Terry's Blog

How to Get Motivated to Clean a Cluttered House

Are you overwhelmed looking at piles of clutter everywhere, not sure where to start or what to even keep? Are you tired of unneeded stress and feeling out of control? You go to find something and spend valuable time looking everywhere because it’s buried somewhere underneath the mess. You’re embarrassed to invite friends over because of the clutter accumulating around your house. Or you’re sick of looking at piles of stuff you have no use for. Maybe you just feel like simplifying and giving some of your things to those in need in your community.

Decluttering can be an overwhelming and seemingly hopeless task if there isn’t an end goal, if you don’t start somewhere and just go for it, if you aren’t ready to determine needs verses wants, and if you aren’t ready to get rid of unused stuff. So, let’s get started!

  1. You need a GOAL. Decluttering can be a fun task when there is a “big picture” idea at the end. What are you hoping to accomplish when you’re done decluttering your house? Do you want more organization? Do you want to get rid of unused items? Do you want to find a system you can use to keep your clutter to a minimum? It’s a little bit like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, and the challenge can be fun once you start realizing your end goal.
  2. Just GET STARTED! If you look around for the perfect place to start, you will only feel more overwhelmed. Start with one room and go for it. You have to make a BIGGER mess before it gets CLEANER. Declutter room by room so that you feel as though you have a plan. Choose the room that is bothering you the most, possibly the room you spend the most time in, and start there. Once you completely finish that room, move onto the next one. If you have children, include them in this task when you get to their bedrooms. Let them help you choose toys, clothing items, etc. they don’t use much and discuss with them what they would like to do with those items (thrift store, local church, a family in need, Christmas donations for low-income families, etc).
  3. ORGANIZE. As you go through each room, make a pile of things you want, a pile of things you need, and a pile of things you know you don’t want to keep. The things you need are non-negotiable. The things you don’t want or need, start putting in trash bags. The things you want can be a little harder to make decisions on, but ask yourself these questions: How often have you used it in the recent months? What purpose does it serve? Is it sentimental? (these are important items to hang on to). If you don’t use it now, will it serve an important purpose in the near future? (ex: a piece of furniture that would be an expense to replace down the road, but you might not be using right now). Find a good place you can store the items you are getting rid of until the decluttering is finished (maybe a garage). You can buy tubs or other storage bins to help organize certain items so that you have a good system in place. Sentimental items can be stored in tubs and put away in a garage or crawl space. Keep in mind that decorative items can quickly clutter a room, so think about the things you want others to see and keep those out, then consider getting rid of other items that would just be put into bins for storage. Eliminate closet clutter by adopting the capsule wardrobe.
  4. GET RID OF STUFF. Though it can be hard, you just have to rid yourself of the items you put into bags. Imagine how freeing it will feel to no longer be organizing items you have no use for! And don’t let this be the only time you declutter your house. Now that you’ve cleaned your cluttered house and are organized, stay on top of it so that it doesn’t get out of control again. Come up with a system that works for you (weekly, monthly, quarterly) and set a goal to declutter consistently. A helpful technique many families use every year after Christmas is they give away a certain amount of toys that can be replaced with the new toys that are received as Christmas gifts. There are many other creative ideas used to declutter throughout the year, so research what other people do or come up with your own. Pinterest is a great resource for finding tips and ideas from others.

Living a life with less clutter can eliminate stress from your life and help you gain a sense of control over things. There is something rewarding when you simplify and live with the things you need, rather than being consumed by piles of unused items that only get in the way. So set a goal and get started! And have some fun with it. Take time to laugh at the things you’ve been holding onto that are silly or pointless. Reminisce about the things you forgot you have that hold sentimental value. Enjoy the challenge of sorting through items to determine needs vs. wants. And find joy in giving away useful items to a local thrift store, church, or family that could use it more than you.