How to begin decluttering your home

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’ve finally decided enough is enough.  Today is the day you’re going to get back in control of your home and it starts with decluttering.   But you’re wondering…where on earth do I begin? 

You begin with creating a Vision Statement.  “A vision what?” I hear you ask.  “I just want to get rid of all this stuff!”  Well, you can do that of course, but if you don’t carry out this very important step and invest the time and energy in creating your personal vision statement you won’t be giving yourself the best chance of success.   A vision will clarify the impact you want decluttering and organising your home to have on your life.

What is a Vision Statement?

Most people will say they want to own less, have a tidier home and be able to find everything.  They want to feel less overwhelmed, less stressed, less out of control.  They want more space and more time to spend doing things they love.  Are you nodding your head?  Great.  But sorry, it’s not enough. 

A really strong vision asks you to dig a little deeper, to add in layer after layer of detail.  It needs to be personal, unique and explicitly yours.  It needs to be a PERSONAL expression of what your ideal lifestyle and ideal environment will be like when you have finished tidying your home.

Why do I need a Vision Statement?

As you start to declutter and organise your home, there will be things you know you want to keep and there will be things you’ll happily discard.  Those are the easy decisions.  Unfortunately there will be an awful lot of should, would, could, maybe and mights in the middle.  How do you decide on whether to keep the items that challenge you a bit more if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve other than ‘less’ or ‘calm’?

Having a specific plan, desire, ideal lifestyle and ideal environment will help with this more difficult decision-making.  It will also keep you motivated, focused and help you to recognise the progress you make.

Setting your goals

If it has been a long time since you asked yourself what you want out of your life it may feel a little challenging to imagine a life beyond the stuff.  I’ll admit I neglected this step in my own KonMari journey (on my first attempt – yes there was a failed one!). As a busy mum of three very young children I didn’t even know who I was, let alone what I wanted.  Consequently I was just getting rid of stuff rather than creating the home environment that I needed to achieve.  You need to know what you’re working towards and why.

I went back to the beginning and started again. I considered really carefully how I wanted my family to spend time in our home and I worked on every detail.  It included what I wanted our home to look like, how I needed it to function, how I wanted it to feel in it, what was important for us to do together in our home, and what were the most important changes I needed to make. 

8 Questions to support your decluttering goal setting

To help you create your vision, here are EIGHT questions for you to consider.  Remember, think carefully, think in detail and be totally honest with yourself.

  1. Why is it important for you to tidy your home?

Sometimes people want to tidy their home because of an event.  Maybe it’s because you’re about to have a baby and need to have the house in order before the birth, or maybe you’re moving home and want to declutter before packing day, or you’re looking to retire and want to live a life with less stuff going forward.   Other times people want to tidy because of a feeling – overwhelm, guilt , to change negative habits.  What’s your reason?

2. What impact do you hope tidying will have on your life?

When you think about the positive impact of owning fewer possessions and living in an organised space, what do you hope that the benefits will be?  For a busy family it might be less housework, less to manage, fewer toys to put away at the end of the day.  For others it might be to reclaim a spare room so you have space for a new hobby that you’ve wanted to take up for ages.  When you’ve decluttered what do you want the benefits to be?

3. Why is it important to do this now?

This question is always an interesting one, as to undertake a full KonMari tidying festival is no small undertaking.  It is a big commitment to an incredible lifestyle change.  Why is doing it now and not next year or next decade important to you?  Perhaps it’s because you can’t cope, because life event means now is a good time or because you want to create good habits for your young family as it grows together.  This question of timing will help keep you on task and help you stay focussed and not let your decluttering efforts drift.  If you have a deadline, make a note of it now.

4. Imagine you’re sitting in your ideal, tidy home after you have completed your decluttering.  I want you to describe it using your senses.  What does it look like? How does it smell? What can you hear? What is its texture like?

This detail can be tough, but it’s so vital.  Do you want a home that is minimalist, clear and clean, with natural wood and white surfaces that smells of a spring day and just the hush of a gentle breeze.  Or maybe it’s bright, colourful and vivid filled with the sound of friends’ laughter echoing around the walls. Or maybe it’s cosy and warm, with the crackle of an open fire and children playing while you snuggle up in cosy socks and sit in a comfy armchair.  This image doesn’t have to reflect your actual bricks and mortar home (though it can); it needs to reflect the feeling you want to create in your ideal home.

5. In this perfect home, what is a typical day like? Consider your morning routines and after work activities and describe them in as much detail as you can.

Think of routines and practicality, as this will help you understand how you want your home to function: how you want life to operate here and flow within your walls every day.  When you get up in the morning, imagine knowing where everything is, leaving the house on time without tutting at yourself or yelling at the kids.  Imagine coming home and putting everything back where it’s meant to be and preparing your ideal meal with your family, or knowing you have time to go to the gym because you’ve created a functional space at home.

6. Imagine you’re sat in your tidy home right now.  How does your new home FEEL? 

Describe your emotions.  Be as specific as you can and give yourself three words.  Is it cosy, comfortable and warm or colourful, vibrant and lively, or perhaps relaxed, easy and welcoming.  Pick three words that summarise how you want your home to feel.

7. On a perfect day in your ideal lifestyle who are you with and why are they important?  

I ask this because it’s important to visualise how you want your relationships with friends, family and loved ones to fit into your ideal life.   As you declutter you’ll evaluate what, out of all your belongings, supports you spending time with those precious to you and what is just a distraction.

8. When you are alone, with no obligations what do you do?

I know having a full day off without any commitments is pretty much unheard of in today’s world, but imagine it for a few minutes.  Are you going to read the 400 books on your shelves, spend hours completing a room full of craft projects, or listen to the 3000 CDs in your collection? Or when you have a full day off are you more likely to watch TV, enjoy coffee with friends or go for a walk in the countryside? Knowing how you want to spend your time will mean you can make decisions on what items in your house support this part of your vision.  Think carefully, as spare time is precious and short.  What are your priorities?

Make your vision come alive

How you express your answers to these questions is totally up to you.  You can create a vision board using pages from a magazine, photos of a loved one, or collect images on a Pinterest board.  If you prefer words, write down your answers in a notebook or create a list. You could even just have a photo or an object from a time in your life that somehow summarises just how to want life in your home to feel.  Whichever method you choose it needs to be something you can display or refer to easily, so that you can access it when the going gets tough and you need a reminder of why decluttering and organising your home is the life changing magic you’re after.

Set an intention and then work towards it, no matter how unachievable it may seem at the beginning.  You need to have a goal set, so that you have something to travel towards.

“The question of what you own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

Marie Kondo

The KonMari Method® is all about discovering what Sparks Joy® for you, so it’s natural that your vision will evolve and adapt as you declutter your home.  Allow your vision to flex, and embrace these changes and edit your vision to reflect the lessons you learn.  Then hold onto your vision so tight in your heart that it becomes part of you.  This will be the point at which you will never go back.  This is why having a vision is key to success.