Whenever you open cabinets, there’s a “stuff avalanche.” You have to force drawers to close because they’re overstuffed with T-shirts you haven’t worn in years. You spend unnecessary time searching for lost items, only to find them after you’ve already purchased a replacement. Your kitchen island has become an overflow junk drawer, so you have no space to cook or do homework with your kids. Sound familiar? It might be time to learn how to declutter your home.
Keeping clutter under control can feel like a daunting project – life keeps us busy enough as it is! But the long-term benefits of learning how to declutter your home far outweigh the initial feeling of being overwhelmed.
It’s no surprise that having a disorderly home is not ideal, but did you know that clutter is more than just a physical burden and can affect you psychologically? A study on the negative effects of clutter by Dr. Joseph Ferrari, Ph. D., a professor at DePaul University, found that clutter can lead to increased stress levels, reduced focus, and decreased overall well-being.
Decluttering your home is a bold act of self-love. You’re creating a space that nurtures your mental health and promotes a sense of calm. Decluttering goes beyond aesthetics; it’s about creating space for what matters most in your life.
1. Reduced stress and anxiety levels
2. Increased productivity and focus
3. Enhanced mental clarity and creativity
4. Improved overall well-being and quality of life
5. Allows you to appreciate and utilize the items that hold genuine value to you.
“What if I need it again in the future?”
“I spent so much money on this, I can’t get rid of it!”
“Someone gave this to me, I feel bad getting rid of it.”
These are just a few examples of the objections we hear to decluttering. Psychologists call this thought process the sunk cost fallacy – the tendency for people to be reluctant to give something up because they have invested time, money, or energy into it, even if it is no longer beneficial. More often than not, it costs you more to hold onto it than to declutter! The truth is, the money is gone, and keeping an item in your home that you never use does not bring it back.
And while it’s always nice to receive a gift, you are not obligated to keep said gift until the end of time! You can appreciate the thought and care behind the gift, while still giving yourself permission to let it go once it’s no longer wanted or needed. Remember, the feeling of guilt is temporary, but the clutter that gifts kept out of obligation create is constant until you make the empowering decision to say, “Goodbye!”
Before you dive headfirst into tackling your entire house at once, take a pause to identify your “why” and then set clear, obtainable goals. Are you preparing for a move? Has the clutter become overwhelming? Has your youngest little one outgrown the last of the hand-me-downs? The answers to these questions will help you determine which spaces you start with first.
Attempting to declutter your entire home in one day is a daunting task for most! We recommend prioritizing the spaces that affect your stress levels the most – these are typically the spaces we spend the most time in, such as our kitchen, bedroom, or office. If your priority space is your office, start with one or two of your desk drawers, for example. Conquering a small but satisfying space will give you the confidence and momentum you need to continue your decluttering journey!
Now that we have a plan, let’s get into the fun part! Depending on your definition of fun, of course 😉
Set yourself up for success by getting all of your supplies ready in advance. This is your opportunity to accomplish some bonus decluttering by reusing the pile of Amazon boxes you’ve been collecting! Declutter your home like a professional organizer with the help of these items:
The first thing that needs to be done for you to declutter your home is to clear out any trash and items that don’t belong in the space you’re working in. Things like dishes that have somehow migrated from the kitchen, tags and packaging from those clothes you just bought, empty water bottles, crumpled receipts, etc. All of these things create visual clutter and take up valuable space that you’ll need when you start step 4. This step is the decluttering equivalent to making your bed in the morning – it’s a very achievable goal that makes a huge difference and builds momentum for the rest of the process.
Begin taking items out of the space they’re currently in, and place them into categories so that you can assess your inventory of items. For example, if you’re decluttering your junk drawer you might have a category for writing utensils, another category for hardware (nails, screws, etc.), and another category for electronic accessories, etc. Having items in palatable piles will allow you to truly see what you have, so you can easily move on to step 5.
After you have your palatable piles of categorized items, it’s time to make decisions about what you’ll keep, what will be donated, and what ultimately needs to be trashed. We’ll be honest, this is the hard part of learning how to declutter your home. As you go through your items and inevitably stumble across those forgotten “treasures,” those pesky excuses we talked about earlier will start to creep in. Instead of focusing on the “what ifs,” remind yourself of your “why” and use that for motivation to keep going. Think of it this way – every item you decide to keep in your home is one you have to find or create a home for and you have to clean or maintain it.
A popular suggestion for deciding whether or not to remove an item from your home is to ask yourself if an item brings you joy. While we understand the sentiment of this suggestion, we find that asking questions surrounding the logistics of the item makes decluttering easier. Something bringing you joy or happiness is subjective, and that feeling can change over time, but considering how you actually use an item and what value it brings to you is a more concrete metric to use when making decisions.
Break out your supplies from Step 2 to keep this part of the process organized and streamlined. Don’t forget to clean as you go – your future self will thank you!
Now that the hard part is behind you, it’s time to pop open a bubbly beverage and give yourself a pat on the back. You can start to enjoy your home again and you’ll soon feel the benefits of having a decluttered home. Now that you know how to declutter your home, be sure to revisit these steps on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to maintain your decluttered home long-term.
If you’re now ready to start your organizing journey, be sure to check out our Guide to The Container Store and our blog on how to keep your home tidy. Not sure where to begin? Our team of Organizers is ready to help – contact us here.
The first rule of donations: don’t let them sit! How many times have you kept a bag of clothes for donation in your garage, only for it to linger for months and become clutter once again? We’ve all been there. The remedy for this is to remove these items from your home as fast as possible. If you choose to sell your items, be realistic about what will sell in a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes it’s more worthwhile to give it away than have it sitting for months waiting to be sold.
With any entity that accepts donations, be sure to check their website or call in advance to ensure they can accept your donation.
1. Goodwill: They have numerous locations across Atlanta and accept a wide range of gently used items.
2. Atlanta Habitat for Humanity ReStore: Donations support affordable housing initiatives, and they accept furniture, appliances, and more.
3. Salvation Army: They have multiple thrift stores in the Atlanta area and accept various household items.
4. Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta: They provide furniture to families in need and accept gently used furniture donations.
5. Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM): They are one of the few places that can accept household hazardous waste and items that might not be able to be donated such as used mattresses, electronics, paint, fire extinguishers, appliances, and more.
1. Local Shelters: Contact local shelters, women’s shelters, or transitional housing programs to see if they are in need of donations.
2. Schools and Community Centers: They may appreciate donations of gently used furniture, books, and educational materials.
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