Where to start decluttering? 7 questions to help you (and me) figure it out

Let’s just be super clear that I am not currently a decluttering expert. I am a person on a decluttering journey. I have a long way to go, but I have been making progress.  Today I have some advice to share as someone who has struggled with clutter for as long as I can remember. It can be very overwhelming. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

Here are some questions that can help you figure out the best place for you to start decluttering, or figure out what to work on next. I have used all of these questions at one time or another. Often more than one at a time. See which ones motivate you to get started. Or just pick one and go for it!

1. What bugs you the most? Is there an area that is just driving you crazy?

For me:

2. What will make the most impact? Pick a room/area where you spend a lot of time, or the first room when you walk in the front door, or areas that guests will see.

For me:

    • Living room – the first room you see when you walk into our home
    • Coat closet
    • Bathroom
    • Kitchen

3. What will save you time in the long run? Get ahead of the things that make you fall behind. Would you be more efficient in the kitchen if you had a clear counter with  no dishes in the sink, and a refrigerator where you can actually find what you need in 5 seconds or less? Oh yes!

For me:

    • Paper clutter 1, 2 – Too much time spent digging through piles of papers just to find that one very important paper that I need!
    • Laundry/clothes – You gotta love digging through laundry baskets or piles for that one shirt.
    • Kitchen island – Having a workspace ready saves me time!
    • Refrigerator/pantry

4. Is there an area to declutter that would bless someone else in your home?

For me:

    • Car – Mr. RSS cleaned it out the last time, but I know it would bless him if I can keep it clean!
    • Living room
    • Bedroom

5. Is there an area to declutter that would bless someone outside of your home? Declutter and give things away to people who actually need or want them!

For me:

    • Clothes
    • Baby stuff
    • Toys
    • Kitchen
    • Basement – Oh wait until you see more of my basement!

6. Is there an area that will save you money, or potentially help you earn money?

For me:

    • Coupons – sitting around in piles isn’t helping so much
    • Toys and other clutter that could be sold
    • Refrigerator/pantry (wasting food = wasting money)
    • Paper clutter  – This can keep me from paying late fees (Grrr!) or missing a check!

7. What can you accomplish in a short time to get a taste of success? Pick an area you can finish in 15 min. or less. Start small.

For me:

    • Cookbook shelf
    • Bathroom vanity
    • Kitchen counter
    • Pick one drawer or shelf in the kitchen or bedroom

After writing this out I think my next new project will be the kids’ rooms/clothes. That is driving me crazy, it will save me time, and it can bless others!

How do you decide where to start decluttering? Do any of these questions help you? What will you declutter next?

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23 Comments

Filed under Declutter, How To, Motivation

23 Responses to Where to start decluttering? 7 questions to help you (and me) figure it out

  1. Tina

    I struggle a lot with clutter as well. There are three things that have helped me lately. First I went electronic with everything I could such as bank statements, investment accounts, and auto pay from my checking account for every bill that would let me. This cut down on the paper clutter coming into my house and no more late payments because the bill was lost in the piles!

    The second help is if it takes less than a minute to do then do it now. I’m surprised out how many things take no time to put away yet I leave out for days because I don’t want to walk downstairs or go to that room at this moment etc. I even try to make it a game now. How many things can I put away in one minute. Turns out quite a few!

    The last help is something I read but don’t remember where. It is isn’t useful or beautiful to you then let it go. When I first started doing this a few months ago with a goal of getting of 50 things my husband became concerned. I was passing on so much stuff he thought he might be next. I assured him he was both beautiful and useful! This applies to my kid’s artwork too. I won’t be able to keep every single piece they make over their young lives so I chose the ones I like the best and recycle the rest. They understand this and are OK with it.

    My kitchen desk is a constant source of clutter as usual I will work on that today!

    • Great stuff! I am doing the same with doing more electronically. That has saved me so much money! I think once I catch up with my backlog of paperwork, it will be easier to maintain all of the newer stuff.

      I love the other 2 helps, too. I have also heard those before, and I’m so glad they are working well for you! Thanks for the reminders!

    • Cassie

      I’ve heard of taking photos of children’s artwork. That way you still have the memory of the art, without having to store it. 🙂

  2. Jan

    You may not be an expert, but you’re starting to sound like one! 🙂 Those are really good tips.
    Jan

  3. Laurie

    My decluttering is starting in the kitchen. It is the room that drives me crazy! My day always starts off really badly if I can’t put anything down on the counters because they are too cluttered.

  4. Yes, you are sounding more and more expert! I like how your writing is clean and organized for this blog.

    I especially like how your motivations include blessing others. You rock!

  5. katjaknits

    Hi from Germany – where we clutter as well ;-))
    These are great tips and they sound very manageable too. Keep up the great work!
    Katja

  6. katjaknits

    of course I meant “where we have clutter as well”… Sorry for the typo
    Katja

  7. great ideas! I find myself de-cluttering and cleaning what people will see first when they come in. That includes under my dining table as they come up the stairs. I always try to keep that swept. I guess in the grand scheme of things, I feel like if I HAVE less, if the kids HAVE less, then there will be less to clean. Right? LOL No..not always. Stuff comes out of EVERYWHERE sometimes.

    We moved about 4 years ago into our new house and I was RUTHLESS as to getting RID of stuff. I seriously pared down my kids toys. (I have 4 children-but had only three when we moved), and realized that they don’t NEED that much. Sometimes I wonder if they seem deprived, but they still have what they love and what they play with. And they do get some new things. Their latest love in toys–well, they each got ONE. Before I would go out and buy them multiples of the things they loved….they had to have every color, right? I found if they had every color, it was “too much to love” and one or more pieces would get lost. If they have ONE…they take really good care of it and always know where it is. strange. LOL

    That is what i did with sippee cups for my youngest. bought her ONE. I always know where it is because I HAVE to. No more finding half cups of sour milk under the bed! 🙂

    …boy…I went on a rant there. sorry! 🙂 I really like your blog!!

    • “I feel like if I HAVE less, if the kids HAVE less, then there will be less to clean. Right?”

      This is A LOT of what I was thinking when I started this blog! 🙂 It’s really nice to hear that it is working for you. I have been having some serious thoughts about some major toy decluttering myself. I did one round a few months ago, but sometimes I think…: Legos, stuffed animals, and art supplies – maybe that’s all we really need? Ok, maybe I wouldn’t go quite that extreme, but I keep thinking about it!! We’ll see…

      • We have 2 sippy cups, because if one does get lost, I am frustrated. It beats the heck out of the 6 or 7 I thought I needed with my first kid though. Good job.

        Having less clothing makes care and keeping of it easier and more important for my children. They cannot leave things everywhere, because they will need them. They are learning to keep their shoes together and by the door. It’s taking time. They are not fighting to close drawers or destroying a folded stack by trying to get their favorite on the bottom either. I have found we need sooooo much less than we thought we did. It sure saves money and time. Shopping takes up so much time.

    • WilliamB

      Another problem with having too many toys is that the kids don’t know what to play with – they flit from one thing to another (“Oooh, shiny!”) and never settle down to get really into something good. Such as Legos.

      (This isn’t true for every kid, of course, but it seems to be generally true.)

  8. Sarah

    Wow, this really helps me get started. It is easy to get overwhelmed and think, well, I can’t possibly do it all – and just do none of it!
    Thanks for the tips, I think accomplishing small tasks will help me feel productive.

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  12. What a lovely post. You sound pretty expert to me! Where to start is what a lot of people struggle with, and often why they call in some help! My tip for those who still don’t know where to pick would be the biggest cupboard you have. Clear that out and you will make space for other things. Once you get the “stuff” flowing there will be no stopping you!

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