Leave sentimental items for well into the process, if not the end
What sentimental looks like varies from person to person and there is no right or wrong here. I find clothes oddly sentimental. Some people find kitchenware their soft point, especially if it was wedding gifts, or passed down to them. Make sure to allow yourself some grace around the things you have a sentimental attachment to and you can always circle back to the tricky areas later.
Don’t buy “products” to help you organise
From TV shows to online "influencers" we are constantly being sold this idea that buying a product will solve all of life's problems, especially our clutter related ones. In many cases buying products to "help" only increase the problem. To start with use boxes/pots/jars you have until you have finished, then you can go nuts. Occasionally you might need the odd thing to help you along the way, but as much as possible avoid any additional purchases, till you are happy the majority of the decluttering and organising is gone.
In my Declutter and Organise course I teach the 5 steps: CATAGORIES, MINIMISE, ORGANISE, SYSTEMISE & GLAMOURISE. GLAMOURISE is last and this is the step where we talk about what products we can buy because like myself, most of us will find it easier to maintain a space that also looks nice. Ask friends and family to save up any small boxes they have and you can even ask people on FB Marketplace or OLIO (it's an app for free things) if anyone has any bits going spare.
You can get full access to this course and many additional features in the membership for just £12 a month. Click here to find out more.
You can repeat an area
Some areas may need a couple of sweeps and that’s perfectly fine and normal. Each time you go through an area you will find it easier as your decluttering muscle gets stronger and your vision of the space gets clearer. Don't get overwhelmed by trying to make everything perfect straight away. Pace yourself or you will risk burning out. Depending on the starting point you may just need to get a place functional to start with and often we are unaware of the actual space we are working with and the opportunities within it until we start reducing the contents.
Remove decluttered items from your space asap
It's often very hard to get friends or family to help you declutter, but one of the best jobs you can give them is to physically move the items you no longer want out of the space asap. Pack up their car and dispatch them to the charity shop and recycling centre asap. Set a clear rule that they can't question anything you wish to rehome.
If you are flying solo make sure you plan on rehoming trips or book collections. If it sits around your space you may find it creeping back into circulation and you will have to declutter it all over again.
It will often feel like it has gotten worse before it gets better
When I work in clients' homes I find it nearly impossible to leave. If I didn't have another appointment or the school run to do, I doubt I would ever get out the door. Beyond a single drawer or at a push the fridge, most jobs will take more than one visit and we need to make sure the space is still functional in between doing the work. Pulling everything out in one go can be very useful but if you still need to cook dinner or go to bed mid-project you're going to have problems. Working on manageable chunks at a time or finishing 30 minutes before you have to stop, so you can make sure you can still use the space.
Expect it to be emotional
Decluttering can bring up a lot of emotions, both good and bad. Make sure you are allowing yourself breathing space to process the mental side of what you are doing. Even positive emotions can be draining, but decluttering so often links us into grief, guilt and frustration to name a few. If nothing else chances are decision fatigue will kick in along the way and knock you over for a bit. We are seeking long term, sustainable change and this doesn't come overnight.
There is no perfect look or number
We all have a different image of what we are trying to achieve and it's important to consider this at the start of your journey. In the Declutter and Organise course we break this down space by space and consider what our ideal would look like. What's too much stuff for me, is like to be just right for someone else, while a hardcore minimalist might think my home is cluttered. I identify as a minimalist, but it's based on my definition of the word and I have only felt ready to embrace the term in the last 6 months.
Some people like to reduce to a certain number, while others prefer the contain concept (you can only keep what fits within a certain size container of your choice). I opt for a mix of both depending on the item, where I store it and what purpose it serves.
Don’t fill every space
Full spaces are not functional. Imagine filling a bath to the top, as soon as you try to get in it will overflow. The same goes for the other spaces in your life. Filling a shelf and getting items on and off becomes really tricky and reduces the chances of you putting items back in the right place. Allowing about 20% of empty space around items will make the space not just look better, but make them more maintainable and functional. Plus it makes things easier to clean too.
I hope you have found these starting tips and tricks useful, but if you want to start making some real head way into decluttering, getting organised and feeling happier, why not come and join A Happy Lifestyle Club's private membership. Not only will you get acces to my full Declutter and Organise course, but a number of other courses, worksheets, ebooks, guided audios, live sessions, challenegs and community support. Sign up today for just £12 a month.