Are you overwhelmed by clutter?
Small Steps to Declutter and Organize Your Home or Large Project
My husband is a wonderful guy, really, he is. He is super helpful too. Yet we seem to have different ideas about what projects around the house need to be tackled and in what order. Personally, I like to have everything picked up and cleaned before I start a larger organization project.
My husband, well he likes to do huge projects. He starts them all off the same way. Let’s take the latest family room closet cleaning project. Which, by the way, I didn’t even have on my top 50 list of things that needed to be done around the house.
First, he took everything out of the closet and put it all on the kitchen table. While one might have assumed, he first cleaned the table off to make room, yet one would be mistaken. Then the closet was empty. At this point he slowly begins to put a few things back in the closet in locations that he thinks make sense. He spends hours and hours on this project. Somewhat frustrated that everyone else isn’t interested in working on the project with him.
Then after he thinks the closet looks great, he is done. He feels great. He has completed an amazing project. And then there is the other 50% of the stuff that is still on the table that will need to find someone else to get it to its rightful home.
These organizing projects quickly feel overwhelming and frustrating to me. Some of it is because I didn’t want to start it in the first place. Yet, some of it is that I don’t want to start it because it seems like so much work. I’m more of a tackle one or two things at a time person vs. doing the entire closet at once. I find when I take small steps to declutter and organize my home, I am more likely to start and finish the task … and it doesn’t seem quite so hard.
Chunk It Out
Tackle only one section of a room or closet at a time. This helps make the task appear less daunting. In the case of the closet project, I would have started with one shelf. Completely finished the shelf and avoided moving on to the next shelf until I’ve completed the last one.
This same trick works for cleaning the kitchen or your office. Don’t try to clean your entire office. Start with just taking out the trash. Then file the papers in only one of the piles. Small steps won’t leave you with larger messes to clean up than the actual project was in the first place.
Try these other tips for organizing and decluttering your home or office in small steps:
- Pick the Starting Line. Select a closet, room, or work project that you can tackle in less than a day, rather than selecting the most challenging or messy project at home. Once you’ve chosen your starting line, start early in the day so you have as many daylight hours as possible to work on cleaning and decluttering.
- Sort Using the D3 Method. Go through everything in your starting location and sort by the D3 method. What do you want to delete (throw away), donate (give away), or delegate (give to someone else to do or delegate to another room)? Everything that you touch in the room should be sorted by the three categories: Delete, Donate, and Delegate. If they do not fit in those categories decide they stay in this location and can be organized.
- Use the D3 Method on every item in the location you are working on. When you’re finished, you should have four distinctive piles or areas in the room. Each item in the room will be in one of the four piles. The last pile is the Do it pile. This should only be what is left and belongs in the room.
- Delete – Throw Away. Simply taking all the “throw away” stuff out of the room and putting it in the garbage is going to make a very large difference. Consider paperwork should be shredded rather than simply put into the trash. You have already completed a quarter of the project.
- Donate – Remove Donations. Anything that you intend to sell, give away or donate should come out of the area next. Store these items somewhere else for now. At our house we will put them into a garbage bag and throw them into the back of our van right away so that the next time we drive by a donation center we can just throw them in. Since we always do it, it became a habit. Continue to add to this section, or the donation bag in the van, from each room in your home until you are ready to make one single donation trip. You are halfway done with this project.
- Delegate – “Belongs Elsewhere”. Do not simply move these items into another room; otherwise you’ll need to sort them again. Create a box or container for each room for which you have items. Make sure that you definitely want to keep them so that you can transfer them into the right room without having to sort them again later. If you have a partner on the project, ask them to take the container to the room where it belongs. If you are bold enough, you can ask them to start the D3 method in that location why you finish up the one you are working on. You are 3/4th of the way done.
- Do it! – Organize What’s left. Now that you’ve removed large chunks of “stuff” from your room, you can organize everything that remains. When you’re only working with the things that are supposed to be in the room, decluttering and organizing becomes much simpler.
- Repeat this process. Repeat in each area until you’ve finished the whole project. When you handle one step at a time, the process is much simpler and less stressful. In the closet example, you would do one shelf at a time. And then repeat the D3 Method for each shelf.
The benefits of the D3 method are that you can get interrupted, like we often do, and there isn’t a huge mess or project sitting there waiting for you to finish it up. You can literally put all the items back on the shelf and come back to working on it once the interruption is completed.
Once you’ve finished organizing your closet or your room, take a few minutes each day to ensure everything you’ve used during the day is back in place so you can continue to enjoy your “new” clutter-free area.
Big tasks can seem overwhelming. Yet, if you break your decluttering challenge into smaller increments before you know it, your project will be clean and organized! Now the biggest challenge is to convince my husband that he can use this method too. Any suggestions?
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