You’ve decided that it’s time to get on the Marie Kondo bandwagon and declutter your house for good. The task may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you tackle it strategically.
Assess the mess
First, list all the rooms in your home or apartment in order of messiness. If you live in a smaller space, you can start by dividing and conquering. Section off each room into “zones”. You should begin with the rooms that have less clutter, or, the smallest to largest room.
Get your supplies
Decluttering is about organizing. However, don’t buy bins or organizers until after you’ve decluttered everything and know how many items you’ll be keeping. You will want to get heavy duty trash bags, large boxes that you will label “keep” and “donate,” and a dust mask. If you have a family, you can have a “keep” box for each person.
Give yourself a time limit
The hardest part about decluttering is getting started. This is why the “timer trick” is a favorite of productivity and organization bloggers. Set a time, like 15 minutes, for focused organizing.
In any room, start with what Dana K. White of A Slob Comes Clean calls “Easy Stuff” —items that belong somewhere else — clothing in the bathroom, coffee mugs in the bedroom, piles of mail in the kitchen.
Throw out the trash
Items that go on the curb are the easiest to get rid of. In the bathroom, you might find expired medications, half-empty bottles of shampoo, and old makeup. You can throw some medication in the trash, but some prescriptions should be flushed if not used. In the kitchen and pantry, throw away expired condiments, spices, and half-empty cereal boxes.
Saying goodbye to tchotchkes doesn’t mean erasing your memories.
Bedrooms, living rooms, and office areas are the most likely places where mementos like greeting cards, tchotchkes, and framed pictures can clutter. You can store some of these items in a book, instead of out in the open. If the vase from your Aunt Mabel truly has meaning to you, keep it. But, If you are stuck, temporarily store these sentimental odds-and-ends in a box, and go through them later.
Don’t be afraid of what’s in the closet
The closet may be one of the most challenging areas to declutter. This is where the KonMari method of asking yourself — Does this item spark joy? — can help. Loosely categorize clothing by type, and try on items if you need to. If you aren’t sure about the style, the item is stained, it doesn’t fit, or you otherwise don’t feel amazing in it, it goes in the donate box. No exceptions. Be picky about sentimental items. A whole day gets lost if you get stuck in a nostalgia wormhole agonizing over a shirt that you haven’t seen since middle school. Again, it can go in the box to revisit later if necessary.
Get it out of your house
After a successful day of decluttering, you are ready to donate. You can go to The Thrift Shopper to find thrift stores by zip code, or you can try goodwill.org or salvationarmy.org.