Learning how to declutter fast is the easiest way to keep a clutter-free home all year long. Clutter has been shown to increase stress, anxiety, and depression, but the good news is that even decluttering a small space can make a big difference in your mood and well-being.
Today's society has plagued us with feeling the need to have too much stuff. We are constantly bombarded with advertising “must-have” products that in reality, we seldom actually need. Part of decluttering is deciding what things you actually NEED and use, versus what things sounded good at the time, but really bring no benefit to your life.
Marie Kondo is well known for teaching decluttering and minimalism strategies. Her philosophy of keeping only the “things that bring you joy” is profound. But what if still too many things still truly bring you joy? While it is true that you should never hold on to possessions out of guilt it is sometimes difficult to let go of things that hold sentimental value.
My belief is that beyond just bringing you joy, the item needs to be more valuable to you than the space it would leave behind if you got rid of it. Knowing that a clutter-free space leads to feeling more joy can be the first step in letting go of even things that have sentimental value.
Benefits of Decluttering
- Quicker and easier to clean your home
- Live in a less stressful environment
- Be able to find things quickly
- Have more space
- Gain clarity and a sense of control over your surroundings
- Reduce anxiety
- You will finally LOVE your home!
How To Declutter Fast
So how do you tackle what seems like an absolutely mammoth-sized task? The same way you eat an elephant: one bite at a time. You want to focus on easy wins to keep yourself motivated through the decluttering process.
Make a plan.
Start with the room that you spend most of your time in. Is that the kitchen? Living room? Office? Wherever it is, start there. If you try to declutter the whole house at one time, you will probably get overwhelmed and frustrated.
If a whole room is too overwhelming, start with something even smaller – like the junk drawer or the medicine cabinet. You want to have easy steps getting started so you can build the momentum as you go.
Focusing on decluttering the most used room in your home first will give you a sense of well-being that will help you to have more motivation to declutter the rest of your space – fast. Okay, so it’s not always quite as magical as I just made it sound, but think of it like the snowball method of decluttering. Get one room checked off the list and you have the motivation to move on to the next.
The goal here is to declutter quickly, but depending on how much you truly have to go through, “quickly” may be relative. To avoid overwhelm and stress, schedule breaks where you can walk away and do something calming – like having a cup of tea or sitting outside in the sunshine for a few minutes.
The 4 Stack Hack
My favorite decluttering method is the Four Stack Hack. Most everything you own will fall into one of four categories: stuff that can be thrown away, stuff that can be recycled, stuff that needs to be put in its proper place, and things that need to be donated.
You can choose to put these stacks in boxes or totes, or just make a pile – but the secret to success is that you have to make a quick decision on which stack the item goes into. If you overthink it, you will get stuck in analysis paralysis and not know what to do. Go with your initial thought and choose the stack.
In the room that you have chosen to start in – use the Four Stack Hack to do a quick declutter of that room.
- Things to go in the trash
Broken things, sentimental items that you’ve been hanging on to for years, food/seasonings/medications past their expiration date, junk mail, clothes that don’t fit anymore – you get the idea. All things trash go in the – you guessed it – trash bag.
- Things to recycle
Do your part to save the planet! What can you recycle instead of throwing out? Look around and I’m sure you’ll find something. Then, give yourself a pat on the back for going the extra mile rather than taking the easy option of putting them all in the trash.
- Things to give to charity
One man’s trash is another man's treasure, right? The beauty of giving things to charity is that there might be someone out there who couldn’t normally afford quality clothes, furniture, or books, and because of your donation, they’re able to buy it at a reasonable price. If you want to keep it closer to home, maybe gift it to a friend or family member who will benefit from owning it.
If you are in need of extra cash, take the items you could donate and sell them instead. This requires a little extra work, but can pay a bill or two if need be – or the cash can go straight into your savings account.
- Things you want to keep
If the item you’re keeping doesn’t bring you joy or make you feel fantastic when you’re wearing it, do you really want to keep it? Be ruthless here. The aim of the game is to declutter and get rid of everything that isn’t currently necessary in your life.
Finish the job
That wasn’t so bad, was it? But your job isn’t done just yet!
- Put the trash bag… in the trash!
- Take the recycling to your local recycling center
- Contact charities close to you who would be willing to take or even collect your things, then list the things that are worth selling on eBay (for example)
- Find the proper places for all the important things you’re keeping, or put them back where they came from.
Now you can use this exact set of actions on the rest of the rooms in your house. Simply rinse and repeat! Don’t feel like you have to do all of this in one day, but if you do feel like you can – that’s great, go for it!
When you’ve finally finished this task, the next habit you need to get into is not reversing all of your hard work. How can you keep your house clutter-free? What systems can you put in place to ensure the clutter doesn’t stack up again?
Keep a small box in each room for clutter. It will accumulate quicker than you think! You will start looking around like “how did all of this new stuff get in here?” At the end of every week, you can go through this in just a few minutes and figure out where all these things belong.
Invest in the right kind of storage for your space. Once everything has its permanent place, you’ll find it far easier to keep on top of things and you’ll never have to go hunting for something you need.
If you live with other people or have children, show them around and explain where things go now. Getting everyone involved will make this way of living simpler and less of a chore for you all. Especially with kids, making it fun and clear (using pictures or pretty letters) is key to keeping everything in its place. Teaching these habits at a young age will help your children keep their spaces clutter-free so they too can have less stress and more serenity in their spaces.
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, remember why you’re doing this in the first place. You’re on a journey to a much simpler, stress-free life where you can reclaim your time to do the things that matter the most to you. Your home should feel like a sanctuary, not a place where you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Using this checklist will help you to keep a clean home that stays uncluttered. The best way to not accrue too much clutter is to stay on top of it each day. Be sure to grab my Free Decluttering Checklist PDF that you can keep right on your phone or tablet to check off your progress each day until these little tasks that make a huge difference become habits.
- Make your bed
- Clear off the coffee table
- Load the dishwasher and start it before bed, Unload while coffee is brewing the next morning
- Clear and wipe down kitchen counters
- Dry the kitchen sink
- Complete the laundry – every bit of it – wash, dry, fold, AND PUT AWAY. I promise it can be done.
- Vacuum the entire house – again… I promise it can be done all at once.
- Go through the stack of mail – handle whatever tasks are related to it
- Dust all of the flat surfaces – do you find more things you can get rid of?
- Throw away or donate old magazines or newspapers
- Clean blinds, ceiling fans, and change the air conditioning vent
- Check bank account – anything you can unsubscribe from?
- Are there other decluttering projects you can work on?