By Liz Aitken, Founder Carefully Sorted
Top tips for how to start decluttering
“I don’t have time. I can’t be bothered.” How often do we find ourselves repeating the same statements when we’re faced with a task we thought about doing but actually never did?
Perhaps one of the easiest chores we often forego is decluttering. Most of us have no idea how much stuff we’ve been accumulating over the years and just the thought of doing it may seem overwhelming because you don’t know how and where to start.
There’s no better time to tackle this daunting task than now! Starting a decluttering project is one way of using your time productively. Not only will you have a spick and span house as a result, but it will also help boost your mental health in the process. I’ve put together a quick guide on how to decluttering without getting overwhelmed.
Where and how to start?
Start small. Here are some easy wins:
- Files of warranties and product manuals – check these and you will undoubtedly find some for equipment you no longer possess
- Your utensil drawer – how many spatulas do you actually use?
- Do you have too many mugs? We all have favorites, and some mugs we never use! If you were making a hot drink, which mug would you use first? What would your second choice be? Do this a few times and set aside two or three favorites for each member of your household and then donate the mugs you habitually leave at the back of the cupboard.
With a few bite-sized projects under your belt, you will probably feel confident to move on to larger areas. Here is a room by room guide. It is helpful, once you’ve started on one room, make sure you do everything you can in that room and don’t be tempted to move to another problem area before you’re happy with this one.
Actions to take in every room
- As you move round the room, put everything which doesn’t belong into a laundry basket or shopping bag
- Wipe surfaces as you go, but save hovering until the room is clear
- Make sure there is a bin in every room to encourage your family to throw rubbish away
- At the end of the session, go through your laundry basket and re-home, donate or throw away the items you have collected
- If papers end up in the kitchen, make sure they are in one place and not in numerous piles on every surface. Check them once a week and act, shred or file as required.
- Look under the sink and throw out old cleaning products. Keep the cleaning products you use regularly in a bucket so they are easy to grab when you need them.
- Check the sell-by dates on food in your fridge and cupboards
- Look on top of the fridge and the units. Could you store these items somewhere more accessible? Do you even know what’s up there? Can some of it go?
- Too many fridge magnets can look very untidy!
- Keep related items together so drawers/cupboards are organized by category
- Think about investing in racks and shelves for inside your units to maximize storage capacity
- Go through medicine cupboards and get rid of out-of-date medicines – your local chemist can advise you on correct disposal
- Go through cosmetics and toiletries too and then store like with like so you can see what you have and don’t duplicate
- Make instant impact by reducing the clutter around the hand basin
- Straighten towels and bathmats and make sure you have hooks for dressing gowns, flannels and brushes
- If there is room in your bathroom for a laundry basket this may discourage family members from dropping dirty clothes and wet towels on the floor!
- Declutter all surfaces, especially coffee and side tables, which get cluttered very quickly
- Invest in some baskets for storing magazines, toys and games
Wardrobes and Chests of Drawers
- Take everything out of your wardrobe or chest and lay it on the bed. Check each item and decide whether to keep, donate or throw away.
- If space allows, store clothes, shoes and sportswear by season
- Think about using baskets for shoes, bags or scarves.
- Use cable tidies for trailing wires – not only will they look tidier, you will reduce trip hazards
- Categorize everything and store like with like, using desk dividers to maximize space
- Invest in a desk tidy for pencils, pens, scissors, markers, etc. – or use some unwanted mugs as pen holders
- Straighten files and books
- Look under the beds and on top of the wardrobe – who knows what might be lurking there! Under-bed storage can be very useful – but only if used properly.
- If possible, have a laundry basket in each bedroom
- Have a small box to hand for receipts and a pot for loose change from pockets and bags
- Regularly check magazine and post racks for out-of-date items
- Check wardrobes at the beginning and end of every season and pass unwanted items to your favourite charity shop.
I hope you found this quick guide to how to start decluttering useful. Good luck with your getting your home sorted. You will have such a sense of achievement at the end of it!
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After a varied career across a number of sectors – business, charities and the arts – being made redundant from a financial services company gave Liz Aitken an opportunity to re-think her priorities.She has always been the family ‘fixer’, the one everybody relied on to sort things out, so there was an opportunity to turn her natural talents and experience into a business – thus Carefully Sorted was born. Carefully Sorted is not all about minimalism and throwing things away, but about helping their clients create a pleasant and manageable environment that they enjoy living in.