One of my goals last year was to get rid of all the clutter in my room, and actually have space to put things away without having to cram it all in!
Decluttering has always been something I’ve had trouble with. I’m naturally a hoarder (and I loathe this about myself), so when it comes to clutter, it can be a real effort getting rid of things when I don’t need them anymore.
If you’re like me, and clearing out isn’t one of your strong suits, I’ve written a list of tips that always help me when I need to get stuck into it:
1. Write a checklist
If you’ve seen a few of my other posts, you’ll likely already have guessed that I am a huge lover of lists.
I like to write down a checklist for almost everything in my life: as sad as it sounds, ticking things off gives me a kind of happy little buzz. So when it comes to clearing out things in my flat, before I even attempt anything I write down all the things I want to get through.
I tend to focus on compartmentalising my space: so for my bedroom, I’d note down my wardrobe, my ottoman, my bookshelves and my chest of drawers. Then I tend to go a step further by splitting them down again. So under my little wardrobe bullet point I have a top shelf, some hanging shelves and also a couple of hat boxes at the bottom, as well as the hanging space I have for dresses.
Having everything written down in front of you makes it easier for you to prioritise them, and gives you a visual cue: when you’ve crossed one off, you can see how much closer you are to finishing up.
2. Figure out your clearing space
By ‘clearing space’ (for want of a better term), I mean the space you’re going to use while you’re sorting through your things.
If you’re sorting out a room with a large floor space your clear space might be a certain section of the floor, or if you have a small room, you might need to use a table or a bed. Whatever it is, make sure it’s easy to get to, and that it gives you enough space to separate things out into piles.
Having a space you can dedicate to the decluttering process is helpful, because not only does it act as a kind of platform for you to put your things on when you’re sorting through what clothes to keep, or what make up to throw out, it’s a space that allows you to focus in a way that minimises distractions.
3. Turn off distractions
When I was younger and wanted to get things done, I used to put the tv on so I could “have something in the background while I focused”. Years later, I’ve slowly come to the realisation that this isn’t really the best way to go: more often than not when the tv’s on, I’ll focus more on that than the actual task I set out to do.
If you’re someone who’s able to focus easily, then by all means, skip this step! But for those who do have trouble, it helps to try and turn these distractions off. I personally find it helpful to put on some meditation music, something calming that also provides that “background noise” I tend to crave when I need to focus.
Conversely, some people do find that having the tv on helps to give them that kick to get things done: my friend recently admitted she likes to have Queer Eye on the background while she attends to life admin and likewise, I have another friend who’s obsessed with watching Marie Kondo while she blitzes her flat! Both of which are much more acceptable than the episodes of Friends I would tend to have playing in the past…
4. Time yourself in short bursts
Again, this is advice I’m giving to people who, like myself, get easily distracted when it comes to big tasks and therefore need to find ways to get them done without burning ourselves out.
This tip is probably the most useful thing for me. I’ll pick something off my checklist, and I’ll give myself a deadline, like: “I will finish sorting through my desk drawer by 12pm” or “Before I go for dinner, I will sort out my sock drawer”.
Make them small, simple tasks that your brain will be able to process as a quick task, and time yourself accordingly. The bigger the task, the less likely you are to actually want to do it, so make it a simple one and make sure you give yourself a reasonable time slot to get it done.
Even if you’re hoping to spend the day decluttering, splitting down the tasks into short time slots will really help you be more productive with your time.
5. Sort things into piles
This one’s a doozy, and something you’ll all know anyway, but I’ll add it to this list for clarity’s sake.
To save time, rather than going back and forth to the bin, the recycling bin, to the charity shop, and so on, set up a piling system. For me, I have Charity, Keep, Bin, Recycle, Memory, and To File piles, and I like to write them on sticky notes so I don’t forget which one’s which.
Most are self explanatory, but the To File pile is basically anything paper-related that I need to sort into files (either for banking, notes that I’ve taken for work, or study notes from courses I might be doing). It just helps to keep those separate from the miscellaneous Keep pile.
The Memory pile is basically a pile of the things I want to keep as a keepsake or for memory’s sake, which I then keep in a small box and just keep adding to. You obviously don’t need to do this, but I like keeping things, and it helps to separate them rather than keep in a huge Keep pile to sort through afterwards, plus I wanted to highlight that despite decluttering being a good thing, if you want to keep something for no other reason than “you want to”, then keep it!
6. Clear it out ASAP!
I’m guilty of not organising my piles after I’ve sorted them out, for far longer than necessary. I’ll have everything in separately labelled bags: “for charity”, “for recycling”, “to throw”, etc… But when it comes to taking those things out of my flat, it seems to be something I’m very good at procrastinating on.
And that is why I’ve added it to this list. Because it’s still an effort to do, and the longer you have them around, the more time you’ll get to wonder “hmm, do I really want to get rid of it?”, and the more it’s going to declutter your space!
So as soon as you’ve decided what’s going where, take it there! Just get it out!
These are the steps I’ve been taking when I get down to decluttering my space, and I feel like they’ve really helped me progress when it comes to tackling my hoarder-like ways.
How do you go about decluttering your space?