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So you want to declutter your home, but aren’t sure where to start? Pro tip: use the “quick win” principle to clear clutter fast!
Everyone wishes that decluttering had an easy button. But while no one else can do the actual work for you, there are ways to simplify and streamline the clutter clearing out process so it’s less stressful and more productive.
When clutter starts taking over a space, a room or the entire house, it continues to increase in size (stuff attracts stuff–it’s a principle you can watch happen in a day on your counters and tables!). The problem, however, isn’t that the stuff is there. Rather, it’s how the clutter is affecting your brain.
Most of us don’t need a study to tell us that clutter raises stress because we feel it in our bodies and minds every day. That being said, the documentation exists that your excess stuff has a link to behaviors like procrastination and is also affects adults’ satisfaction with life.
That’s some pretty heavy evidence for the need to declutter, but what about actually doing it? If you’re overwhelmed and dreading clearing clutter from your home, I want you to do two things.
Take a deep breath. There you go, in and out.
Say out loud to yourself: “Start with one simple step”.
Next, you need to tell yourself that you can do it. If you don’t believe you can do it yet, that’s okay. I believe it for YOU. You CAN do this. I know you can!
One of the most effective ways to start decluttering is by focusing on “quick wins”. Let’s break down what that means!
Tip: Getting started is often the biggest hurdle, and I’m here to help you out! Check out my blueprint for decluttering success + top 10 quick win areas (the exact simple steps I took to declutter and minimize our home with less stress) at the bottom of this post!
Information Covered in this Post
- What’s a Quick Win?
- My First Clutter Clearing Wins
- The Brain Hurdle Your Clutter Creates
- Defeat Doubt with Quick Wins
- Final Thoughts on Clearing Clutter Quickly
- Blueprint to Decluttering Success + Top 10 Quick Win Areas
What’s a Quick Win?
So what exactly is a quick win? Simply put, it’s a low-stress project you can tackle in 5 or 10 minutes without a lot of sentimental or emotional attachments to deal with. Usually, a quick win area is a small, defined space that keeps you focused, instead of overwhelmed.
The biggest benefit of the quick win principle, however, is the end result. When you’re able to clear clutter fast, you build confidence in your ability to continue decluttering and are more likely to follow through and accomplish your decluttering goals throughout the entire home.
When clearing clutter from your life it’s important to focus on one task at a time. Bite-size chunks might take longer than attacking the whole house in one day, but, they are ultimately far more sustainable over time. The more consistent you are with decluttering little by little, the bigger the overall results will be. It will take time, but it will be worth it!
My First Clutter Clearing Wins
I started decluttering our home when my daughter was a few months old. As an exhausted first time mom, I had no idea how to tackle the chaos we were drowning in. The attic was packed. The garage was piled high. And our living areas had stuff everywhere.
In desperation, I committed myself to get rid of just 5 items a day. Sometimes I wandered around the house looking for random items to part with, but my biggest successes came when I sat down and focused my attention on one space at a time.
This is the overwhelming big-picture mess our cluttered attic was.
I would walk into that cluttered attic and want to cry. It was a huge project and I couldn’t begin to think of how to clear it out. So I would walk back downstairs and shut the door. But that didn’t change the mess!
Here’s what quick wins did for me, and can do for you as well!
- 5 ripped, stained or unworn baby clothes
- 5 DVDs I didn’t watch
- 10 packs of classroom decor from a previous job
- 7 newborn cloth diapers my daughter had outgrown
- 2 holiday towels I never used
- Outgrown toys
- Pile of clothes and accessories in the bottom of my drawer that I never wore
The list could go on and on because I did this every day for months. I picked one drawer, one surface, one shelf, one cabinet and pulled out:
- duplicate items
- trash and broken things
- outgrown items
- things I didn’t like anymore
- things I didn’t use anymore
Quick win decluttering is all about a first sweep. You’re pulling out obvious and easy things you can part with and live without. The result is bags and boxes of donation or sale items leaving your home and a huge feeling of relief for you as you watch the stuff trickle out of your home.
Need some more ideas of specific quick win areas? I share my top 10 quick start areas in the blueprint to decluttering in my resource library. You can get the password at the bottom of this post!
If you come across emotional or sentimental items or you’re just not sure what to do with something–leave it there. You’ll tackle the harder stuff later when you begin to purge your stuff ruthlessly and work with decluttering buyer’s remorse & guilt-filled items.
The Brain Hurdle Your Clutter Creates
Material items serve many purposes. They can be practical, beautiful, meaningful or time-saving. They can also be incredibly useless. And stressful.
For example, pens are a needed office supply. They serve the purpose of helping us write things down so we don’t forget things. It’s helpful to keep some pens in the office, in your purse, car, and the kitchen.
On the other hand, too many pens become a burden. Too many pens in your desk drawer mean that when you grab one, it might be out of ink, or it might not be the color or style you intended to grab.
If you dig down into the bottom of your purse and pull out a handful, some are likely to be missing caps, leaking ink everywhere or again, out of ink.
These small frustrations are menial, but throughout the day they add up, creating a mountain of stress.
As that mountain of stress builds with small frustrations (too many dishes, can’t find the right earrings, lost my keys…again), your brain starts to work against you. You start to second-guess yourself. Maybe I still need this. I might use this…someday. I can’t deal with this right now.
Your brain creates a major hurdle when it’s stressed. It makes decision making nearly impossible. Not to mention a lack of being able to think clearly. Clutter will make you procrastinate every time.
But there’s one fool-proof way to overcome decision-paralysis.
Defeat Doubt with Quick Wins
When you’re feeling panic and stress and can’t decide what to declutter, what do you do?!
You start simple.
It sounds counterintuitive, but the only way to get out of a rut is to stop thinking and just do something.
Mindset matters, and while some may be able to talk themselves into doing a task, that approach rarely works. It’s a lot like Mel Robbin’s 5 Second Rule, immediate action is always more powerful and will have greater results than overthinking.
It’s important to think about why you want to declutter, but at the beginning, planning out how you are going to finish is just too much.
I use the quick win method with my professional organizing clients and it’s successful every time because action breaks the mental block of fear and doubt.
- Toss one old receipt and you just proved your doubt wrong. You didn’t need that item.
- Drop one expired tube of mascara in the trash and you just smashed fear. You won’t regret tossing that item.
- Put one item from your car’s trunk into the donation bag. You won’t miss it tomorrow. Chances are you didn’t even know you had that item.
Don’t worry about the emotional or difficult things yet. Those come later. Right now, we’re taking simple steps to create a little breathing room and building your confidence by practicing your decluttering skills.
Final Thoughts on Clearing Clutter Quickly
Clearing clutter from your life using quick wins brings immediate action and instant results you can feel good about. As you create space in your drawers, shelves, and small areas, it will ultimately lead to clearer spaces in your larger living and storage areas.
It can be surprising to find that common clutter areas are often filled with trash or unneeded items. By clearing those easy to part with items first, you reduce the visual clutter and actually prepare your brain to deal with the more emotional, sentimental items later on.
What simple area will you tackle decluttering first?
Related Decluttering Articles:
- Quick Start Guide to Decluttering || 5 Areas to Conquer Today in 10 Minutes or Less
- 5 Simple Ways to Minimize Your Kitchen
- Stumbling Blocks to an Organized Bedroom (and how to fix them!)
- 6 Life-Changing Lessons from Tidying Up
MY BLUEPRINT FOR YOUR DECLUTTERING SUCCESS (+10 QUICK WIN AREAS)
Get access to the password for the library with my own blueprint for decluttering and minimizing the home (& top 10 quick wins) by filling out this form:
WANT TO SAVE CLEARING CLUTTER FROM YOUR LIFE USING THE QUICK WIN PRINCIPLE FOR LATER? PIN TO YOUR FAVORITE PINTEREST BOARD HERE: