Approaches to Decluttering: How to Get Started
Simple Living

Approaches to Decluttering: How to Get Started

Last week we shared some of the benefits of clearing clutter and living with less, but the question is: where does one start? Various items or areas of your space can present different challenges to declutter. Some items hold a lot of memories and can be difficult to approach while other areas – like maybe a jammed closet – can seem overwhelming. I enjoy a good purge and have a few methods that work for me, depending on what items or area of my home I’m looking to clear!

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Speed Purge

This post from Be More With Less walks you through decluttering 10 Spaces, 10 Minutes, 100 Items from easy to approach areas like your coat closet, purse, or pantry. It is sometimes easier to start with a small, contained space rather than considering your home as a whole. Once you’ve developed a process that works for you and gained some confidence it can seem less daunting to consider a larger space!

Start Small

Sometimes there is just too much ‘stuff’ around on surfaces in my home: some things are simply out of place and need to be put away, some are items that should be removed from my house, and usually it’s a combination of both! Not having a lot of opportunities to do a top-to-bottom clean of my house, I find that it is effective to focus on small spaces that can be decluttered in 5 minutes or less and address these small areas over a day, several days or sometimes even longer. Amazingly, as Lela Burris points out in her blog post, just 5 minutes per day adds up to 2.5 hours of organizing and decluttering in a month!

KonMari Method

With a popular book and Neflix series, Marie Kondo is now a household name and it’s safe to say the KonMari Method has taken the world by storm! This method is one that takes a bit more of a time commitment if you’re going to follow the procedure of going through all items in her designated categories at one time. The KonMari organizing tips – particularly the storage of items – are what I found most useful however if you’re looking to do one big purge this might be the method for you. See below for my KonMari’d t-shirts!

Box It Up!

For items that may be needed in future consider moving them into a box labelled with a date six months (or some specified time period) from the date of packing. If nothing in the box has been missed in six months then donate or give it away!

Sentimental Items

It can be so difficult to know what to keep and what to pass along when it comes to items that hold memories. These can be anything: baby clothes, cards, photos, or my personal favourite item to save – day planners dating back to high school!

Marie Kondo has some helpful suggestions here, including eliminating duplicates, going through photos as a family to decide which images to keep, and displaying items that are meaningful. This post provides a few other great suggestions including making quilts of textiles, taking photos or writing descriptions of items, or passing along to another family member.

20 20 Method

Does anyone else struggle with the feeling that as soon as you get rid of something, you’ll find that you need it? A great way to address this concern is the 20 20 rule! This method suggests that if you can replace something for less than $20 and in under 20 minutes, it can safely be decluttered. Alison used this method in her original 30 Things in 30 Days Challenge.

Have you ever tackled a big reorganization of your space? Do you find it easy or difficult to let go of items?

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    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      The 20 20 rule helped me make quite a few decisions. Cost is usually a reason for me holding onto things forever, so this gave me permission to let go of a lot. And I’m the same. I haven’t regretted anything so far!

  • Richie

    Hi Krista. The problem that I’ve had previously when de-cluttering is that I have de-cluttered one area by moving the clutter to another area!! What that meant was I then had one big area (the garage) to de-clutter – it made me feel better as long as I didn’t need to go into the garage 😉

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      That is a problem 😉 I have a suspicion that a lot of other people use the garage for the same “out of sight, out of mind” purpose too.

  • agirlwithaview1

    I absolutely love a good declutter and do them quite regularly throughout the year. The 20 20 rule sounds interesting as I’ve never heard of that before!

    Tash – A Girl with a View

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