Don’t even know where to start decluttering? The first step is to make an effective plan. This article will show you where to start decluttering by making helping you create a plan to clean out and organize your home.
Has your house ever felt so messy and cluttered that you don’t even know where to start? Mine has!
I’ve organized many times and used a ton of different decluttering guides, and it never seemed to last. Finally, I designed a plan specifically for my house and my family, and it works perfectly.
You Don’t Have to Be a Super Organized Person to Have a Neat Home
I have an important disclaimer. I am not an overly tidy person. It does not come naturally to me. I have to work hard at organization and tidiness.
I have learned everything in this Decluttering Series the hard way. These strategies have worked for me in my own home to create a livable, functional home out of the chaos.
If you struggle with tidiness, these strategies can work for you too.
Where to Start Decluttering? Create a decluttering plan that works for you
Organization is not one size fits all. What works in my house won’t necessarily work in your house. We all have different standards, homes, habits, hobbies, and people we need to accommodate. What drives me crazy, won’t necessarily drive you crazy, and vice versa.
This guide will help identify what works for you, what doesn’t, and how to fix it. As you read through these next questions, really think about the answers. It might even help to jot them down and make a few notes.
Make plans that will be functional in your home at this moment, with the people that live there. Plan for the people and home you have, and you will end up with a lot more peace.
We want to create a home that functions around your people as much as possible. It’s easier to change systems than people.
Ask these questions to figure out where to start decluttering.
1. What do people always need help finding in your home?
Somehow, when they assigned family jobs, the moms got stuck with being the manager of everyone’s stuff. Maybe we’re just lucky, or maybe it’s because men are terrible at finding things.
I’m not sure the reason, but I do know that in my house if someone has lost something, they come to me.
I have realized that when the same person loses something over and over, it’s a symptom of a broken organizational system. You need to figure out why they continue to lose it.
Does it have a place that it belongs? If not, the answer is simple, make a place for it and teach that person to put it there every time.
If it does have a “place” why can’t they find it? Is that place too messy to find it? Does it need to be organized? Can they not get to it quickly? Do they know where it belongs?
If they know where the item belongs, but are just not putting it up, finding it a better “place” might be a simple solution to your problem. There might be some reason they aren’t putting it up.
Find a more accessible place to put it, and be done with it. Remember, it’s easier to reorganize than to continue the stress and nagging.
My Husbands Socks
In my home, the person always losing something was my husband. He could never find his socks. He was driving me CRAZY, and I was driving him crazy, being rude about it.
When I finally had enough and went through his drawers, I realized that he had a drawer full of different types of socks: short socks, work socks, and dress socks. All of these socks were black, and all were in the same drawer. So, it was difficult for him to find the socks he needed. We sorted out the socks to different drawers and solved the HUGE STRESSFUL problem. No marriage counseling required.
What is always lost in your house? Maybe there could be a simple fix that will help an even bigger problem. Select the most critical areas before you begin decluttering. You will actually start decluttering in these areas to make the most impact.
2. What area of your home makes you the craziest?
Is there an area of your home that always makes you aggravated? Maybe, there is a room that no one goes into because it’s too messy. This is where we want to tackle next.
My bathroom sink always had too many products on it, and they would fall into the basin. Just getting ready for the day made me so crazy! I realized I needed significant decluttering. Once I got rid of the extra bottles, the bathroom became a lovely haven for me to get ready for the day.
Perhaps the area that drives you crazy is your kitchen or laundry room. Maybe you need a new system to keep these places in order. My laundry room was a close second, and now I have such a simple routine for that room of my house.
Spending some time thinking about the most stressful areas of your home before you begin decluttering will let you know where to focus your efforts.
Don’t forget to get the free cheat sheet to help you plan your decluttering project below.
3. What items are always left out?
The key to having a clean home is that everything has a place. Just as your forks and spoons have a specific location, so should everything else in your home.
Sometimes, every item has a place, but you still find stuff lying all over your house. When deciding where to start decluttering, think about the things that get left out the most.
If you continuously find the same item laying out, maybe it doesn’t have a place, or perhaps it’s time to rethink that item’s location. It might be too inconvenient, or it might just not work anymore.
You want your home to be as functional and convenient as possible. Where do you store your coffee cups? Likely, you store them near your coffeepot for convenience. It is human nature to expend as little effort as possible.
If putting an item away takes effort, we’ll leave it out, planning on putting it away later. Then later, we forget. Try to find the most accessible place for these items so that everyone will be more likely to put things away.
With Children, It Could Be Accessibility
For about two weeks, the bread kept being left out on my table. I finally realized that my daughter, who had begun to make herself a PB&J after school, couldn’t reach the bread’s “place.” After she asked one of us to get the bread down for her and made her sandwich, she just left it on the table.
I reorganized some of my food storage so that they could reach all the snacks that were most convenient for them.
So, maybe that item that is left out isn’t malicious. Perhaps there is a simple change that could be made to make everybody’s life easier, keep your home tidier, and make less work for you.
4. What chores do you hate?
Just because you hate a chore doesn’t mean that your organizational system for that chore doesn’t work, but it could. I know that before I developed a simple laundry system, it was the chore that I hated the MOST. It was because I had no routine at all. Now that I have a simple laundry system, I don’t mind laundry. My most dreaded chore is now washing dishes, and my dishwashing system could admittedly use some work.
Think about the chore that you hate the most.
Do you have a plan for completing this chore? Maybe it’s not the chore itself that you hate. Maybe there’s a way to simplify it or get the rest of the family to help.
5. What systems don’t work?
Sometimes we go to great lengths to create organizational systems in our homes that work, only to find out that they do not. Do you have any of these systems in your house? Are you clinging to any broken chore charts or command centers that aren’t working or are wasting your time?
If so, there is no shame in abandoning them and finding a simpler way. Sometimes we can over-organize ourselves to death when a simple approach is often best.
My Dream/Nightmare of the Perfect DropZone
Once upon a time, I had this dream of an entryway drop zone. I had seen all the beautiful images on Pinterest and knew I just had to have one in my home. The drop zone would have hooks for backpacks and jackets, bins for our shoes. It was going to be glorious and so perfectly organized. I was determined to make this work.
I tried it first with just hooks, bins, and a bench, and it failed miserably. So, I spent three days building a special shelf just for this drop zone. It still just didn’t work. It created chaos and a bigger mess. My little girl would have every single pair of her shoes in her shoe bin. Every jacket in the house would be thrown into the shelf. It was a nightmare for us. I’m still super jealous of all the cute little entryways I see on Pinterest.
I finally dropped the idea, and we have a MUCH less complicated and more effective system for us. We each put our jackets and shoes on a hook in our own closet. It’s a little less convenient, but much more functional.
Simplify Systems Whenever Possible
So, finally, look for systems that you can simplify. Sometimes the simplest routines are the easiest. Are you doing something in three steps that could be done in one? Find places to cut time and effort before when you make your plan for decluttering.
Take time to consider these questions. They will give you a great idea of where to start decluttering. Remember decluttering is a lot like dieting. You want to get off to a good start. So, make sure to create a great plan for decluttering. Start in the place where you think you need the most work. This will let you see good progress right away, which will be so helpful. Comment below, and let me know how the organization is going.
Make sure also to read the next post in this cleaning series The Worst Decluttering Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Cleaning Efforts.
Be sure to check out our ultimate decluttering post How to Declutter and Organize your Home.
Also, my friend over at Mastering Mom Life has a fabulous post on spring cleaning that you might be interested in.