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4 Steps to Declutter Your Home When You Don’t Know Where to Start

Have you ever thought “Help! My house is so messy I don’t even know where to begin!”

Clutter seems to breed doesn’t it? One minute you’ve finished a massive tidy-up, then you turn around and it’s all back! Sometimes even worse!

Or there’s a slow creep… You’re so happy with the work you’ve done, it’s looking good. Then some junk starts to pile up on a surface. Some shopping bags start drifting into corners. Boxes and papers seem to stack themselves on every flat surface.

Maybe your house has been messy for so long you’ve forgotten what it looked like when it was tidy.

“How did this even happen!” you think.

You might get stuck on a mindset –

“No matter how hard I try, I’m never organised!”

“I might as well give up now, decluttering never works for me!”

Maybe you’ve read all the decluttering articles and organising books. Maybe you’ve used checklists like the one above. Or maybe you’ve just reached your limit of tolerance for mess.

Here’s what I suggest you do:

1. Decide What Will Make Your Life Better or Easier.

Ask yourself which space has the most negative effect on you, in its current state. In other words, which space would make your life better right now if it was clutter-free.

  • ~ It might be big: You’d love to be able to get out of your car inside the garage when it’s raining. But it’s full of junk to the roof!
  • ~ It might be small: You can’t do your hair or makeup in the bathroom because the vanity is a mountain of stuff.

It might be the kitchen bench, or the stuff blocking the front door. Maybe you hate doing laundry because of all the things blocking the washing machine. Maybe you’d love to hire a cleaner, but they won’t come until they can see the floor.

Focus on that space. Ignore the rest for now. See how much you can get done.

2. Start Small, I mean REALLY small.

Small means different things to different people. In this case I mean breaking up your Really Big Decluttering Job into more manageable chunks. Then repeat.

It all depends on how you work best. Some folks can get bogged down trying to make decisions about tiny things. For some, one big pile is impossible to tackle.

To start small you can do a few different things:

  • ~ Chunk up your time. 15 minutes, one hour or one day in a month. What ever works for you.
  • ~ Choose a type of thing (like fabrics, paper or toys.) Try to focus on an even smaller type of stuff if you have a lot of one thing.
  • ~ Choose a small defined space. If you can’t fully open the door to the spare room, start by just clearing behind the door.
  • ~ Carry one armful of stuff to a sorting space at a time. Try not to get distracted by other things.

It’s a little different when you have a Professional Organiser with you. A lot more gets done, faster. We see things in a different way. It’s also really hard to overwhelm us.

3. Work From The Top Down.

Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to pull things out from the bottom of a pile. Gravity is not our friend in this situation!

It’s also less daunting to just tackle what you can see. Limit your ambitious plans (unless you have help and time.)

Instead of deciding to pull everything out of the spare (junk) room in one go:

  • ~ Work step-by-step, layer-by-layer. Like folding a pile of washing.
  • ~ Stop when you want. Set a timer if you like, or go by how you’re feeling.
  • ~ Don’t think about all the work left to do. You’ll get to it.

There’s a few jokes going around about getting distracted when decluttering. Darting from one thing to the next. It’s too easy to get in a muddle. Focus on your small area or thing.

If you can work systematically, within your comfortable attention span, you’ll see progress. If you find yourself in a state of hyper-focus or enthusiasm, keep going!

4. Sort Into 3 Types of Stuff.

This is a zero judgement space. I’m a zero judgement person. So if you read the word Messy or Rubbish or any other word and feel defensive, please don’t. Your feelings are legitimate, but in this space Mess is normal. All I want is for you to be happier with your living space.

If you have a Very Messy Home you might have several types of stuff in your home. It really helps to sort a bit as you tackle each space.

An easy way to look at it is doing a Sweep of a space:

Sweep 1. Scan for rubbish. Be broad-minded about what is rubbish. Sometimes Stuff That Might Come In Handy is better recycled.

Sweep 2. Things that are in the wrong room or place. Why is there a bag of onions on the lounge floor? So that’s where all the scissors went! All the kids backpacks are on the dining table. Put things back where you’d like them to live.

Sweep 3. Scan for the type of thing you’re looking for. Only gather what you can deal with. Don’t get distracted. Focus on the specific stuff you want to declutter this time around.

Perfection is not required. Better is what we’re going for. Slow and steady is just as good as fast and big when it comes to decluttering.



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