The easiest (and most effective) way to declutter your house right now
Inside: Learn the only method you should use to declutter your home when you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where – or how – to start.
Decluttering reaps countless benefits, but it also comes with some difficult struggles that make the whole act of decluttering and all of its benefits questionable.
Oftentimes, the biggest reason why you struggle to declutter is because you feel overwhelmed and the mere thought of decluttering an entire house is way too much to handle.
Here we’ll go over the number one thing you can do to easily declutter your house as quickly as possible, without getting thrown off course and hating every moment of it.
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The very best decluttering tips…
When it comes to decluttering, everyone and their 10 dogs have an opinion on how it should be done.
People will bombard you with dozens of decluttering tips that prove to be nothing more than “do this, and you’ll get the results you’re after”.
But they forget about the in-between.
Once you’ve been actively decluttering and living a clutter-free lifestyle for some time, decluttering is EASY. But the one thing I often forget is that it wasn’t always easy.
And for someone just starting out (like me, not too many years ago), decluttering can feel like a hopeless and overwhelming task…
And when you’re told to walk through your house with a trash bag in hand and get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy” (thanks, Kondo), it’s easy to get caught up in the what-ifs.
“It doesn’t spark joy right now, but it’s practical so what if I need it one day?”
There are countless decluttering struggles people face when they set out to toss their belongings they aren’t crazy about to make room for the things they like, but we’ll get into that a bit later in this post.
For now, let’s get to the easiest way to declutter your house right now (this easy decluttering tip works every time without fail). If you truly want to trash your clutter once and for all, this is all you need to do…
PSST – want to get your hands on a completely free and information-packed decluttering guide that has taken many families from living chaotic lives in cluttered homes to living the peaceful life they’ve been desiring for years, in the organized haven they now call home? Grab it here ↙️
The #1 decluttering tip + how to declutter any mess quickly
When it comes to decluttering, keeping it simple is key.
There’s no need to go out and buy dozens of cute baskets to organize with (although after you’ve decluttered, you will want a few of these to liven and organize up your home), and you certainly don’t need to tackle an entire house at one time.
The thought of decluttering an entire house is often the same thought that causes people to quit before they even start.
So, keep it simple.
All you have to do is grab a couple boxes and a couple of these hefty bags, clear your schedule for the day, and get ready to start.
Once you’re ready (distractions are gone, you’re focused on the task and you have created an achievable goal that you’re determined to meet), it’s time to start.
Grab a box and garbage bags and head to the entryway.
If you have multiple entrances into your house, start in the one that gets used the most often.
Go around the entire area and start by putting anything that is garbage into the trash bag (anything broken that you have no intentions of fixing and anything not broken, but you don’t use, and isn’t in good enough condition to donate).
Don’t get caught up in this step – it’s meant to be quick and swift, all you’re doing here is cleaning up the playing field a bit before you dig into the bulk of the work.
This way when you go to declutter, you don’t have to dance around trash to find your items.
Take the box and place anything into it that you haven’t used in 6 or more months, anything that you have multiples of, or anything that you have something else that serves the same purpose. Put things that you don’t like (you could say, anything that “doesn’t spark joy”) into the box, unless it’s a necessity. (Sometimes we have to keep things we don’t necessarily like because they’re essential to our day to day life.)
Anything you don’t need, anything you don’t use, and anything you don’t like (with the exception of it being a necessity), can all go into this box.
Don’t be afraid of filling the box full. And then grabbing a second box to fill up.
Be thorough with this step. This isn’t going to be as fast as the first step of collecting all the trash in the room was.
This will take more time, more concentration, and you’re likely to get caught up on a couple items that will make you wonder how to decide what to keep when decluttering.
If this happens, all you have to do is ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I love it?
- Do I need it?
- Do I use it on a regular basis?
- Do I have multiples of this item?
Answer honestly, and make your decision whether to keep this item or to declutter it accordingly. This is exactly how to decide what to keep when decluttering… and how to decide what to toss.
If you find you’re still stuck, you can use the decluttering question flowcharts included in The Clutter Buster to make quick decisions that you won’t regret in the future.
(Isn’t that the main thing we’re all afraid of – that we’ll foolishly get rid of something we will end up needing in the future?)
In this step, go through every belonging you lay your eyes on and don’t skip over anything without asking yourself whether you’re going to keep or declutter it.
(I promise, with this easy decluttering method you’ll be able to get your hands on anything you put into this box but end up needing in the next few months easily.)
Tape the top of the box closed, label it with the date and pack it away.
Put the box somewhere you won’t see often, so you aren’t tempted to go through it, but somewhere that you can access it in the case that you need to.
Now, forget about it.
Try not to think about the box or the contents inside, just go back to your day to day life (in a beautifully decluttered home!).
Now, repeat these three steps for each and every room in your house, working around the house clockwise.
Be sure to write the date clearly on each box. (The next step will tell you why.)
4. Six months later
The very last step is where all your hard work comes together.
After six months have passed (this is why it’s so important to write the dates on the boxes), grab the boxes you have packed away and put them into your car. Now, drive them straight to a donation center.
DO NOT give in to the temptation to sort through the box.
If you open the box up and take a look “just in case you see something you need”, you’re bound to keep things from the box that you really don’t need.
The things that remain inside the boxes are things you truly don’t need. You haven’t used them in 6 months. Trust me, you don’t need them anymore.
They may have once been useful and valuable in your life, but they no longer are, and you need to be okay with letting go.
But wait, what if I need something I packed away?
The reason why this easy decluttering method is just that… EASY, is because when you pack your belongings into these boxes to be packed away for the next 6 months, you’re telling yourself that it’s OKAY.
They will still be in your house. These items aren’t getting given away. You don’t have to let go of them.
And it’s true. If you come across an item that you really need anytime in the six months between the date that you packed the boxes and before they get shipped off to a donation center, and you remember that you used to have it and it’s packed away now, you have full permission to go grab it out of the box.
However, be sure you grab JUST THAT ONE item. Nothing else.
Don’t sort through the items (even if you think you’re just looking… trust me, the temptation to keep things is stronger than ever). Simply grab what you need and close the box back up.
Then you get to keep that item that you pulled out of the box, because it’s something you actually need.
Don’t use this as an excuse.
This is why this decluttering method succeeds – because you have 6 months leeway where you can decide whether or not you need something before getting rid of it for good.
However, do NOT use this as an excuse to grab random things out of the box because “you need them”.
Don’t lie to yourself and tell yourself that you need something you know you really don’t.
Think of it this way: If that’s what you do, grab items out of the box that you really don’t need, just because you’re afraid to get rid of them for good, all your hard work is going to waste.
All the time you spent packing up these things is now wasted.
So stick to your plan and keep your house decluttered. Don’t believe the lie that you need something unless you really DO need it. (If you really do need something, you have full permission to keep it.)
Where to start decluttering
To eliminate the stress and overwhelm that comes along with wondering where to start decluttering in your house, it’s easiest to start in the entryway, then work your way through each room and area going around the house clockwise.
Our house, for example, would be in this order:
- Entryway + coat closet
- Dining room/living room
- Master bedroom + ensuite
- Kid’s bedroom
- Linen closet
And by working my way around our house clockwise, I can ensure that I am touching on each area and room of our house, and there aren’t any places getting forgotten about.
Working your way around the house this way eliminates the stress of wondering where to start decluttering.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering “how do you start decluttering?”, take a breath, then follow the three simple steps laid out above. That’s all there is to decluttering.
This way you aren’t fighting with yourself saying, “no, I can’t donate this! I may need it in the future!”.
All you do is simply pack a box full of items that you don’t use/don’t like, then pack that box away for 6 months.
Then, after 6 months, put the box into your car and drive it straight to the donation center. (And resist the urge to sort through the things in the box. If you haven’t used them in this long, you don’t need them.)
The benefits of decluttering
Countless people wonder “why is it important to declutter?” and “why do people declutter?”
With all this work involved, what’s the merit to be gained? What’s the point of decluttering?
Here are a couple of the MANY benefits that people face when they go from living a cluttered, suffocating, and crowded lifestyle to living a peaceful, desirable life free from clutter.
The rewards of decluttering:
- Financial improvements. When you get rid of the things you don’t need and don’t like, you’re much more aware of the things you bring into your home, because you know if you’re not careful those very things could simply end up getting donated with a large pile of clutter 5 years down the road. Right before your eyes you can see how much money was spent on things that you now consider clutter. This alone should be enough kick your decluttering habit into motion.
- Increased focus. With fewer things competing for your attention, you’ll find you’re able to focus on the task at hand rather than having your mind wander to the mess surrounding you.
- Tidier. Now that your house is stripped from its clutter, misplaced items stand out like a sore thumb. Naturally, you’ll find yourself becoming a tidier person.
- Happier. Clutter causes stress, makes you feel overwhelmed, and studies have shown that people with cluttered homes isolate themselves to a degree, because they are too embarrassed to have guests over. Saying goodbye to clutter will remove all the negative affects it has on your life. (Which is why when people ask, “Does decluttering make you feel better?” I always answer with a resounding YES!… in more ways than one.)
- Less stress. Studies have been done that show the amount of stress a woman has at home can be correlated with the amount of stuff she has at home. Clutter = Stress.
- Freed. Clutter puts an overwhelming weight on your shoulders – but most of the time, people don’t even notice the weight until they declutter and it begins to lift. Once you kick clutter out for good, you’ll feel free from the weight of things.
- More time. More time to do the things you enjoy. When a house is cluttered, oftentimes women feel restless because their house constantly looks messy. When you can ditch the clutter and create more space, you’ll find you don’t feel guilty for sitting down in the evening and cuddling with your spouse, or for packing up the kids and going on a trip to the lake.
- More organized. You won’t have to spend an hour turning your house upside down just to find the keys anymore. And you won’t have to sift through scattered papers to find the one you’re looking for… because life will finally be organized.
- Less anxiety. When things are out of order and chaotic, it can often lead us to feel disoriented and anxious. Putting order to our stuff (usually) takes those feelings away.
- Make room for what you want. Getting rid of the unnecessary things that clog up your home creates room for the things that you actually like. (Plus, you and your family will have more space to just live.)
- You’re helping those in need. When you pack up the things you don’t use or need and donate them, you’re allowing others who actually need that item be able to get it for far less than the cost of buying it new.
- Less sickness. With the clutter cleared, there will be fewer surfaces for dust to land on, less animal dandruff, and less dirt or crumbs getting caught behind something. Which will result in fewer illnesses and relief for anyone with allergies.
- Less cleaning. (Sign me up!). With less stuff in your house, cleaning will become easier than ever because you won’t have to clean around, beneath, and behind countless items anymore.
These are just a few of the MANY benefits of decluttering that you’ll find in your life once you take the first step to kick the clutter to the curb.
The above benefits are some of the many ways for how decluttering improves your life. It improves your financial situation, your mental health, and your physical health.
All in all, decluttering can have a positive impact on just about every aspect of your life if you let it.
So, if decluttering is SO good, why is it so hard at the same time?
And if decluttering is so hard to do, why is decluttering important?
Why is decluttering so hard? (and why is decluttering so important?)
Decluttering is so difficult because we feel sentimental about our belongings. We have some kind of attachment to everything we own, whether we realize it or not, and it’s that very attachment that makes the entire decluttering process much harder than simply placing a few items in a box to give away.
Here are a few reasons why we struggle to declutter, even when we know it’s the best thing for us…
- You keep it “just in case”. We convince ourselves that we may need these items in the future, and we don’t want to have to go out and buy them… so we hold on to countless items “just in case”. (This is the exact reason why I’ve created this easy decluttering method that we went over above, because it’s decluttering made easy. And we need that.)
- You don’t want to waste money. The money you worked so hard for ended up spent on these items, so packing them up and dropping them off at a donation center just doesn’t feel right. You feel guilty because you can’t hide from the fact that these purchases are now a waste of money.
- Feeling guilty. Maybe you got some of these items as a gift from someone, or they got handed down for generations. Don’t let guilt be the driving factor as to why you keep something. (Remember, it’s YOUR house that this item has to live in… not theirs.)
- Feeling sentimental. Sentimental attachment to items is real and makes decluttering a lot harder than it should be. I dig deep into decluttering sentimental items and give you tools to use to make the process harder in my popular decluttering resource which you can get your hands on for free here.
- It was useful in the past. Accepting that just because something was of use to you in the past doesn’t mean it’s necessary now can be challenging. But a lot of times, that’s what we need to remember: Just because it was of good use in the past, doesn’t mean you need it anymore.
- Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you have. This is one of the main reason so many people struggle to declutter – and it’s exactly why you want to follow the easy decluttering tips I laid out above to a T. I’ve curated this easy decluttering plan to work specifically for people who struggle to know where to start and feel overwhelmed by the thought of it.
- Not having the time. You’re busy – I get that. But if living a stress-free, clutter-free life is something you truly desire, you’ll find a way to make time for decluttering. Even if that means decluttering in short 5-minute stints each day. You’ll find a way.
How do I stop being sentimental about clutter?
Once emotions and memories are tacked onto an item, it makes it almost impossible to get rid of.
We need to realize that by getting rid of the item, we aren’t getting rid of the memory.
The memory will live with us forever – but the item doesn’t have to.
One popular tip for decluttering sentimental items is to take photos of the sentimental items before getting rid of them so that you always remember the item, and anytime you look at the photo the memory will come back to you.
If you find yourself struggling with the idea of getting rid of sentimental items, get some tips and tricks here in my free decluttering guide.
How often should you declutter?
If you declutter the right way (starting with your mind, then ruthlessly attacking your house), you should only ever have to do one big initial declutter.
Then, after that you’ll have a decluttered mind so you’ll be incredibly intentional about what comes into your house… which will work to keep the clutter out.
However, I didn’t cover any topics of decluttering your mind in this post. Decluttering your mind needs to happen BEFORE you declutter your house – and I talk exactly about decluttering your mind in my free guide which you can grab here: From Chaos to Calm: exactly where to start decluttering when your house feels like a never-ending pile of stuff.
Otherwise, if you declutter your house but aren’t intentional about future purchases and don’t give much thought into the things you and your family members bring into the house, you should be doing a thorough decluttering session at LEAST once every year. (Which sounds like a lot more work to me than simply learning how to stop clutter at the source. That is how to get rid of clutter for good.)
How can I declutter my house fast?
And so the question still remains… how can I declutter my house quickly?
There are dozens upon dozens of decluttering tips and hacks where people promise fast results. And they’re right, you will get fast results.
But you won’t get lasting results unless you put in the hard work.
But the truth is still the same: sometimes to get the lasting results you’re after, there are no tips or hacks. Just simply hard work.
By working hard and working smart, you’ll be able to declutter for good. And keep the clutter gone for good.
We’ve talked a lot about decluttering and how to start decluttering when overwhelmed. I truly believe that following this quick and simple decluttering method, you’ll be well on your way to a properly decluttered home in no time.
If, however, you prefer to follow a declutter your home checklist, you can grab my popular decluttering resource which includes a house decluttering checklist as well as which areas to start with and a timeframe to meet, here.
This decluttering method is the perfect one if you have the self-control to stay out of the boxes. Don’t give in to the temptation to ruffle through the boxes, or else all your hard work will be wasted and you won’t get to acquire the benefits of decluttering.
However, this easy decluttering method may not be the best decluttering method for hoarders, because they are likely to feel more tempted to keep the stuff in the boxes if they don’t get rid of their belongings right away.
To find decluttering help for harders, head here to find my best decluttering tips for hoarders (and anyone who feels an especially-strong emotional attachment to their belongings).
Sign up below to grab the free printable declutter guide to take your house from chaotic mess to peaceful haven ↙️
Related decluttering articles you may be interested in:
13 Easy Decluttering Tips for Hoarders
5 Ways to Declutter Your House in One Week
20 Things to Declutter From Your Home Right Now
How to Declutter on a Low Income