I get it. Decluttering your entire home is very overwhelming. You start a task and get really good momentum. You create piles of things to keep and things to purge. The piles get bigger and you feel on top of the world! But then you hit a road block. A questionable item comes into your hands. You are unsure of where to put that particular item. So you decide to look online. Then you get sidetracked. By the time you look up from your phone, you realize you’ve lost all motivation. So you jam everything back in the drawer and decide to finish the project later.
Check out my tips below to help switch your thought process from thinking like you do now to thinking like a professional organizer!
How to Think Like a Professional Organizer While Decluttering Your Home
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Make a Plan
Start by making a plan. What is the are you want to declutter? What is the goal you want to accomplish? Give yourself specific plans when starting any task. Because, let’s say, you hire a professional organizer to help you organize a space in your home. You talk about what area you are going to tackle and how you want it to look, right? So why is it that when you start to declutter you don’t give yourself the same expectations?
Be rather thorough in what you think you want to accomplish. Decluttering doesn’t always need to be a big project, so really getting specific in what you want to do will help you figure out how much time you need.
For me, I can usually help a client declutter a small walk-in closet in 3-5 hours. Toys take about 5-8 hours. Kitchens can take a few days depending on the amount of items that are in them. Paper always takes longer than you expect, so we set timers and use that as the goal rather than declutter all the papers. For example, our goal might be to declutter as many papers as we can in 30 minutes. Then we can start filing them as a “break”. Then set the timer for another 30 minutes. It just helps if you have large piles of paper clutter you have to go through.
Stick to the Plan
Once you set the plan–you have to stick to the plan! Yes, you may find something that needs to go in the basement or bedroom or kitchen. Keep it by the door until you are done with your project. Then put them where they need to go once you finish.
This will help with the “squirrel complex”. You know the complex where a dog is walking along and they see a squirrel and forget everything they were doing to chase that squirrel. I want you to commit to finishing the project you planned before even thinking about starting a new project.
Then, when you go to bring things to other areas of your home, do not start to organize that space. Simply put that item in that room or near other items like it. Then walk away. I recommend this because you will easily get overwhelmed and sidetracked because you don’t have a plan yet for that space!
Ask Yourself Guiding Questions While Decluttering
As you are going through items, I want you to ask yourself guiding questions. This step is so important to me, I created a FREE cheat sheet with the decluttering questions I ask my clients all the time! These questions are to be used to help guide you through the decluttering process.
I use these questions with clients at every session!! The reason why these questions are so important is because they help you focus on the “why” of keeping things. Instead of saying something like “I may use this one day”, you turn your focus to “do I want to bring this item with me into my future?” Or “Do I want to handle this item again?”
You really look at how that item is used instead of the possibility that you may use it one day.
Get your free cheat sheet below:
Continue to Ask Guiding Questions as You Put Things Away
Once you go through all the items, put them away and ask yourself the guiding decluttering questions again. This reaffirms that everything you are keeping is worth saving, keeping, displaying, and using. I am not a fan of the “touch it once” method. This method is where you touch an item one time and have to make a decision about that item right then and there. I find it difficult for clients to do if they are unsure. That is why I like these guiding decluttering questions to ask throughout the entire organizing process.
The questions should really get you to think about the items you keep and help with the items you may be iffy about keeping. And check out these tips from other professional organizers!
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Refer Back to Questions Weekly
Decluttering isn’t a one-time thing. In order to think like a professional, you have to make this new thinking a habit. This will help you maintain whatever organizing system you set up! So the guiding decluttering questions can be used daily, weekly, monthly, or whenever you see an item that you aren’t sure about keeping.
Think about it this way. You get dressed in the morning and you pick up a shirt. You tilt your head to the side, shake your head and put it back on the hanger. In that split second you have a choice. You can keep that shirt hanging in your closet because it goes with another outfit or you can discard because you know you will never wear it again. This is how you maintain organizing–by making decisions quickly. That shirt can easily be taken off the hanger and tossed into a bag of unwanted clothes in your closet. Then you can donate that bag once it is full.
By keeping a bag or box for donations, you are able to easily declutter things quickly. Just ask yourself the guiding decluttering questions. As you go about your day you can make those decisions quickly and declutter as you go. And if you make this a habit, you can have an organized, clutter-free home, too!