I’ve been an organizing type of person since I was a child. I started decluttering and organizing for others in the 1990s, when friends would ask me to help tidy their closets, kitchens or storage.
I enjoy helping people transform their homes and want to share what I’ve learned along the way.
Ready to tackle your home clutter? Here are some tips to get you started.
Understand that decluttering / organizing is a process.
People accumulate things from childhood, school, camp, family, friends, exes, trips, clubs, activities, workplaces. Modern shopping technology provides the tools to buy any kind of retail product and have it delivered immediately. We live in a culture of quick, automated material consumption with advertising everywhere we go — both online and offline.
Bringing new stuff into the home without ever letting go of any old stuff is an imbalance. The act of decluttering enables us to find a new balance with our things and our lives. To prevent our possessions from piling up and getting unmanageable, we must evaluate, declutter and organize on a regular basis.
A home decluttering project is not a one-time event. It’s a process. It’s a practice and a steady progression of learning and growth in the art of resetting, rebalancing, and letting go.
In the beginning, tackle smaller projects or areas of the home first.
My favorite place to start is the bathroom.
There are two distinct parts to any project: 1) decluttering and 2) organizing.
The decluttering portion is of paramount importance. Be sure to give yourself some new open space. Decluttering yields a smoother organizing phase.
Back to the bathroom…
How many bottles, jars, containers, packets, doo-dads, etc. are in your bathroom cupboards, shower, linen closet, or sitting out on the counter?
- Assemble every bathroom-related item in one place.
- Pick up every item and evaluate.
- Place anything old, broken, or expired in the trash.
- Recycle any empties / recyclables.
- Set aside the products you use and enjoy for the organizing portion.
- Let go of the rest.
This includes shampoos, shower gels, makeup, medicines, linens, bath toys, hair stuff, electronics, and whatever else may be lurking in the deepest corners of your bathroom.
The next part is organization:
- Designate a “home” for everything you are keeping. For me, I like having only the items that are used throughout the day sitting on top of the counter, like hand soap. My 3 year old likes to keep her suction cup toothbrush by the sink. We have a single bottle of liquid soap in the bathtub, bath toys in the cabinet under the sink, and the rest of our bathroom stuff fits into the medicine cabinet. (Towels, washcloths, extra tissue, a bag of epsom salts, and a small bin of hair accessories are stored in a nearby linen closet). Do whatever makes sense for your unique bathroom routine and current situation, factoring in where you are in life (for instance, perhaps you cut your hair short and no longer need stuff for long hairstyles).
- Remove the items you are not keeping from your home. Upcycle your gently-used stuff to friends. Take out the trash. Recycle whatever you can. Donate to a local non-profit or homeless shelter. Let it all go.
- Deep clean. Clean it like you’ve never cleaned it before. It doesn’t have to be the same day, but get it done. Get into the corners. Wipe down the walls. The medicine cabinet and other fixtures. Every inch of the floor. Open the window. Hang fresh towels.
- Enjoy your fresh, clean, decluttered, organized, easier-to-maintain bathroom.
Pace yourself and ask for help if you need it.
Depending on the amount of stuff you have, it could take days, weeks or even months to get your home in order.
While a kitchen, garage, closet or other area of a home can be decluttered and organized in one weekend, it’s better to pace it out if you’re doing it yourself.
For those who truly struggle with decluttering and organizing, hire an organizing consultant or ask a friend, family member, or neighbor who has solid organizing skills to help you.
An organizing consultant’s role is to help get you started, help guide you, help you when you are stuck. We also motivate you, share our skills, and teach you how to do it yourself.
Decluttering and organizing are unique experiences for everyone. If you have lots of stuff and struggle with letting go, be patient with yourself. Tackle it steadily and regularly. It’s a progression and a process that gets easier the more you do it. And each time you finish a project, you can look around, see the fruits of your labor, and relax in your freshly opened space.