For everyone who wants to live a happier life in a clean, organized, clutter-free home, here is a decluttering task list that can help turn a very overwhelming goal into concise steps. Enjoy!

What to know before you start

  1. Like most big projects, your decluttering project will look worse before it gets better. You’re going to have to pull out everything to do this job right, including things you’ve got stored in dusty corners and crammed into boxes out of sight of visitors – the stuff that secretly bothers you because it’s a mess, but that you’ve pushed aside to one corner of your mind and try to forget about.
  2. You’re going to have to relinquish your hold on material things – if you knew a fire was going to burn down your house, you had better be able to fit anything you would be devastated to lose in one cardboard box (photographs, collectibles, anything else that is unique and irreplaceable).
  3. Similarly, realize that your memories, of good times and bad, aren’t stored in objects, they’re stored in your heart and your soul. Stop forming connections with inanimate objects, and get ready to give away things you haven’t used in over a year to charity. There is someone out there who needs your stuff more than you do.

What you need to start decluttering

  1. You need boxes or bags to hold everything you’re going to get rid of
    • One set for items to donate.
    • One set for things to put away
    • One for items to sell (optional).
  2. You also need lots of trash bags. You’d be surprised at how many useless papers and true junk you will find when you’re cleaning.
  3. Not everyone will want to do it this way, but we like to clean out areas at the same time as we declutter them, so we usually have plastic, wood, and glass cleaner and paper towels with us when we’re on the purging rampage, so we can return the items we decide to keep back into a neat, dust-free area.

Decluttering, step-by-step

  1. Pick a room to work on first (we suggest the worst one first, to get it over with).
  2. Open every drawer, cabinet and other containers one by one, moving in a circle from one area to the next, not skipping any places.
  3. For every item, ask yourself these questions:
    • Have I used this item within the past year?
    • If someone took this out of my home, would I pay to replace it?
    • Does this make me happy or serve a useful purpose?
  4. Make a quick decision! Don’t linger, you’ve got a lot of stuff to get through – and remember that the more useless stuff you get rid of, the happier and freer you will feel when you wake up tomorrow morning.
  5. Place each item in the appropriate box/garbage bag.
  6. Once the contents of the entire section have been emptied, vacuum and wipe down the area where they were being stored.
  7. When you are finished with one room, take out all the trash, and put your donate boxes in the car to give to charity and return all items in the “put away” box to their proper places in your home.
  8. When you are ready, begin the next room.

General decluttering tips

  • Work on one room at a time, and don’t start on the next area until you have completely decluttered the current one. This will keep messes under control.
  • Making the purging a fun experience. Do it with your significant other, as long as they are supportive of your mission, or listen to music or an audio book while you’re cleaning and purging.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed; give yourself permission to take breaks. Only pull out as much as you can handle during the time you have to work on this project. You didn’t get a cluttered house in just a few days, and it’s okay not to have it completely decluttered in a few days, either.