Decluttering For Beginners: Where To Start + How To Get It Done!

In today’s post, we’re diving deep into this process together. I’ll be holding your hand and guiding you every step of the way.

What is decluttering? Why should you do it?

First, let me just explain that decluttering, all it is, is the process of removing unnecessary items that are taking up space in your home and in your life.

You should be decluttering often because life is short and your time is precious, so you need to be doing an audit on your possessions frequently—just to check in and make sure you’re still loving or needing it in your home or in your life. 

Because the more you have, the more time and energy it takes to manage it. And the truth is, nothing is immortal—not people, not even food. 

So why do we hold onto clothing, bath towels, and home decor past their expiration date?

Think about it; if you were to drink a glass of milk a week after you were supposed to throw it out, you would get sick. Right? Because the “use by” date on the jug clearly warns you. 

Well, there are no warning signs on your furniture, your kids’ toys, or even your kitchen utensils. So what do we do? We keep accumulating more and more of that thing and that’s why you need to be decluttering often because nobody is going to tell you when to let that stuff go. 

You, ultimately, have to decide that for yourself so that your home can become a living space, not a storage space.  

Related: 23 Ways To Get Organized In 2023

Where to Start Decluttering 

Let me tell you, there are a lot of people that know they should be decluttering and get stuck because they have no idea where to begin this daunting process. It’s an overwhelming feeling that I am all too familiar with—even as a seasoned and adamant declutter-er. 

So now that you understand why it’s important to declutter your home often, let’s talk about how to get started. 

There are two ways that you can approach decluttering. The first approach is typically room-by-room, and the second is decluttering by category. 

For example, you can decide, if you wanted to approach decluttering room-by-room, to tackle your bedroom. And you would declutter everything in it. 

You could honestly spend one day or a weekend decluttering everything in your bedroom—the more stuff you have the longer it would take you to get done in that room.

But if you decide to declutter by category, then, on a Saturday morning, you could wake up and say; today, I’m going to just focus on decluttering my jewelry.

And you would go through all of your earrings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. until you have edited your possessions down to just the things, the accessories, that you absolutely love the most!

Now, if you were to declutter room-by-room, it’s going to take a lot of commitment. You cannot stop until that entire room is completed. 

And if you were to choose to declutter by category, it’s honestly a lot more satisfying because you’ll get results faster. It’s almost like getting lipo surgery versus sliming down the natural way through healthy eating and exercise—decluttering by category gives you those liposuction results.

You will be able to see the difference decluttering has made instantly, whereas, if you’re focused on decluttering room-by-room, that’s going to take a lot more time, commitment, and dedication. 

You may even lose the motivation to work through everything you own in that room, feel discouraged, and want to quit and give up—especially if you’re dealing with a lot of stuff, and that can easily become overwhelming. 

The magic, though, happens when you marry the two approaches together! 

You want to start by choosing a room, and then you’d choose a category to focus on inside of that room. 

Let’s say you start in your bedroom. On day 1, in your bedroom, choose to declutter three categories! Declutter your jewelry, handbags, and accessories. Then, on day 2, declutter your drawers, bed linen, and your jeans. 

The point is, you keep working until you’ve edited every category in that room. Once you’re done, then you select a new room to declutter and repeat the process. 

How to Declutter Like A Pro

The first thing that you need to do is create three separate piles: Rehome, Relocate, and Remove.

Your Rehome Pile will include all the things you no longer love, use, or need, but they may benefit someone else. Your goal is to rehome these items by selling or donating them to a friend, family member, or local charity organization.

Your Relocation Pile is for all the items you find in that room that need to be moved to another room in the house. While you’re decluttering, it’s natural to find things that don’t belong, so when you’re done, you will take everything from your Relocation Pile, walk around your house, and put those items where they should go. 

Your last pile, the Remove Pile, is just for the items that need to be removed immediately from your home. They will either go in the trash or recycle bin. 

You can easily create these piles using oversized garbage bags, laundry baskets, or cardboard boxes. I recommend using a box for your Rehome Pile, a laundry basket for your Relocation Pile, and garbage bags for your Remove Pile. 

Doing it this way, you won’t need to label each pile! Because as you’re decluttering, anything you plan to sell or donate can get shoved into the box. Any item that’s out of place can get tossed in the laundry basket. Everything that needs to be removed from your home can go straight into the garbage bag. 

How to Know What to Toss and What to Keep

I think this is the number one question everyone asks. Well, there are two questions I think you should always ask yourself: 

  1. When did I use this last?
  2. Do I still love it as much as I did the day I brought it home? 

Plain and simple, if it’s been longer than six months since you’ve used it, thought about it, seen it, and you don’t love it like you used to, or you don’t need it in your life anymore, then it’s time to let it go!

That’s your answer. 

That’s how you figure out what to keep and what to toss. You use time as a way to guide you and as a way to measure if it’s worth you holding onto it. 

But when it’s something that’s sentimental to you, if it’s something that was passed down to you, something that means a lot to you, or something that was a gift, those things are different. 

Sentimental items are by far the hardest category to declutter because we become emotionally attached to that stuff. Still, you don’t have to hold onto every single birthday card that you received from your grandparents—maybe just pick your favorite and keep it near and dear to your heart! 

You’ll also want to organize your sentimental category properly and store it away neatly in a garage, basement, or attic so you can revisit and reminisce whenever you want. 

How to Stay Motivated When All You Want to Do Is Quit 

As you are decluttering, there are definitely moments when you feel really good because you’re making a lot of progress, and then there are going to be moments when it can start to feel overwhelming. 

One of the easiest things you can do to keep yourself motivated is to listen to music! It’s going to keep you distracted from watching the clock because as you’re decluttering it’s easy to lose motivation when you realize how much time it’s taking you. 

Sometimes you start to feel, is this worth it? Why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this? I have a lot of stuff. I’m never going to finish. 

But you have to remember why you are decluttering in the first place. And when you lose momentum, it’s okay to stop! It’s okay to take a break. You can easily pick back up where you left off the next day. 

Decluttering can get emotional, but you want to make sure that you are at your BEST when you’re making these kinds of toss vs keep decisions. 

Why Decluttering Is Worth It

The best thing about getting into the habit of decluttering often is that you’ll become mindful of what you bring into your home. Decluttering, for me, led to better spending habits—I’m a lot less impulsive. 

What I mean is, for the most part, I’m not even thinking about buying something new until I know we need it. But most people aren’t like that. They will make a purchase without a plan just because it’s on sale. And that’s called FOMO, the fear of missing out. 

But what do people with clutter-free homes do? 

They only buy what they need. And it’s that awareness that keeps their homes organized.

Can you see the difference? 

When you bring something home because you think you need it, you’re really only keeping it “just in case.”  On the contrary, when you’re intentional about what you bring into your home, then you probably already know you’re going to get a lot of use out of it.

It doesn’t matter that you got it for cheap, free, or on sale if it’s just going to be taking up space.

You should own your possessions. Your possessions should not own you. 

That’s why we must go through this process of removing unnecessary items that are taking up space in our homes and in our lives, and do it as often as needed.

It doesn’t matter if you choose to declutter every three months like me as a way to be preventative, or if you choose to declutter twice a year. 

Choose whatever routine works best for you and watch your home become a place of peace and serenity, and not just a place that stores a bunch of stuff. 

Decluttering Step by Step

Here is the entire process in a nutshell:

  1. Choose a room or area to start in, then choose a specific category of like-items to purge.
  2. Create three separate piles for what you will rehome, what will need to be relocated, and what will get removed from your house using empty boxes, laundry baskets, and garbage bags
  3. Beginning decluttering your categorized items to identify what you’re keeping and what you’re letting go of—ask yourself those two questions above to help you decide!
  4. Keep yourself motivated by listening to music or a podcast and take a break when you need it.
  5. Once you’ve finished a category, take a moment to pat yourself on the back, then move on to another category in the same room.
  6. Once you’ve successfully decluttered that room, handle what you’ve got in your piles. Sell, toss, donate, and put things back where they belong.
  7. Repeat the process in a different room, decluttering one category at a time.

Before you know it, you will have a clutter-free home!

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