserve it.
It's advisable to stick to things that can be consumed or enjoyed. Brunch, lunch, dinner, a box of chocolate, a day of hiking, vacation, visiting friends and family are all good choices.
Are you still feeling overwhelmed after reading this? Is there a specific issue or concern you have that is preventing you from starting decluttering?
If so, get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org