Declutter 101 | What You Need to Know About Tidying Your Home

You’ve been wondering lately if now’s the time to finally declutter your home.

Things are bursting at the seams and you’re constantly trying to re-organize your home, only to see it rebound quickly the next day.

This happens more often than you’d like to admit, right?

It’s exhausting! And I can totally relate.

Growing up, organization was FUN for me. Color-coding and label-making were my jam. It was something to occupy my time and feel good in my space.

In my younger years (even through college), space just didn’t exist to become too overloaded with stuff. All I had was a room at school and a room at home. Granted, the room at home did become a dumping ground (out of sight, out of mind!), but it was still just 2 total bedrooms worth of stuff.

Not all that much to deal with in the end.

But then I graduated college and moved into a 1-bedroom apartment. I needed a couch, and a TV, and a whole bunch of kitchen gear!

Marriage was next and two sets of things became one.

By moving every year (sometimes more frequently), we kept our belongings mostly parsed down. We also managed to stay super organized with just a few “secret hiding spots” of boxes left packed containing stuff we didn’t need “yet.”

Still, our belongings never felt like a huge burden (it was mostly just annoying to lug around and I knew we didn’t need it all).

It was when we bought our first home in 2015 and had a baby 9 months later when things started to inflate and become unmanageable.

It was as if my brain could handle whatever our one to two bedroom apartments could fit (even if the closets were stuffed), but once we had a 2300 SF home, an extra human to care for, and things coming in faster than they ever had, decluttering became the top priority.

No longer did I have the mental space for all the things in my home and I couldn’t wait any longer to change it.

Everyone’s tolerance for clutter is different, so it’s impossible to say when or how your personal trigger will show up. Maybe it already has, or you know you’re very, very close.

Either way, the lessons I’ve learned on this journey are sure to help you too. So today, I’m answering some of your hot questions about decluttering!

Q1 | Why Should I Declutter?

I’ll assume you don’t live under a rock and have heard of Marie Kondo …

She’s a wealth of organization and decluttering knowledge and she said this:

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

~Marie Kondo

For me, the whole point of decluttering is to clear a fresh path to focus on my present and be ready for my future. Being present with my family without the burden of managing stuff is truly invaluable.

It’s the best feeling in the world to walk straight to my kids to cuddle them without seeing 20 things to put away while en route.

As a personal development junkie, this is the reason for decluttering that resonates the most with me.

But there are plenty of other great benefits too, such as:

  • Improved focus & sleep quality.
  • Increased productivity & creativity.
  • Fewer items to CLEAN.
  • Less to maintain = time saved.
  • Limited incoming items = money saved.
  • Reduced mental stimulation overall.
  • … and for the kids, increased use of imagination!

I’ve experienced every single one of the above benefits repeatedly.

There’s no greater feeling in the morning than waking up to a clutter-free home where I can experience a lighter, more carefree, and less anxious day.

Keeping my home tidy is an absolute necessity!

What benefit inspires you to live a life with less?

Q2 | Why Can’t I Ever Seem to Finish When I Declutter?

So you’ve made an effort to declutter your home before, but everything keeps coming back. WHY?!

As with anything, the core reason could be deep within you, so a little introspection will go a long way to solve this mystery.

But here are some of the most common reasons for the never ending process of decluttering:

  • No change to shopping or gift acceptance habits. Decluttering requires more outgoing than incoming, so if the equation is flipped, you’ll see a surplus of stuff creep in again over time. This is the #1 reason for the feeling of constant need to declutter (thanks, Amazon!).
  • Family doesn’t understand how to contribute to long term success. Did you already complete a mass home declutter? If your family doesn’t understand your expectations for long term maintenance, then you’re almost guaranteed to feel like it never ends. You won’t be able to avoid some of the swirl (like my daughter who just can’t help but relocate her toys immediately after I put them away!), but have you clarified expectations lately? In two weeks, I’ll be back with a way to address this point, so make sure to opt into the newsletter (and get your free home management balance guide!) to get the update.
  • Home systems lack structure to support a tidy home long term. A productive home is one that has systems in place to fully support your goals. In homes where the “critical systems” aren’t running efficiently, we’re often struggling to maintain the baseline laundry – meal planning – grocery shopping – cleaning and that ends up resulting in exactly zero minutes of extra time to maintain your tidy home. Sound familiar? Join the Productive Home Blueprint waitlist here if this resonates.
  • Mistaking “maintenance mode” decluttering with failure to fully complete decluttering the first time. Keep reading for more on this one.

Q3 | How Do I Know When My Declutter Effort is Successful?

Again, this measure will be very personal to you and your own tolerance, but here’s my rule of thumb.

If I can tidy up a single room (closet included) within about 10 minutes, that’s a “maintenance mode” tidy and I consider my space acceptably decluttered.

If it takes any longer than that, I know I need to spend some time on a deeper and more intentional declutter.

You’ll always need to do some level of decluttering on a daily/weekly basis. Our homes aren’t meant to be pristine 24/7. They’re lived in (duh!) but that doesn’t mean they can’t get back to baseline quickly.

If you feel like you’re constantly decluttering, yet have already done plenty of mass purges, here are a couple of next steps:

  • Level your baseline “maintenance mode” tidy. Maybe your measure of tidy is a 10 minute pickup per room. Or maybe it’s 2 minutes. Maybe in this season of life, it’s 15 minutes. Whatever it is, level it out so you’ll be able to set expectations around your efforts.
  • Keep purging rooms that are beyond your baseline. Depending on how long it takes you to tidy a room, you may need to keep going. Consider the items you’re trying to tidy. Just the other day, I grouped ALL of the kids’ stuffed animals and pulled out about 10 to eliminate. Could you downsize broken or unread books? Try to start with what your hands are touching the most when you’re cleaning up each room.
  • Complete another full home declutter using the 30% Room-By-Room Method (my own simplified “first layer” method)! This method is such a winner in my book that I created a free guide to help you run through it. Get your free Clear the Clutter Guide here.

Now, your baseline shouldn’t include the DEEP declutter efforts like turning kid’s clothes over for a season, or going through the stacks of printed photos from your childhood to scan them or put them in albums. HA. Those types of projects “exist” until time is available to tackle them specifically.

So What’s Next for You?

It can sometimes feel like the effort to declutter is so far beyond your capacity or energy level. I know, because it’s often felt that way to me before too.

Despite that, here’s what you need to do to get started:

Don’t let your future self down by postponing the starting line from today. Imagine your progress on this day in one year. You’ve got this, mama!

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