We’ve all been there — you invite friends over at the last minute, but as you look around, you realize your house is a total mess. This can be stressful and overwhelming, but it shouldn’t keep you from entertaining or having fun — some of the best days happen on a whim, right?
While you might not have time to clean your whole house, you can quickly declutter if you’re strategic enough. We tapped Shira Gill, an organization expert and the bestselling author of Minimalista, to source her strongest tips for decluttering a room in just 30 minutes.
Gill’s hacks certainly work when you’re limited on time, but they can also come in handy for speeding up your regular cleaning. Here’s exactly how to get your space in tip-top shape when you’re in a time crunch.
Good to know
Time: 30 minutes
Helpful hints: Toss any items that need to be relocated into a basket that you can sort through when you have more time.
Here’s what you’ll need
- Garbage bags — choose something sturdy and well-sized
- Paper bags — old grocery bags work great for recyclable items
- Tote bags — tote bags you no longer need are ideal for items you want to donate, but any bag will do
- Open basket — choose an open basket, like this OrganiHaus basket from Amazon, to dedicate as a relocation bin
How to declutter a room in 30 minutes
Step 1: Clarify your vision
Before you take action, Gill recommends you take some time to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you simply trying to eliminate volume so your room is easier to organize? Are you trying to create space for a new baby or a life transition?
“Just having a general sense of the reason you’re decluttering can help guide you and keep the momentum going along the way,” Gill notes. Have a goal in mind so you feel more motivated to tackle the mess.
Step 2: Set out your supplies
The key to decluttering quickly is to make the task as easy as possible. “Typically when professional organizers are decluttering a space, they have vessels like a big bag for trash, a paper bag for recycling, an old tote to use for donations, and an open basket for items that need to be relocated.”
Gill uses the relocation basket to collect items that go in other rooms — this makes it easier to distribute them to the right place once you’re done clearing out the clutter.
Step 3: Do a sweep for trash
Nobody wants their house to be filled with trash, so this step should be quick and streamlined. Recycle any junk mail, toss any old receipts, and dispose of any cups or containers that are sitting on your countertops.
Step 4: Do a sweep for items that don’t belong
Say you’re decluttering your kitchen and you see your toothbrush, sunscreen, or your passport — all of those things can be instantly decluttered by dumping them in your relocation bin. That way they’re out of your space, they’re in a safe place, and you can put them back when you have time.
Step 5: Evaluate more thoughtfully (optional)
If you have more time, Gill suggests that you try to evaluate your clutter more thoughtfully. Are there any items in your space that you never use or touch? Are there things you could live happily without? Try to scale back on the items you have in your space so there’s less to keep organized in the first place.
How do you declutter a room quickly?
Start by distinguishing decluttering from cleaning and the task will feel far less intimidating. Decluttering is simply the act of removing or minimizing the amount of unnecessary items in a space. Cleaning, however, is much more involved. Focus on the minimum you have to clear from your space in order to make an impact.
How do you declutter your room when you are overwhelmed?
When you feel like a task is challenging or overwhelming, it’s more likely that you’ll procrastinate. This only allows the mess to pile up and turn into a bigger project later on…. which no one wants.
The key to feeling less overwhelmed by decluttering is to change your mindset. Rather than telling yourself that you have to tidy up your entire home, set out to just tackle one space for 10 minutes. Once you get into a rhythm, you might find that the chore isn’t as difficult as you originally thought, and you might just feel motivated to keep going.