Even if you are not a regular reader of this blog, you are probably motivated to declutter your home.
After all, we’ve all been spending more time at home this past year, Spring cleaning is right around the corner, and more and more media outlets are covering the rise of minimalism. Younger generations are going to extremes by putting all they own into a van, while Baby Boomers are retiring, downsizing, and choosing to save money, time, and energy.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum, decluttering is a great idea! It will help you feel emotionally lighter and allow you to focus on what really matters. It’ll save time, money, and energy. You’ll love it.
Of course, there are different ways and strategies for decluttering your home. If you’re just getting started, or looking for an approach to help you reach the next level, here are 9 modern voices in the decluttering movement.
Find one that works best for you.
9 Decluttering Strategies To Create a Home With Less Stuff
1. Marie Kondo: What Sparks Joy
Professional organizer Marie Kondo, introduced her Spark Joy strategy to the world with her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And she followed that up with a popular Netflix series.
Marie’s strategy focuses on decluttering by category (rather than room-by-room). These 5 categories include clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items. Her strategy encourages you to bring all your items from a category (clothes, for example) into one room and begin sorting.
When decluttering, Marie focuses on getting rid of items that no longer have value to you. She asks you to physically hold a possession and ask yourself if it “sparks joy,” and discard it if it doesn’t (after thanking it for its service).
Her KonMari method will bring you a clutter-free home that will spark more joy in your life.
2. The Becoming Minimalist (Joshua Becker) Method: Room-By-Room Decluttering
My decluttering method focuses on room-by-room decluttering, starting with the easiest, most lived-in areas first. When you begin this way, you’ll immediately notice the benefits of your decluttered spaces, which will motivate you to work on more difficult areas.
I have found the Becoming Minimalist strategy to be the most effective for the most amount of people. Needless to say, I’d recommend you start here.
There are 5 main steps to my method, which is heavily goal-oriented and makes sure to include your entire family:
- Set and define goals for your home and specific rooms so you know what you’re working towards.
- Work to include your family in the process and let them know why you’re decluttering. Getting everyone on board is important.
- Start with the easiest, high-traffic room, and then continue to work room-by-room until complete. Starting with the removal of duplicates, handle each item to determine if it can be removed or relocated in the home.
- Take notice of the benefits of owning less as they arise. Decluttering is life-giving and will affect you in a positive way!
- Finally, revisit and revise your goals; looking for greater impact with your home and life. The process is ongoing and evolving.
3. Peter Walsh Method: Declutter Any Room in 5 Easy Steps
There are just 5 easy steps you need to take to declutter any room with the Peter Walsh Method. The main difference here? Remove every single thing from the room you’re working on. When doing so, make sure to arrange similar items together so it will be easier to sort through them later.
Empty the space. Remove everything from the room! Next, declare your intention for the room and create a vision. Ask yourself, “What do I want from this room?” This will help you decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Next, take the items you’re decluttering and donate or trash them immediately. Last, return the items to your room to complete your vision. Peter Walsh uses these simple steps in every episode of his show, Enough Already! to help families get rid of overwhelming clutter.
4. Fly Lady: Do a Little Every Day
With the Fly Lady method, you declutter in short bursts and use a 15-minute timer. The goal is to avoid burning yourself out, since decluttering can be a mind-boggling task.
Sort your items into three categories: “Give Away,” “Throw Away,” and “Put Away.” When considering individual items, ask yourself if you love the item, and if you’ve used it recently. Remove duplicate items and keep the better one. Also, think about whether an item has sentimental value, or if it gives you guilt and causes sadness when you see it.
Fly Lady recommends moving fast when you’re in a decluttering sprint. By doing a little every day, your whole house will be decluttered in just a couple of months.
5. Colleen Madsen: Remove 1 Item a Day
Colleen Madsen’s site, 365 Less Things, debuted when she made the decision to remove one item from her home every single day. She committed to giving away, selling, or throwing away one thing each day for one solid year as a promise to herself via a New Year’s resolution. This journey continued for Colleen for four years!
Colleen urges you to start a little purging of your own. Whether you choose one item per day with her philosophy, or more than one to increase the speed of your decluttering, the goal is to declutter every single day—don’t overwhelm yourself.
I tend to think you can make faster progress in your home than just one item per day, but there are many people who have found the slower pace helpful and doable (just be sure you’re not bringing more than one item into your home each day).
A similar decluttering strategy is the Minimalism Game where you remove a number of items coinciding with the day of the month. On the 1st day of the month, you remove 1 item… on the 5th day, you remove 5 items… all through the entire month.
6. The Minimalists Packing Party
If “Party” is in the name, it must be fun, right? Why not make your decluttering journey enjoyable? With this decluttering philosophy created by The Minimalists, the packing party invites you to put all of your possessions into boxes as if you were moving. Invite friends over to help and order pizza.
After the party, remove items from your boxes only as you actually need them. These are the things that add value to your life.
After 3 weeks, you’ll find most of your belongings are still packed away in boxes. At this point, you can donate, sell, or trash these items, and because they’re already packed, you’ll find it much easier to part with it!
7. Leo Babauta: A Comprehensive Guide for a Minimalist Home
Leo Babauta, longtime writer at Zen Habits and one of my earliest inspirations into minimalism, offers a comprehensive guide to creating a minimalist home. There are 3 compelling benefits Leo mentions about having a more minimalist home: it’s less stressful and more calming, it’s more appealing, and it’s easier to clean.
A minimalist home will have only essential furniture, clear surfaces, will prioritize quality over quantity, and will still have personal touches with accent decorations. Leo invites you to change your philosophy on possessions and aim for the ideals of a minimalist home. In his guide, he provides 16 simple tips to declutter, some of which include plain visuals, having a place for everything, and focusing on displaying only the essentials.
Leo’s approach may sound too extreme for some. But it’s your home, you apply the principles how you want to apply them.
8. 40 Bags in 40 Days
In 2011, Ann Marie introduced a simple idea: A forty-day period (coinciding with the 40 days of Lent) where you go through your home and declutter one area a day.
The idea immediately struck a chord with many volunteering to do the challenge alongside her. Annually, it results in one of the largest decluttering movements of the year, including a Facebook group with over 80,000 participants.
This year’s 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge started on Wednesday, February 17th. But if the idea resonates with you, I’d encourage you to get started right away.
The strategy is helpful as you choose the 40 areas that you most want to declutter over the 40 days. And the idea of “filling a bag” encourages more decluttering than just 1 item/day, without becoming overwhelming.
9. Hire Some Decluttering Help (NAPO or NASMM)
Don’t want to declutter by yourself? Enlist the help of NAPO: the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals. The organization has over 3,500 members worldwide who are dedicated to help individuals and organizations bring order and efficiency to their lives.
Or, if you are moving, you may consider enlisting the help of NASMM: the National Association of Senior & Specialty Move Managers.
Both organizations would help guide you on how to hire the right professional for your needs, whether you need decluttering help, a professional organizer, a professional mover, or any combination. As you might expect, fees depend on the professional’s experience, your location, and the services you request.
Without overthinking the options, which strategy resonates the most with you? Pick one, and jump in.
No matter which approach you take, you’ll quickly discover the benefits of decluttering your home. You’ll love owning less.