7 things to do before you declutter

If the thought of decluttering is just too overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, these simple steps will help you feel organised before you declutter. It’s like getting organised before you get organised!  Use the list as a 7-step mini-plan and you’ll feel prepared and ready for action. 

Whilst over thinking and perfecting a decluttering plan isn’t something I’d advise you to do, a little prep work can make a big difference to your decluttering effort.  By doing these few tasks before you declutter you’ll make more efficient use of your time.  You’ll get items out of your home quickly and be living your clutter-free life sooner than you think.

1. Imagine your ideal lifestyle

Take a few moments to reflect on the reasons you want to declutter, why it’s important to do so now and what you want to achieve. 

What do you hope will change about your life?  What do you want to create time and space for?  How do you want your home to look and feel?  What kind of life to you imagine living here?  How will you feel when you are living a clutter-free life?

Having answers to these questions and understanding your goals before you start decluttering will help motivate you.  It will also make decision making easier and keep you on track as the work gets underway.  The clearer you are about your vision for your simplified home and lifestyle, the more effective your decluttering will be.  

2. Take before photos

This may sound like an odd second step to take, but don’t skip it!  I’m speaking from both personal and professional experience when I say that having a collection of before photos is important. 

With the best will in the world decluttering isn’t an overnight transformation. It takes time.  And there will be a moment, when you hit the messy middle, during which you’ll wonder if you’ve made any progress at all.  You’ll start to question yourself and possibly lose a little momentum.  These before photos will be the perfect reminder of you how far you’ve already come and a great motivator to keep going.

    You’ll also want to treasure them once you’ve finished.  As you start removing items from your home, you’ll be amazed how you adapt to living a tidier life.  You may even forget what your home once looked like or how disorganised it once felt before you started decluttering.  These photos will be great to look back on with a great big smile on your face.

    Now is the time to take before photos.  Take them in all the rooms, inside the cupboards, under the bed, the secret stashes, the mystery piles.  Get all the evidence you can of what you’re about to change.  

    3. Create some decluttering rules for yourself

    No-one should tell you what you can and can’t keep.  It’s your home; your rules.  It makes sense, therefore, that you create some based on your vision and values.  Just like other rules in life, they help keep you on the straight and narrow and provide structure for decisions and healthy boundaries. 

    When you’re decluttering, rules can be excellent at helping you reduce the number of individual decisions you’ll have to make.

    These can be things like:

    • I won’t keep mugs that are chipped
    • I won’t keep clothes that are two sizes too small
    • I’ll only sell items that are over £50 in value (I’ll donate the rest)
    • I’ll only keep bank statements from the last 12-months
    • I’ll only keep as many books as can fit on that tall bookshelf in the lounge 
    • I’ll only keep matching socks

    Creating these rules ahead of time means you can make much broader, quicker decisions when the moment comes – and know that these decisions are in line with your vision and values.

    4. Have an exit plan

    Doing a little research before you declutter on how you might release your unwanted items removes some of the roadblocks you might hit along the way.

    Donations: Do a quick search to find out which causes you’d like to donate to and where the charity shops are that support them.  Research when are they open, how many bags they take at a time and if there are any items they don’t take. 

    Selling: If you’re going to sell items, know how you might do it.  Research appropriate apps, join relevant Facebook groups, contact local auctioneers and so on.   When you understand the processes involved with these, getting items out of your house will be so much quicker. The less time they hang around, the less second guessing you’ll be tempted to do.

      Rubbish: Depending on your values, you might also want to consider recycling.  Check with your local council to see what your local options are.

      You might also want to consider where you store items before they leave your home.  A spare room, in the garage or a dedicated space where they are out of sight of others who might interfere with your efforts, might be appropriate.

      Ask for help from a professional organiser, as we often have ideas for how to remove the most unusual items, as we get presented with these challenges regularly.

      Or take a look at this page for ways to remove clutter sustainably.   Most recommentations are Cardiff and South Wales specific, the geographical area The Tidy Lark is based in.

      5. Get bags and boxes ready

      The exit plan that you just created needs bags or boxes to make the magic happen.  Find them and label them: donate, sell, rubbish, recycling and returns (returns are for all the borrowed items you’ll find along the way).

      Without the containers ready you’ll end up creating one big pile of items to sort through again.  Hold an item, choose if it stays or goes.  If it goes, ask yourself which pile and then place it in the correct container immediately.  It’s all done in one final decisive move, which will make your decluttering much more efficient.

      6. Dedicate some decluttering time

      Next you need to book in some time with yourself to get the decluttering done. It can be days, hours or minutes.  Just get it on the calendar and prioritise it like any other appointment.  Book the babysitter, buy in snacks, be okay with pizza for tea, then hold yourself accountable to ensure you get it done.  But be kind to yourself too and be realistic about the time and energy you can commit to decluttering.  Getting it done at a pace that suits you is important.  Remember decluttering is a marathon, not a sprint.  All progress counts.

      7. Use a decluttering checklist

      Using a decluttering checklist provides so much structure, especially if you don’t know where to start.  It can inform you which items to work on now and next, which will keep you on track as you move through your home.  It will stop you from bouncing from one task to another or getting distracted by more interesting items to look at.  Ticking boxes is also a super satisfying way to track your decluttering progress. 

      To get your FREE KonMari decluttering checklist CLICK HERE and it will be delivered straight to your inbox.  

      calm home dining room

      Before you declutter

      If you’re not sure where to start, what to do before you declutter and how to get started, these 7 steps will ease you in.  You’ll be as ready as you can be to get on with the transforming your home and life effectively and efficiently.  Good luck and enjoy!