Decluttering. Where do I start?

So you have watched Marie Kondo and The Home Edit and you want to be one of those people whose lives are transformed. You want to be surrounded by bare surfaces, organised cupboards and room to think and breathe. Maybe you made a new year’s resolution to declutter. Now you are wondering…

Decluttering. Where do I start?

1. Put on some music or a podcast. (optional) There are lots of decluttering podcasts if you want some related inspiration.

2. Start with the low hanging fruit, to gain some momentum. Declutter the floor. Put washing in the machine, dishes in the dishwasher and turn them on. Take out the rubbish and recycling. Fold laundry and put it away.

3. Next, choose a space a focus on. I like the kitchen because I cook a lot, so there is plenty of time and stress to be saved from having it in order. Even non-cooks access the kitchen cupboards several times a day. Also, the kitchen is a functional space with fewer sentimental items, which makes the process fairly perfunctory. If the entire kitchen is overwhelming, how about the pantry or fridge? Or even a set of drawers. Start small and the rest can follow.

4. Take everything out and pile it on your bench or floor. As you go, roughly group items together in categories that make sense. Baking ingredients, cereals, tea towels, pens, stirring implements. You get the idea.

5. While you are sorting, take out expired food and broken implements and put them straight in the bin. Also extract three further piles. Donate (items of some value that you don’t need). Move (things that belong in other rooms). Sell (items and appliances which could be worth listing online or including in a garage sale). Put these three piles out of the way. What remains will be returning to the valuable real estate that is your kitchen.

6. Wipe the heck out of those shelves. Goodbye spilled sauces, oily patches, dust, crumbs and the detritus of your culinary life!

7. Put your remaining items away, considering what is in high rotation. Do you bake every day, or only at Christmas? Does your family eat a lot of cereal? Put the high-volume items in the easy-to-access part of your setup. This is generally between hip and eye level. Occasional or niche items can be on top shelves, and heavy items on bottom shelves for ease and safety of retrieval.

8. Make sure you have room for everything, plus a bit extra. If it’s too crammed, you can’t see all the contents.

9. Take all your Move items to their appropriate rooms and put them away.

10. Stand back and admire your masterpiece.

11. Choose another space to declutter. No more “Decluttering. Where do I start?”, because you have started. You are on your way to organised bliss.

12. Deal with your donations and sales either right away or eventually, depending on your preference and long term goals. If you have more decluttering to do you can pile them up, but if you want them out the house then it’s fine to act now to create space.

More decluttering tips

– Be realistic about your space and your items. If you only use an appliance very rarely, perhaps you can give it away and make do with what you have. Single-use items like pie makers, corn poppers and apple corers take up cheeky room without giving much in return. Your space and mental energy is worth more than the 10 minutes per year these kinds of things might save you.

– Shelves may need to be adjusted depending the height of what you are storing.

– Deep corners can be made more functional by Lazy Susans which are available at Kmart, Ikea and online.

– The stacking of cans, jars or bathroom items can be made easier with small wire shelves called risers. (see pic)

– Group similar items in wire baskets or plastic tubs. (see pics) You might already have some unused Tupperware fit for this purpose.

– Speaking of Tupperware, I store mine with lids on. It’s a space-hungry method but pays its way in time savings. No more searching for lids!

– Longer term, maintain order so you don’t have to revisit the problem. Put things away in their designated spots immediately. Reseal packs to avoid spillage (I just use elastic bands). Check your supplies before you head to the supermarket. Little habits help. If you don’t wash dishes regularly they pile up and clutter your space. If you don’t take out the recycling, empty yoghurt containers end up on the bench.

– If you are still asking yourself “Decluttering. Where do I start?”, curl up with a book. A Slob Comes Clean has some great tips, and the KonMari method is very popular.

Get in touch if you need help!

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