where to start when decluttering your stuff
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Where To Start When Decluttering

Where to start when decluttering is one of the top questions I get asked as a professional organizer, so I am sharing my tips with you!

Does this sound like you…I am so overwhelmed with all the stuff in my house but I have no idea where to start. I know I need to get rid of stuff but I don’t know where to start when decluttering my home. These statements have been shared with me over and over again. It can be so tricky to figure out where to start. You might get that giant urge to declutter so you start in one area. Then you go to put something away in a different area of the house and realize that area is a mess so you start to declutter that area. Then you find something in that new area that doesn’t belong there so you go to put that away and realize that this new space is a total disaster. So you start to declutter that room only to find something that doesn’t belong there so you go to put it away in the first room you started. Only to realize you never finished the first room you were planning to organize. Now your home is a mess and you are stressed. How can you combat this crazy declutter game you just participated in? I have six tips that will help.

Where To Start When Decluttering

Get Clear On What Organizing Means To You

The very first step to any organizing project is to get clear on what organizing means to you. Do you want a picture-perfect organized home? Or do you want to be able to find things? Get crystal clear on what that means. I have a free cheat sheet to help you get an idea of what organized means to you! This is going to be super helpful, especially when it comes time to start decluttering and organizing. When you are clear on what “done” looks like, you will get there quicker.


Make A Plan For Where To Start When Decluttering

My second tip for where to start when decluttering is creating a plan for your declutter. By creating a plan, you are going to stick to that plan instead of jumping around from room to room, trying to declutter but only making a mess instead. To create your plan, write down the specific area or room you are going to tackle. The reason being is that by writing down exactly what you plan to do, you can redirect yourself back to that plan. It helps keep you on track and guides you through where your focus should be. 

I like to start with defining the specific area you are going to declutter. How long the task will take needs to be estimated. Just give yourself a time frame to help keep your brain focused for that amount of time. I typically recommend saying about 1 hour before you have your first break. Then how you are going to declutter that area. The how is going to help you with items that don’t belong in that particular area.


Let’s say you are going to declutter your junk drawer. You made your plan to declutter your junk drawer. You give yourself one hour to complete the task. The “how” for this project is that you are going to empty drawer on the counter, only put back items that you want to keep in that drawer. Then put the extra items in whatever place they belong but NOT DECLUTTER THAT AREA!!

Another plan you might make is to declutter your closet. You give yourself 1 day to complete the project with 10 minutes breaks every 50 minutes. You set your timer to help you. The “how” for this project is to scan the closet for clothes you know you don’t want to keep. Then you are going to group and try on clothes so you only keep what you wear. 

The “how” of the plan will help you get clear on the actual project. It sounds so silly but it truly helps keep you focused!

grabbing items inside side by side refrigerator

Start Small

When starting to declutter, I highly recommend starting on a really small project. A junk drawer or one pile of paper. The thinking behind this? When you start small but give yourself more time, you are going to be able to actually finish the project AND get an idea for how long a project takes. This will help you better define how long other projects may take.

Plus you won’t get as overwhelmed with a smaller project as you would with a larger project. This will keep the momentum going for your next declutter project!

Get Cleaning Items First

Another thing I recommend is getting only the cleaning items out before you start decluttering. I recommend this for a few reasons. First being that you are going to need them anyway so why not grab them first. And second because when you start decluttering and then have to go grab the supplies, you can get distracted by other things. So having those items ready before you start will limit the distractions that may happen!

If there are a few areas around your house that you plan to declutter, create a declutter caddie. Fill the caddie with cleaning supplies, garbage bags, Post-It notes, pens, label maker, scissors, and shelf liner. Then use that caddie to declutter every area of your house without worrying that you are missing anything! It is probably the best place to start when deciding where to start when decluttering.

Jessica sitting on the floor organizing kids toys and declutter without making a mess. #organizingkids

Limit Excess Decisions

Have you ever noticed that towards the end of the day you feel burnt out? Like you struggle with what to make for dinner if you don’t have anything planned. Or you cannot figure out what to watch on tv. That feeling is called decision fatigue. And it is a real thing that can stop you from your decluttering. To combat that, I suggest limiting decisions that do not involve decluttering on your day of declutter. 

To limit decisions, make a plan the night before. Included in the plan should be what meals you will eat, what clothes you will wear, and what the kids will be doing. This way you don’t have to think about anything but if you want to keep an item or not. 

When you take away unnecessary decision making before you declutter, your mind is free to make fast decisions. If you want to learn more on decision fatigue, check out the posts below:

How to Conquer Decision Fatigue

How To Get Rid Of Stuff Without Making A Mess

Where To Start Decluttering Your Home

Go Back To What Organizing Means

As you are decluttering your things, always go back to your definition of organized. Go back to what that looks like for you. Use that as your gauge for when you can be done. I have had some in-home organizing clients who wouldn’t let us be done until every single bin had a vinyl label on it with what goes in there. I have had other in-home clients who were fine using Post-It notes on the drawers and used tape to keep them there. You just have to look at what organized looks like for you. And remember that as you are going through the process. 


By following these tips for where to start when decluttering, you are sure to clear your home of clutter in no time! Make sure you have a clear expectation of what organized looks like for you. Then make a plan. The plan also helps limit decision fatigue on the day you declutter. Which will help you make better decisions. Start small so you get an idea of how long a project will take and give yourself the motivation to do more. Make a declutter caddie to hold all the items you need for the declutter. 


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3 thoughts on “Where To Start When Decluttering”

  1. Pingback: Declutter Caddy: What It Is And Why You Need One - The Organized Mama

  2. Pingback: Do You Really Need Products To Organize? - The Organized Mama

  3. Pingback: Why You Need To Get Rid Of Your Junk Drawer - The Organized Mama

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