This is the process that I use not only in my own home but also in my client’s homes. It’s simple and can be adapted and implemented in any space in your home. Shelves, cabinets, clothing, anything!
This process doesn’t change - which means as soon as you learn it, you’ll be able to tackle any area on your home with confidence!!
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The first thing you need to know about how to declutter any space is that you need to start on something that can give you a quick win.
Choose a space, or drawer, or area of your home that will take you a very small chunk of time - like an hour or less!
You need to feel the success of decluttering a small space before you are ready to handle the big, stressful, emotional areas. Those spaces can usually cause your momentum to slow down.
The second important part of choosing where to begin decluttering is that it can't be too emotional.
Places that have sentiment or emotion tied up in them will make it incredibly difficult to work swiftly and get that initial win.
I personally like to tackle spaces like the laundry room or a section of the kitchen (Like the spice cabinet in the pictures below!). The bathroom is a great place to start too!
These are generally just day-to-day items that don't carry a lot of emotion or sentiment.
Now that you've determined just where you're going to start, let's get down to business.
I wish I had some cool acronym for my process, but at this point it's E.C.S.P.O. any ideas on that??!? Alright, here we go!:
1. Empty it out!
Now I know this isn't fun, and may even seem super daunting. But completely emptying the space out that your working in will give you a clean slate & a fresh start to getting that space organized and functional!
This step is also really important because you can actually see ALL.THE.THINGS.
Which for many people, can be a bit overwhelming!! But it does help you realize how much stuff you have tucked away that maybe you hadn’t realized before.
ACTION STEP: Pull EVERY single item off the shelf, out of the cabinet or from the space you are working in.
2. Clean it up!
Once you have everything off the shelves, or out of the drawers, do a quick wipe down of the space.
When I'm decluttering a client's home, I like to keep a canister of wipes handy. It makes this step a breeze!
A small handheld vacuum is great to have handy as well!
The reason you want to clean is this: if you are taking the time & energy to declutter and organize, you’ll want to be able to put everything back into a nice fresh and clean space.
It’s worth the work to do this step.
ACTION STEP: Pull out some wipes and get to cleaning!
3. Sort, Sort, Sort!!!
Once the shelves, drawers or space is empty of all the items, you'll really be able to see everything you have.
This is where you'll understand why it's important to empty the space out completely.
I want you to sort, or group, all the like items together. So if you are working in your kitchen pantry, put all of the dry baking items in one area, the baking seasonings together, and so on like that.
Work through all of your items until they are completely sorted.
ACTION STEP: Sort until you have every last item grouped (unless it's a lone ranger, of course!)
4. Purge the excess!
Now that you can easily see everything you have, grouped and sorted together, you'll need to start paring items down.
For example, if you have 5 spatulas in a kitchen drawer, you may want to think about if you really NEED all five to stay in your home.
My guess is, you'll have some "go to" items that are a must stay.
But if you haven't used something for a really long time, if at all, don't keep it!
You can donate it or give it to someone who could actually use it, instead of letting it sit in a drawer and not be useful.
Think about the space you are working with - will you be able to fit everything back in? Will it overflow out, or will you be able to easily find - and see! - everything you are looking for?
It's okay to keep things too! Don't feel like you have to get rid of every little thing.
When I'm working with clients, I like to ask them what items they can already tell they don't need, want, or love first.
If you can get those easy, obvious decisions off your plate you'll be making progress quickly!
Then I ask them what items are a must keep. Things they know they'll use, or things they love.
At this point, we've narrowed items down pretty well, and need to make decisions regarding the remaining items.
We consider how often it's used, if there's space for it, and how much it would cost to replace.
That's the short & sweet of making decisions while decluttering. Of course, it will probably take you some time to actually make them!
ACTION STEP: Remove all the extra stuff you just don't need, use, or love!
5. Organize it!
This is probably my most favorite part of the decluttering & organizing process!
Grab your bins, baskets, or any other storage type items you can round up to organize all the remaining "keep" items.
I personally LOVE to use labels, especially chalkboard labels, but it's technically not necessary to get your spaces decluttered and organized!
Arrange your items in their storage containers back on shelves or into drawers. No worries if you don't have storage baskets or bins!
As long as you can arrange your items in an orderly way that makes sense to you, you will be so much better off after decluttering than you were before!
You may have to arrange, take it down, and arrange again until all of your items work in the space and make sense to you.
Work it around until you get all of your items put away in an organized and functional way!
ACTION STEP: Place everything back on your shelves in their assigned bins or spaces.
Now take a step back and admire your hard work!! It's not easy to look at all of your possessions and try to make those tough decisions, but you did great!!
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