It’s normal to procrastinate anything that feels tedious, boring, or overwhelming — and decluttering your house can certainly be all of those things. While coming home to a clean and organized space is a luxury, it can be hard to keep things tidy throughout the week. Add in pets, kids, or roommates and it can be even more challenging to maintain a spotless home.
To help you declutter your abode in the most efficient way, we talked to two professional organizers to find out exactly how they go about sprucing up their own space. You can use their methods and tips to quickly tackle the mess in your own home — stress-free, of course.
Here’s a hard truth: The longer you put off decluttering, the worse the mess will get (it's an easy decluttering mistake to make).“The important thing is to start somewhere,” says Pam Clyde, a professional organizer and founder of BritLin Cleaning. “Decide what can be done in one morning or afternoon and tackle that space first.”
If dedicating a large chunk of your day to decluttering sounds like your worst nightmare, simply tell yourself that you’re just going to clean up for 5 minutes. Once you get started, it’s likely that you’ll see progress and that you’ll want to keep up with the momentum.
Keep a goal in mind
It always helps to create a goal when decluttering. That way, when you feel overwhelmed, you can remember your why. Do you want to feel proud of your space when you host guests? Do you want to come home to a calming and welcoming atmosphere? Think of a goal that will positively impact you and your life to make it more enticing to tidy up.
Clyde notes that it can also be helpful to create a vision of what you want your space to look like. Use photos from Pinterest or Instagram to inspire you to take action. “You can also play some great music as you work to get you in the mood,” Clyde says.
Set out your supplies
Shira Gill, an organization expert and the bestselling author of Minimalista, is a big believer in setting up a workstation in order to make the decluttering process a breeze. Luckily, when decluttering, you just need a handful of supplies, like inexpensive storage bins.
“Mesh pop-up bins are fantastic because they don’t take up any storage space,” says Gill. “You can pop them up and put labels on them.”
For example, if you’re decluttering an office, you could have designated bins for items that should be shredded, recycled, and filed. “Any vessel will work but you want something that’s open and that will stand up on its own, like paper bags or baskets.”
Create decluttering categories
Once your workstation is ready to go, Gill recommends that you think through your decluttering categories so you can take action in an efficient way. Some of the most-used categories tend to be: trash, recycle, donate, sell, and shred.
You may occasionally come across items that don’t fit into these categories, like a sweater you need to return to a friend or a book you need to take back to the library. Set those items in your car or near your keys so you’re reminded to take them back ASAP.
Consider what you can get rid of
Having worked for a professional organizer for almost 15 years, Gill says that most clutter problems are related to volume. Consider the items in your home and ask yourself if they’re things you truly enjoy, use, or find joy from.
If they aren’t, then it might be time to part ways. You can see a lot of instant impact from paring down the amount of stuff in your space.
Set up a donation pickup
To avoid having bins of donations sitting in your space for weeks on end, Gill suggests setting up a donation pickup or at least researching where you can drop your items off ahead of time. This eliminates the risk of having more clutter accumulate over time — it’s time to say goodbye!
Put your donations in your car
Unless you’ve already scheduled a donation pickup, it’s smart to immediately place your donation bins in your car. “When I end a session with a client, I walk them to their car and put things in their trunk instead of leaving them by the front door,” Gill explains. “Sometimes that’s half the battle.”
If you’ve done the legwork and already have everything in your trunk, it will be easier to drop it off while you’re out running errands or heading home from work.
Making decluttering a regular habit might not be the number one thing you want to add to your bucket list, but it will ultimately help you enjoy your space more. The more frequently you take time to tidy up, the less of a commitment it will be. It will also get easier to go through the process the more often you do it. Keep your goals in mind and you’ll find the chore to be a breeze!