Staying busy during lockdown is hard enough when you’re exhausted from trying to find ways to entertain your children, but what about the adults? Who’s coming up with ways to keep them entertained, busy and productive? Well, one major thing you can do with your free time is to declutter your home and mind! It will keep you busy, boost your energy, organise your house and clear out your stressful mind. Follow along to declutter your home (and mind) in just 10 easy steps. Plus you get a handy printable checklist if you scroll down.
Full Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links which means that when you click on these links and buy something, I may earn a little commission but it does not affect you in any way. I only recommend products I myself love, know about and/or have purchased before. Some of the items have been gifted to me as part of a collaboration to review but please note that all of the opinions are 100% my own 😊
Declutter Your Home (+ mind) in 10 Easy Steps
You will need 3 boxes or bin bags that you will label as 1) donate, 2) trash and 3) keep! As you declutter you will be dumping your stuff into these bins depending on what you decide for each item.
Items to be donated will be things that you no longer need but are in good enough condition to give to someone else to use whether it is to goodwill/ charity shop/ nursery etc.
Items put in the trash are those things that cannot be donated, cannot be kept and that no longer bring you joy.
Items to be kept are items that bring you joy, you currently use (and preferably all the time), or have sentimental value. Try not to be too over optimistic with this pile. Be realistic – don’t keep things just for the sake of it.
The decluttering process
For each item you pick up you need to go through a mini-check list to decide if it’s worth keeping or donating. First check if the item is broken, ripped or can no longer be used. Second, ask yourself if you have used it in the last 12 months. If you have then you will most likely be keeping it. But be ruthless here and decide whether you will in fact ever use it.
Step 1: Make a plan!
First things first: Make a plan! Decide on what rooms you will need to declutter. Make sure you are mentally ready for what it is you will be doing. Go through everything in your decluttering plan with the mindset of getting rid of a LOT of your things.
The key to ensuring your home stays organised and clutter-free is to ensure you simplify all the rooms in your home!
I believe that if you don’t use an item every day or wear it every day then you won’t wear or use it. Avoid creating yourself a “maybe” pile – I have been guilty of creating such a pile whenever I have tried decluttering before.
Keep reading for your free printable checklist at the end!
Step 2: Always take before pictures
Before you start any decluttering project it is important to take everything out of the drawer/ cabinet/ wardrobe and tip it all on the floor in front of you. Like any artist, you want to start with a blank canvas. This is no different. Once all of your stuff is out in front of you, you will see how much space you have vs how much stuff you have. TIP: never have more stuff than space. Develop a new mindset of staying as minimal as possible. Don’t clutter your life with junk that you no longer use or need.
Look at everything in front of you and take a picture. Look at your empty canvas (i.e. drawer/ cabinet/ wardrobe) and take a picture. This will help you see the progress and the outcome. Plus who doesn’t love a good “before and after” picture? Especially if you have Instagram to share it to. You could even tag #SLTdeclutteringchallenge if you wanted to show off!
Step 3: Start with a small space
Any new decluttering project takes courage, as you are attempting to bring order to your home. It can seem very overwhelming especially if you haven’t done anything like this before, or for a long while. Your home may be full of stuff that you have accumulated over the years and there is a lot of it to get through. Don’t scare yourself from the start. Pick a small drawer or cabinet to start with. This will ensure you get a small win from the start. It will make you feel great and you will love how beautiful your new drawer or cabinet looks. This empowers you to jump straight into decluttering the rest of your house.
Step 4: Do it the Marie Kondo Way
Decluttering the Marie Kondo way means taking each item and ask yourself “does this bring joy to my life?” If the answer is no, then you either donate it or throw it away. Another method suggested by Marie Kondo is to declutter by category instead of by room. It seems logical to start decluttering room by room but she suggests to tackle clothes to start with. Then move onto kitchen items then paper. That way you will be grouping everything and getting more done. Whichever way you choose, make it work for you. What do you find easier? I personally find doing room by room.
It’s also a good idea to opt for natural solutions to your clutter problems wherever possible. One example are these Oak bedside tables, they have generous storage capacity and help tie the aesthetic of your living space together, yet they also bring a soothing natural presence to your space. Marie is a strong advocate of using natural materials for the tactile comfort and link to the natural world that they provide. Making your living space feel calm and restful for the whole family.
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Step 5: Declutter your clothes
Another tip from Marie Kondo with any decluttering project is to start with your clothes. Decluttering your clothes brings order to your life by ensuring you only keep what brings you joy and what outfits you actually look good in. This way you are happier and mood. Getting up and getting dressed (in your nicest and most flattering outfits) will leave you feeling good.
As advised above throw all of your clothes into one big pile on the floor and go through each item one by one. Hold it up against you as you look into a mirror and ask yourself: (1) does this bring you joy? (2) do you fit into this? (3) will you wear this out right now?
If you have answered “YES” to all three questions then you put it into the “keep” box. If you know you won’t wear the top or skirt right this second, then it goes into the donate box. Even more so, if the item you are looking at does not fit you right now then it goes to donate as well, as you will never wear it.
The 12-month rule
Usually, if you haven’t worn it in the last 12 months then you won’t wear it again. Yes it’s true but I’m more of a right-now kinda person but it’s up to you. Whichever way you choose, be realistic, will you actually wear this item? will you fit into the size 10 dress again? Most of the time the answer is no so go with your gut instinct.
Once you have decluttered your clothes and have your “keep” box, you can take things a step further and create a capsule wardrobe in order to simplify your mental space and wardrobe. In a few words, a capsule wardrobe is a small collection of the items of clothing that you absolutely love and want to wear for a specified period of time e.g. winter, spring, summer, fall. It helps you live a minimalist lifestyle, saves you money and stress when deciding each day what you should wear.
A side tip for you: even if we are in lockdown at the moment, it’s important for your mental wellbeing to feel great about yourself, so make the effort to dress up in one of your favourite outfits once you have decluttered.
Keep reading for your free printable checklist at the end!
Step 6: File fold all your clothes
File folding and organising your clothes the Marie Kondo way helps to keep your drawers and shelves organised and uncluttered. This allows you to find the items you need easily without messing up the rest of your shelves and drawers.
File folding is great for small spaces as it allows you to store a lot of clothes, if folded correctly that is. The trick with file folding is to get the article of clothing into a small rectangle ensuring it can stand on its own. Here is a video on the basics of the “Konmari Method“.
File Folding allows you to see every single article of clothing in your drawers and on your shelves. They take up less room and look pretty and organised. You could take it one more step by colour coordinating your clothes like the Home Edit do!
Step 7: Tackle your paperwork
When it comes to decluttering your paperwork, documents and filing cabinets, there are a few rules you should be following.
Put a system in place
Firstly, have a great system set up on how you deal with each category of paperwork you may have. For example, bills that need to be paid, bills that have been paid but need filing away, letters to answer, receipts, taxes, to-do lists and more.
I like to be as productive as possible with my paperwork so I don’t waste time dealing with everything when time is so precious. If you have a system you will save time.
Only store important documents
The second rule of thumb is that you should keep important documents like financial records, tax documents, business-related documents etc for at least 6 years (in the UK that is). Anything older can be thrown away. This leads to rule 3 – always ALWAYS shred any documents that contain any of your personal information. This prevents any sensitive information being misused and your personal information stolen. There are so many stories about fraud and identity theft so you need to be very vigilant.
A side tip for you: instead of collecting piles and piles of paper, why not use a scanner (or even a scanner app such as Scannable) to scan in all of your documents. These can either be saved to your computer (and folders organised accordingly) or emailed to your email address for those of you that keep most of their important stuff in their inboxes. I tend to store quite a few of my important information in my organised email folders.
How to store your documents
To stay organised in my limited spaces I like to use a file organiser with compartments which I can label and use to stay on top of all my paperwork and letters coming in each day. I break my documents up into categories. I use the following categories: bills that need to be paid, bills that need to be filed away, documents to be scanned, letters to be answered and so on. The file organiser is colourful, comes with labels and can be moved around wherever I need. For example, as my children sleep in my room I only ever get to work when they are sleeping so I take it to the living room in the evenings and put it back in the morning so my home stays mess-free, clutter-free and organised.
Step 8: Declutter & organise your digital files
Just like anything you do to declutter your house, it is important that you also perform a digital declutter on your emails, phone, laptop and images. If you neglect these they too will fill up with a lot of junk and clutter. Try to add this step into your monthly decluttering/ cleaning routine so that you stay on top of your digital files. Here are a few of the things you can do to declutter your digital life:
Go through your phone and delete any unused apps. We download a lot but end up actually using only a handful. If you don’t use it at least a few times a week then you don’t need it. Yes, I am a bit ruthless but judging from what I do personally, this is true. They are just there unnecessarily taking up your precious space.
You should also take a look at the thousands of pictures you have on your phone. If you’re a mummy then you would no doubt have many MANY pictures of your kids, or even worse a mummy blogger who takes 30-50 pictures of one shot (yes it takes that many to find your Instagram perfect shot). For these reasons you should dedicate some time to go through all of the pictures on your phone, deleting ones you don’t need and then either sending your pictures to your cloud or saving them to a hard-drive. I do the latter as I don’t like the cloud.
Saving space on your phone
To save some more space on your phone, go through and delete any message chats that you no longer need in the chat apps that you may have – this includes Whatsapp and Viber (and probably Telegram too) as they back up on your phone and take up a lot of space, especially if you have years and years worth of conversations and pictures in those chats. If you have already saved to your phone (and saved either to the cloud or hard-drive) then you can delete them from those chats. Well, in any case, that is what I do. Please, BEFORE you delete anything from anywhere make sure you have a copy as I have done this before and then left without anything.
As mentioned above organise, deleting and backing up your images is very important. Whether this is on your phone, laptop, cloud or hard-drive. You should organise them into categories such as Year, Month, Holiday, Type, and so on. Do whatever suits your pictures and your life. I organise via year and then months. I also organise with a breakdown as to family trips so that each holiday is grouped together.
Next, you need to delete any unnecessary pictures clearing out your space (that includes videos too by the way) and then backing them up to either your cloud or your hard-drive. I personally don’t like clouds – just don’t trust them. I would rather purchase a portable hard-drive with a lot of storage space and back everything to it, knowing that it is in my physical possession.
Laptops/ computers need a good clear out as well. This includes browsers. You should go through your downloaded files, cache and trash and clear it. This frees up your storage space and speeds up the performance of your computer. Ensure that all of your systems are up to date, including your Anti-virus software, system updates and drivers. These all make your computer perform well so keep them up to date to ensure you are protected and functioning properly and well.
Organise the files on your computer the way you would like, so you can find any documents you need quickly and efficiently. This ensures you are always productive and working to your best ability. I organise in categories such as home, work, blog and anything else I need to be doing.
Your virtual mailbox needs to be regularly checked, cleared out and organised. The main goal is to get your inbox to be at zero as often as is possible. Ok so that is not always possible, even for me and I am a neat freak when it comes to my emails. I like to always use as many folders as possible to organise every single email that comes in. And the trick to an organised mailbox is to sort your emails as they come in leaving only the “to action” mail in your inbox. But once those are actioned, they should be filed away as well. Leave your inbox at zero if possible. This leaves you feeling satisfied that you have completed your work and have finished everything off.
Other ways to keep on top of your inbox would be to delete the trash box and unsubscribe from newsletters/ email lists so nothing extra fills your inbox. If you don’t find yourself reading every newsletter that comes in then you can delete it. Sometimes we get sent stuff we haven’t requested so those need to be unsubscribed too otherwise we continue receiving it.
With social media the best you can do is to go through and (1) delete any messages that you don’t need and (2) defriend/ unfollow people you do not actually interact with or actively follow i.e. every day. This will leave you pretty satisfied.
Keep reading for your free printable checklist at the end!
Step 9: Consider eco-friendly swaps for your home
One great way to declutter and organise your home is to make eco-friendly, zero-waste swaps of all your plastic essentials. There are easy and affordable swaps you can make without it being difficult nor expensive. In actual fact by making these swaps, you are saving money by being more sustainable and reusing your products. You could get a reusable tote bag to take with you to the supermarket instead of using a plastic bag. Or using a glassware bottle instead of using plastic bottles and throwing them away. You will need to implement such zero-waste swaps and try to break old habits and practise new ones.
The average person throws away an alarming amount of rubbish each year and we add to that number every day. We all contribute to the environment and need to cut down our plastic consumption. Our use of plastic is definitely polluting the oceans and killing underwater species and marine wildlife. Animals like whales end up digesting tonnes of plastic. By reducing our consumption of plastic we save a lot of animals.
5 easy swaps you can make
Here are some of the easiest sustainable swaps you could make today to help the planet:
Step 10: Declutter your mind
In order to live a more stress-free life, we need to declutter our minds and free up mental space. Having a cluttered mind is much worst then having a cluttered house. If my mind is cluttered, then I cannot focus on what I need to do. I am literally all over the place. I have a million things going through my mind with my to-do lists growing and overflowing. This is not helpful nor productive. The best thing you can do to be more productive, calm and stress-free is to ensure your mind is clear. This will help you to stay on top of everything you have to do.
Mental clutter can include things such as worrying about the future. You may find yourself trying to multi-task all of the time. I tend to try to keep a mental to-do list that does not seem to decrease in size. This just means that I can’t actually remember the tasks I need to do. There are some things you can do to (1) declutter your mind and (2) stay clutter-free, productive and calm.
Here’s what you can do
Here are a few things you can do to be more productive and declutter your mind:
- Write everything down i.e. keep a physical to-do list using a planner, clipbook or checklist.
- Keep a journal – writing down your thoughts, plans and brain dump in a journal leaves you more mentally at ease.
- Stop multi-tasking – yes much easier said than done and even I have a hard time doing this. Deal with one task at a time and keep a to-do list.
- Prioritise your tasks – do the most challenging tasks first thing as you are more productive in the morning. Leave the simpler tasks for later as a treat when you are feeling less energetic and productive.
- Learn to be more mindful and meditate – meditation involves you learning to focus your mind on one thing. You focus on the present moment so all your other thoughts disappear and you become more focused and calm. Mindfulness ensures you maintain awareness of everything you do when making decisions and taking actions. This way you are aware of what you are buying and buy only with intention.
The key behind any decluttering project is to make it part of your normal cleaning routine. Add it to your monthly to-do list and get a checklist to help you tame your clutter. Plus keep it under control month after month.
Once you have managed to declutter, organise and clean your home, you need to commit to a cleaning routine. Find one that works for you, your family and home. Try to declutter your home every 3-6 months to keep organised and get rid of excess stuff. And finally, try your best to not buy too much stuff. Spend less money, bring in less clutter and be more mindful about the stuff you buy, use and keep.
How did you get on with your decluttering?
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Til next time
XoXo Monica XoXo
Full Disclosure: Full Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links which means that when you click on these links and buy something, I may earn a little commission but it does not affect you in any way. I only recommend products I myself love, know about and/or have purchased before. Some of the items have been gifted to me as part of a collaboration to review but please note that all of the opinions are 100% my own 😊