Clutter is a sneaky thing. Before you know it, one piece of paper has turned into ten, your kid’s stuffed animals have magically reproduced, and wait, didn’t you just clean out the garage last month?

If you feel suffocated by ‘stuff’ and completely overwhelmed at the thought of dealing with it, our five foolproof steps for decluttering your home will help you take back your space fast. We’ve even included a free checklist at the end of this post to help guide you through a spring cleaning ‘cleanse’ of the major areas of your home, including 150 items you should toss today!

First, We Prep

You may want to dive right in to decluttering, but if you haven’t first decided on a system, or don’t have the right supplies, you’ll lose your gusto and be stuck with a half-finished job. Take time to set yourself up for success first. Set goals for what you want to achieve, and really visualize how your home will feel when it’s complete.

Schedule time in your calendar specifically for decluttering, whether you plan on working for several hours or just 20 minutes a day until you reach your goal. This will keep you accountable and ensure that you get started. After all, at its core, clutter is really just delayed decisions.

When it’s time to begin, make sure you have several large trash bags at the ready, and labeled bins or baskets to help control the chaos.

Work in Categories

Organizing room by room seems like a logical approach, but decluttering expert Marie Kondo advises against it. She’s based her entire organizational methodology on the idea of working through categories first. Rather than starting in one room and moving on to the next once it’s finished, begin instead with a category – clothing for example. This way you won’t have to confront a new closet of clothes each time you move from bedroom to bedroom, because you will have organized the entire category in one fell swoop.

Break large categories (like clothing) down into smaller groups to avoid overwhelming yourself. Coats and jackets, seasonal wear and accessories can each be their own category. Still not sure where to begin? Start with whatever area bothers you the most. Cluttered bathroom cabinets? Mountains of mismatched shoes? Select one item or area and stick with it until you’ve cleared the whole category.

Love It, Use It, or Lose It

This is often the hardest part. Getting real with yourself. As you move through each item, ask yourself: Do I love it? Do I use it? If not, you already know what to do, lose it! Take to heart William Morris’ famous quote: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Sentimental items are hardest of all to let go of. How could you possibly toss that dusty shelf full of Little League trophies? We love professional organizer Monica Friel’s recommendation: take a picture of the sentimental item, but go one step further and write down its history and significance. This special record of your memories will be much more significant and valuable to you than a pile of things you don’t use or have space for.

Shop for Storage Supplies

Wait, shouldn’t this be the first step? Think again. It’s easy to get overzealous when you first embark on an organizing spree and start purchasing new bins and boxes. Slow down!

Answer these questions first: Where is it going? What is going inside? Only when you’ve successfully decided what to keep and what to let go of, should you start thinking about purchasing organizing materials. Take time to analyze your space. How do you need it to function? What would help your space be more efficient or convenient? What do you use everyday? How do you want the end result to look?

When you can answer these questions, THEN you can shop. (Don’t forget to take measurements!)

Keep It Up

Nothing beats the feeling of a freshly decluttered space. You can breathe easier, you feel more energetic and motivated, and you’re positive that you’ll always keep it in tip-top shape from here on out. Wishful thinking? Doesn’t have to be. It’s entirely possible, as long as you make a plan that you can stick to. Whether you continue to schedule regular decluttering sessions in your calendar or make rules such as “one in, one out” when it comes to adding new clothes to your closet, having a simple plan in place can set you up for success.

We want to help kick-start your organizational ambitions, so we’ve created the ultimate Spring Clean Decluttering Checklist with over 150 items to toss today. This room-by-room checklist will guide you through some of the most problematic areas of the home, and might even open your eyes to clutter you didn’t even know you had!

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