If you follow our socials or our podcast, you know a few weeks ago before the new year I decided to start doing all the things I needed to do, but never got done and decluttering my house. We are a set it and forget about it family, meaning surfaces are our biggest issue. They are constantly cluttered and it’s become a habit we really need to break.
Like many people, I am one of those people that start cleaning and end up getting distracted and cleaning something else. For example if I’m in the kitchen and need to replace the old washcloth with a new, when I head into my room to put it in the hamper I’ll start picking up my room. Then I’ll notice the baseboards need cleaned and head to the kitchen for a bucket, where I’ll remember I was getting a washcloth to do the dishes. See where I’m going with this? It’s a curse really. Usually the things like baseboards, decluttering, and things of the sort that don’t need done daily tend to get forgotten about, so they were all on my list of things to get done.
One thing I forgot about when I started my big list of things I still needed to do was how much work and how messy it was. The more I tried to declutter, the messier the house got. The more I tried to clean, the more I felt like the house was getting worse. I was so not prepared for the task I had taken on. I never set a timeline, I just wanted to get that list completed. I wanted to start the year off fresh with everything possible done, including all the seasonal cleaning that I sometimes forget (2020 had different rules, don’t judge me).
My main focus when it came to decluttering was surfaces. As I mentioned before, we are a set it and forget it family, that means we tend to set stuff down and forget it exists, thereby creating clutter on every and any flat surface. The entrance way table, the kitchen table, on top of the piano, the entertainment center, every surface. Not only that, but every drawer, cubby, ect. It was one of those things that became a new normal for us. It was awful and things should have changed a long time ago. Better late than never.
My Decluttering Process
I started by cleaning out all the drawers, cubbies, and surfaces that had become catchalls and cluttered. I sorted through everything to decide what should be kept, thrown away, or moved to its rightful place. Then I cleaned all the surfaces by washing and dusting them. Anything that belonged on the surface, drawer, or cubby where it was, was put back in an organized manner. Anything that was garbage was placed in a trash bag, and anything that needed to be put somewhere else was put on our kitchen table to be put away later.
Once everything in the main living area was cleaned, organized, and decluttered, I started on the kitchen table. I grabbed as much stuff as I could carry based on where it belonged in the house and took it to its rightful place – the bathrooms, pantry, bedrooms, office, and garage. Some stuff was again set on a surface until I could get to that room. Once the kitchen table was clear and everything was put away, I washed the table.
The process was repeated in my bedroom as well. Everything was sorted through. The garbage went in the trash bag, anything that didn’t belong went on my bed to be rehomed later, and everything else was organized into its rightful place. All surfaces were dusted and washed. For the shelves in my room I bought some of those little baskets that go in the cubbies. I stayed very diligent to make sure they had a ‘category’ of stuff that went into them to prevent myself from throwing random things in a creating cluttered drawers.
Once everything was cleaned, organized, and all the garbage was thrown out, I started on the bed. I grabbed things depending on the room they belonged to and put them away. I then repeated this process through the rest of the house. Cleaning out all drawers, cubbies, surfaces, ect. There was an incredible freeing feeling just to see many of the cluttered surfaces clutter free for what felt like the first time. Definitely a sign on my mental health over the years.
Maintaining A Clutter Free Home
I wasn’t sure after all the work I put in, which took days to complete, how I would maintain a clutter free, more organized home. What worked for me may not work for you, but here’s what I did. To start I made a point of not placing things down. I started holding onto things until I got to whatever room they belonged in and put them away. I knew if I set things down I wouldn’t pick them back up again. If it’s something I have to set down because my hands are full, I make a point of remembering it’s there and look at it from time to time until I pick it back up and put it away.
The next thing I did was make a list of things I needed to do. Everyday has something different that needs to be done besides the usual cleaning. The biggest on on that list is organizing/checking surfaces, which is strategically placed halfway throughout the week from dusting. This causes me to check all the surfaces and put away anything that may have been left there. Dusting is something I always do, but it doesn’t really need done that often. By placing it on my list weekly and between organizing/checking surfaces, it causes me to check the surfaces at least twice a week to make it more of a habit.
The last thing I did was remind my family every time they set something down that it needs to be put away. The mess and clutter wasn’t created by just me, we are all in this together. It’s been quite the change for us. We all had to learn to break that habit and put stuff away instead of setting it down and forgetting about it. It didn’t take long reminding my family to put things away before they figured it out and now it’s not really a problem as much as it used to be.
Tips For Decluttering
I don’t have many tips for decluttering, but from my own experience, this is what I can offer:
- When decluttering you will make a mess before you can clear the mess.
- If you don’t need it, use it, or it doesn’t have a purpose – throw it out or donate it.
- Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to get it all done in one day.
- Starting anywhere is better than not starting at all.
- Staying clutter free takes practice, patience, and time. Forgive yourself if you’re not perfect with it and keep trying.
Now don’t get me wrong, my house wasn’t that bad. The surfaces were cluttered with random stuff, but there was still space on those surfaces. It was just one of those things that bugged me. It seemed like everytime I tried to declutter, my mental health would get the best of me or it just seemed like too much of a task to take on. I have no regrets now. At first it was weird to see. It felt like our house was so empty, but it wasn’t. It was clutter free and that made it weird to see, but it was freeing to have everything clutter free and organized.
I’m happy to announce although it has only been a few weeks, we have been able to maintain a clutter free zone. There’s still a few rooms that need some decluttering, but it’s a process and we’re working on it. What worked for me to organize, rid my house of clutter, and stay clutter free may not work for you. That’s okay. Figure out what works for you and do that instead. You will so much better after you do. It’s a process. Take it slow. Don’t overwhelm yourself. You got this.