Successful decluttering project

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In Part 1 of Project Declutter, I gave pointers for getting into the right mindset to purge belongings. It isn't easy to get rid of things, either because of the emotional attachment you place on an item, or because it's something you actually do need to keep around, or maybe it's something that you might need to keep around, but you aren't sure. Also, when you have a whole room to declutter, a whole attic, or a whole house, the task can seem overwhelming.

Just because it feels scary doesn't mean you can't succeed.

Here are my personal best-practices for having a successful decluttering day.

  • Parse out your entire project into hour-long projects. Decluttering and purging can be a majorly draining task; doing one small piece per day makes it bearable. Attacking it this way will give you a chance to see actual results and not want to give up because it feels like too much. Depending on your situation, an hour-long project may be as much as an entire closet, or something as small as one junk drawer in your kitchen. When in doubt, opt for a smaller project, especially if you're not a natural declutterer. (Is that even a word?)
  • Once you've chosen your project, completely empty it out. If you've ever moved, you know that feeling of finding that long-lost pair of glasses or uncovering things you didn't even know you had. The only way to declutter a space successfully is to take the plunge and dump out that drawer or completely empty that closet!
  • Set up designation piles. Now, this will depend on what project you're working on, but my piles typically look like this:
    1. Trash
    2. Keep
    3. Donate
    4. Recycle
    5. Digitize
  • When you go through your stuff, make sure you're in the right mood and right mindset - otherwise you may end up dumping out your junk drawer and just throwing everything back into said junk drawer. (And I almost typed drunk jawer… hmm!)
  • Have your cleaning supplies easily accessible. Part of the beauty of cleaning out a space and purging and reorganizing is actually being able to clean those deep, dark corners before you put stuff back. Have your vacuum, dust rag, and cleaning products readily available. Take this opportunity to get rid of cobwebs, dust, and other yuckiness.
  • If you're not completely motivated, just get started! It's easy to put off these types of chores, because, well, they are chores, and they can be no fun. Just remember that by taking the time to do this, you can ultimately improve your quality of life and feel accomplished. And that's why it's good to only do an hour's worth at a time! That's only 4% of your day. You can do it. Just dump that drawer. A decluttered space lends itself to creativity, productivity, and less stress.
  • If you have enough space, put aside your piles for a separate hour to sort them out. Taking the extra time to sell, recycle, or properly donate them to a charity will either put some cash in your pocket or will save things from going into a landfill. I'll go into different options in the next Project Declutter post!

What are your tips for taking on a reorganizing or decluttering project?

Cover photo by Ingrid Hofstra