Since starting Clutter Free Academy, we’ve had many people ask, “Where do I start?”
If you’re part of our Clutter Free Academy group or on your own, here is a beginners’ guide for those looking to jump in and get results quickly:
(This system is based on my book Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps for Simplifying Your Space. The entire program is in there, but this will get you started while you order the book on Amazon or wait for it at the library!)
1. Pick a major source of pain. Get mad every time you go into the garage? See red when you try to relax in the living room? Is your office where papers go to die? Whatever area of your home is causing you the most pain, that’s what needs to be addressed first.
2. Start with surfaces. Some people want to dive into grandma’s photo albums that have been sitting in the attic for decades. But I would encourage you to give yourself a goal (Twenty items a day? Thirty?) and deal with the layers. Start with surfaces that are confronting you every day: Your nightstand, kitchen counters, kitchen table, desk. As you get practice with the day to day clutter, you can start to deal with the deeper clutter. You are building your “flinging” muscles!Oh – and when you start – only pick a small area. One counter, one shelf, one drawer. (I know that’s not a surface, but if it’s a drawer you use all the time and it’s so stuffed you can’t open it, and bad words come to mind every time you try, feel free to tackle that drawer.) To stay focused, you can even use blue painter’s tape to put physical boundaries on the area you are working on. This is great for young kids or easily distracted adults.
3. Set up a donation space. I have a bin in my garage where all my donations go. When it’s filled up, I take it to the car and stop at the “donation station” on the way to church on Tuesdays for a meeting. For the first few weeks of flinging, you may have more garbage and recycling than normal. That’s OK! Understand that you may have to pay for past clutter indiscretions, but going forward, you will remember the cost of bringing clutter across the threshold and will resist the urge.
4. Get your tools together. You will need three bags or boxes to sort out your stuff. Label the containers: Other Rooms, Put Away (anything that belongs in that room, but is out of place), and Give Away. We have nifty color-coded bags with handles that are easy to use. You will also need a recycling bag and a garbage bag.
5. Declutter. Get all your containers and bags around you so it’s easy to sort out your area. Set a timer for 15 minutes and start sorting.
6. Deal with the fallout. At the end of the 15 minutes, it’s time to start dealing with the stuff you are not putting back onto/into that same space. Set your timer for 5 minutes and take care of any container or bag that is full (or close to full). If that is all the decluttering you are doing for now, deal with all the containers/bags. Don’t leave a bigger mess than when you started!
7. Stay encouraged with other flingers. You’ll need a cheering section, especially when you’re getting started or “leveling up” (dealing with harder clutter: sentimental things, family items, expensive clothes, etc.). Connect with people who have made the same hard decisions and know your pain. We have a whole Facebook group dedicated to learning the Clutter Free way.
Join us over there for encouragement and motivation. Miracles are happening in that group. Go be a part of it!