Do you want to conquer your clutter, but don’t know how to attack it? Here are 21 different ways to declutter. Pick a plan, work it, and start seeing that clutter disappear.
Truthfully, you might need to choose and use more than one of these plans to rid your home of clutter and that is okay.
Some of these plans are intended to kickstart your motivation. Once you have completed them, you will need to pick another more involved plan to finish the decluttering process in your home. After that plan, you must pick a one that will help you keep your home clutter-free.
Decluttering is not a once-and-done activity. It is a lifestyle.
After I share the plans, I will go over ways to maintain your clutter-free home and provide helpful resources for your decluttering journey.
21 Customizable Ways To Declutter: Choose A Plan And Conquer Your Clutter
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1. 52 Weeks To A Simplified Home
This is an excellent plan for those of you just starting your decluttering journey as it will help you give your home top-to-bottom decluttering in a realistic time frame.
Divide your home up into 52 areas and declutter one a week. Redo the list and the challenge as many times as needed. This post explains the method in more detail and has a free printable you can download to make your list as simple as possible.
2. A Box A Month
This plan is excellent for those who need a toss goal to reach for each month or those who have most of their clutter gone already and need a way to make sure they maintain their progress.
I once tried eliminating 30 items every month, but it soon became a box-a-month challenge. I just couldn’t be bothered to keep track of how many things I tossed each month–call me lazy if you want. It was easier to grab a box on the first day of each month and make sure I filled it by the last day of the month than counting items all month long.
My guess is I tossed 30 items or more anyway by filling a box a month.
3. A Certain Amount Of Items Each Day
This straightforward plan is perfect if you are overwhelmed by your clutter and multi-step plans.
I got this idea from a lady in my Snail Pace Clutter Removers Facebook group. Pick a number of items to toss each day and stick to it.
4. Room By Room Extreme Decluttering Plan
If you have an idea of exactly how you want your room to look when you are done, but you are not sure how to get it that way, this plan is for you.
The plan was inspired by the book The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to Be Beautiful. The author does something similar when she rearranges her rooms periodically.
5. Jump-Start Plan
If you want to make a big dent in your clutter immediately and then continue at a more reasonable rate, this plan is for you. It will help you get the most public areas of your home company ready in four weeks.
I followed this plan, and our home looked stunning when I was done.
6. 40 Bags in 40 Days
Another great challenge for kickstarting your decluttering or for those of you whose clutter situation isn’t that bad is the 40 bags in 40 days challenge.
I have not done this plan before, but you can find all the details you need to do it here.
7. 15 Minutes a Day
Set your timer and attack your clutter for 15 minutes at least five days a week, if not every day. This plan is suitable for those who do well with routines. Here is a site that will assign you an area to declutter each day if you have trouble deciding on your own.
8. Weekend Purging
A weekend purge is a great way to start your decluttering journey with a bang. This post explains all the groundwork you need to do ahead of time to make one happen. It suggests you can get your entire home done on a weekend, but that might not be doable for everyone. If your home or your clutter piles are large, consider doing one weekend purge a month until you have attacked all the areas of your home.
9. Trash First
This is a jump-start plan. After doing this, you must choose another plan to continue your journey to a clutter-free home. Grab a trash bag and go around your home room by room, drawer by drawer, closet by closet, throwing out garbage. You are looking for wrappers, broken items (you know you will not fix them), stained and ripped clothing, expired food, etc.
The idea is to gain momentum with easy wins.
10. Trash/Donate/Return Challenge
For those short on time and with smaller clutter piles, try a 30 day trash/donate/return challenge. You can either pick a number of items or set a time limit. For example, you could set a goal to trash three items, donate three items, and return three to their rightful place in your home each day or do as many items as possible in five minutes.
11. Reverse Hanger Trick
A lot of professional organizers share this trick. On January 1st, walk into your bedroom closest and turn all your clothing hangers around. On December 31st, any clothing that has not been turned around needs to go into the donation pile–because if you didn’t wear it the past year, you don’t need it.
This doesn’t have to be done at the beginning of the new year. If you store seasonal clothing, it could be done seasonally. Or you could do it on your birthday, anniversary, or any other memorable day.
12. The Room By Room Break Down
This is similar to the 52-week plan, except that you will break down your home first by room and then by cluttered areas in that room.
For instance, when breaking down the kitchen, you might do upper kitchen cabinets one day, lower the next, followed by the kitchen pantry, the junk drawer, the counters, open shelves, under the sink, etc., until you have cleaned out each area in that room.
This plan leaves no area of your home untouched. How long the plan will take depends on the size of your home, the amount of clutter you have, and how much time you can devote to the plan.
13. The Time-Will-Tell Box
This is more of a tip than a plan, but I think it needs to be added as it is very valuable. If you find yourself questioning if you really need an item, create a time-will-tell box.
Use a plastic bin you can’t see through or a cardboard box. Put today’s date on it. Throw items in there that are slowing your decluttering down due to “need” indecision. Put the box in a storage area that is convenient enough for you to grab the item should you actually need it. But if you don’t find you need it a year past the date you put on the box–donate it.
You can also create a time-will-tell folder for receipts and other paperwork that you think you might need to keep. The same rules apply: date it and let time tell.
14. Decluttering Vacation
If you work a demanding job and your evenings and weekends are crazy–this plan is for you. You will probably need an attitude adjustment for it to work, though. Use your vacation weeks to declutter ALL of your home deeply. Then pick a maintenance plan so that you can use your vacations to relax from then on!
You will need to divide all of your home and storage areas on your property according to the amount of time you have off. It will be more manageable if you can get your spouse to take the time off and pitch in, too –don’t forget the kids. Even if the kids are little, they can help in some way and they will reap the benefits of a decluttered home just as you will.
Plan simple, easy meals and plan a few rewards, too, such as if you hit your daily goal before a particular hour of the day, you take the evening off to do something you enjoy.
15. Hit The Easy First
We all tend to shove items we are not using into the basement, attic, garage, or spare room. The piles might be large in these areas, but once you dig in, you will find they are filled with simple tossing, donating, and keeping decisions. These areas tend to collect outgrown items like toys or forgotten and therefore, unneeded possessions like old wall art.
By the time you have decluttered these storage spaces, you will be in high toss, donating, and putting away gear.
16. Hit The Visible First
Another motivational plan is to hit all the visible areas of your home, like the tops of nightstands, the family room coffee table, the kitchen gadgets cluttering the counters, the top of your dresser, the bathroom countertops, etc. Basically, any flat surface in your home, whether on the floor or on top of furniture.
This cuts visual clutter, which reduces mess stress, and once you start feeling less stressed, you will feel motivated to toss more clutter to reduce your stress even more. It gets addicting.
17. Garage Sale Blitz
Eliminate the lingering “going to sell it” pile that often remains after decluttering by making it the decluttering challenge.
Begin by setting a firm date for your sale. Then, go through your home, collecting items to sell. With this plan, you are not dealing with putting things in their proper place as you go; you are only grabbing items to sell. Here is my room-to-room guide for doing this.
18. Hit The Sentimental Stuff Last
Items with sentimental value, like your late favorite aunt’s costume jewelry that isn’t to your taste, but floods your mind with memories of her are tough to part with.
I know because I have been there. Don’t let these heart-string-pulling belongings slow down your decluttering. Pack them away in one area of your home and then move on with your decluttering plan. When you have decluttered every other area of your property, return to the sentimental stuff. By then, you will be hooked on how good it feels to have a home filled with only things you use and love.
I realized that not using things that loved ones left me wasn’t honoring my loved one. What honored them more was finding a home that would love that item. I also discovered I didn’t need the whole collection to bring back fond memories; one piece would do. By limiting the collection, I could better display and take after the heirloom. If breaking up the collection makes it useless for others, a great picture brings back memories, too.
19. Become Motivation For Others
The main reason I could make decluttering an area of my home each week a habit for an entire year was because I was blogging about it here. Knowing that others were reading and being inspired by my posts kept me going when I didn’t feel like it.
You can share your before and after photos in my Snail Pace Clutter Removers Facebook Group.
20. Toss The Same Number As The Day Of The Month
The minimalists have been given credit for this challenge. You begin at the beginning of any calendar month. On the first day, you toss, donate, or recycle one item; on the second day, you do two, etc. By the end of the month, you will be sending up to 31 items out of your home in one day!
You can repeat this challenge month after month or pick a new one from this list to start the next month.
21. Find Motivation In Watching Others
Sometimes, watching others succeed at something we want to do is the motivation we need to start and stick to it! You can join them in the same plan they are doing or watch, but work at the best plan for you.
At the bottom of this post, you can find the links to all 52 weeks of my decluttering. You can binge on it all at once or read one a week and follow along.
I like watching The Minimal Mom on YouTube when I need decluttering tips and motivation. I often declutter while watching her declutter. It helps the time go faster.
Helpful Resources For Your Decluttering Journey
How To Keep Your House Decluttered
1. Work It Into Your Daily Routine
You can come up with your own daily time slot, but in my home, I generally spend 15 to 30 minutes each evening before I sit down to knit and watch TV, picking up items and putting them away. This keeps our home generally tidy.
2. Set Physical Limits
Each category of stuff needs a limit. One great way to do that is to container-ize as much as possible. You could have a basket for shoes by the door; when it starts to overflow, it is time to go through it and get rid of a few pairs.
Give your hobby limits by saying supplies for it can only take up a certain amount of storage containers. The ideas for this rule are endless.
3. Always Have a Donation Box
Never stop tossing. Purchase an extra laundry basket or use a container you already own and place it somewhere you visit in your house, often like your laundry room or hall closet. Whenever you are tidying up for the day, if you pick up an item you know isn’t getting used, put it in the box.
4. Label Where The Stuff Goes
Once you are done decluttering, it is time to purchase a label maker and go label crazy, especially if you share your home with others. That way, there is no excuse for things not to go back where they belong. With things in their place, you can quickly tell if you are getting too much of something.
5. Create Inventory Rules
Here are a few examples of inventory rules:
Your linen closet shall contain no more than one extra set of sheets per bed in your home.
The blanket basket in the living room shall not have more than three blankets in it.
If you bring an item of clothing in, you have to let go of an item.
6. Always Have A Decluttering Project On The Go
As we live our lives, we go through seasons. Different things are needed for different seasons; therefore, decluttering is a constant need. However, once your house is caught up, you can pick a short and simple decluttering plan that works for you.
Recommended Books For Decluttering Success
How To Declutter Your Day So You Can Declutter Your Home
Do you feel like you would love to get rid of the stress your cluttered home is causing you but don’t know how to squeeze time to declutter into your already cram-packed life?
I recommend taking Make Over Your Mornings and/or Make Over Your Evenings. Each of the 15 days of lessons consists of a five-minute video, five minutes of reading, and a five-minute workbook activity.
The information I learned in the Make Over Your Evenings course gave me 30 minutes every morning without getting up earlier. The Makeover Your Mornings course is just as full of great time-saving advice that can help you carve out time to rid your house of clutter and finally make your home the haven you know it could be.
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