“Get rid of the trash to make room for the treasures. Let the things that are important take center stage.” —Peter Walsh
Decluttering can be tough work.
We spend years and years collecting and accumulating more and more things. We should not be surprised then, if it takes considerable time to make decisions about what to keep and what to remove.
But it’s always worth the effort. Possessions weigh us down and add extra burden to our lives. Owning less results in more freedom.
If you are feeling overwhelmed about where to start or experiencing frustration with your progress, consider some of the ideas on this list to jumpstart your decluttering process.
7 Helpful Tips to Speed Up the Decluttering Process
1. Start easy with a clean sweep. Rather than attempting to declutter your home room-by-room, try going in “waves” instead. You will find this method to be far more impactful—especially at the beginning. Grab a box and walk around your home room-by-room. Fill your box with anything you find that you no longer need. No hard decisions, just noticeable impact. Once completed, try a second wave. But be advised, it gets a little more difficult each time through.
2. Find motivation with built-in deadlines. When we first began the process of minimizing our possessions, I did a lot of the work in the early morning. My kids usually got out of bed at 7am, so I would begin at 6am. Because I wanted to be there when they got up, I knew I had 1 short hour to get as much done as I could. This helped me find extra motivation to accomplish as much as I could during that hour. I also found some extra motivation the night before garbage pick-up.
3. Donate more. If you don’t need the money, you can declutter your home much quicker by deciding just to donate everything. The extra income from reselling your possessions can be nice, especially if you need the money. But selling items can really slow down the process and add extra burden to the journey. If quick impact is more important to you, dropping a few boxes off at Goodwill is far more efficient.
4. Include some help. Contrary to what you may think, you don’t need to do all the work yourself. In fact, if you have a family, you’ve got extra help built right in. You might not be able to convince them to declutter an entire room with you all-day on Saturday, but you can surely find some creative opportunities for them to help. For example, ask everyone in your family to find four things from their room that can be donated. Try again in a few days. The work adds up quickly with 3+ people involved.
5. Find freedom in temporary storage. I know a lot of people get hung up on hard-to-remove items. These vary from person-to-person, but common examples include sentimental items, books, kitchen gadgets, or toys. To keep from getting slowed down by these things, try an intermediate step of packing a box, labeling it with a date, and storing it out of sight. It will be easier emotionally. Six months later, revisit the box. You may be surprised how much easier it is to part with these items after not seeing them for six months.
6. Tell a friend and invite them over. Telling others about your decision to declutter/minimize is an important step. In our book, Simplify, we even included it as one of the most helpful principles in the simplifying process. Sharing your desire brings accountability and forces you to articulate why you made the decision. To add extra urgency to your decluttering progress, invite your friend over for dinner or coffee. Give yourself a few days to prepare the house before their arrival. Trust me… you’ll find motivation real quick.
7. Don’t confuse intent with action. With all things in life, it is important to not confuse a desire to change with actual change. Thinking about decluttering or talking about decluttering won’t result in any positive benefits. These benefits can only be experienced when the excess clutter has been removed. Remind yourself today that talking about change is not the same as implementing change. And take one small step in the right direction because of it.
Decluttering can be tough work. But it’s always worth the effort. If you have been struggling to find momentum, I hope these ideas will encourage you to find some today.