Tips for a Quick Declutter

The next time you are in a hurry to clear out the clutter try these tips for a quick declutter.  Everyone is busy it seems.  Clearing away the clutter doesn't have to take a lot of time.  For the best results, be consistent and use a step-by-step, systematic approach to clean up quick. 

Grab a basket

Designate an empty basket, box or bin for clutter control.  A plastic laundry basket works well.  You will use this to collect all the out of place items and trash as you move through the house.

Move from public to private

Start with the most visible or public room in your house such as the living room and work your way through the house finishing with the more private spaces – the bedrooms and bathrooms.

Take it step-by-step

Gazing at a room full of clutter can be intimidating.   You might not know where to start.  Using a step-by-step approach makes the task more manageable.  Break your search for out-of-place items into categories.

  • Scan for dirty dishes
  • Scan for trash – wear an apron with pockets for stuffing trash into or tie a plastic grocery bag around the handle of your basket for keeping trash separate.
  • Scan for clothing – if your family is anything like mine, you’re sure to find some discarded socks, sweatshirts, or ball caps lying around.
  • Gather loose papers - newspapers, magazines, school papers, invitations, bills, fliers, etc.  These you will sort through at the end.
  • Look for items that are out of place – if they belong in the room you are in, put them away.  If they belong in another room, put them in the basket.  As you move from room to room, remove items from the basket and put them in their rightful places.  
  • Throw out the trash.
  • Sort through the paper pile – when the last of the stuff is put away, take a few minutes to sort through any papers you've collected and put them where they belong whether it’s the recycle bin, an organizational binder, or a file of some sort.  

If you implement this strategy regularly, you should be able to maintain order with just a quick declutter, 15 to 30 minutes at a time.  This won’t necessarily apply to individual bedrooms (which should be maintained by their owners), but it should work for the shared spaces in your home. 

Additional Quick Declutter Tips

Clean as you go

You can prevent clutter by employing a clean as you go work ethic.  When you finish with an item, put it away.  This simple practice makes a huge difference in the build-up of clutter. 

The clean as you go quick declutter strategy is particularly useful in the kitchen.  Keep a pan of soapy water in the sink while you cook or rinse dishes and place them in the dishwasher when you’re done with them.  Put spices and other ingredients away as soon as you finish using them.  Keep a trash can or recycle bin handy for placing empty containers, peels, and so forth. 

Store stuff where you use it

One of the greatest contributors to clutter is out-of-place items.  The problem arises when items are used in a different room than they are stored.  Folks just set such items aside when they are done with them, rather than making the trip through the house to put things back where they go.  Stuff is much more likely to get put away to begin with when it’s stored in direct proximity to where it is used.

Establish a system to prevent clutter buildup

A system is a plan for managing your stuff, a way of making sure things end up where they belong. Chances are you already have some systems in place.  An effective system is a natural extension of your lifestyle and habits.  It's common sense and easy to implement.  Check out my page Systems for Decluttering for more information on this topic.

Make it fun

Your quick declutter will go a lot quicker if you enjoy doing it – or at least don’t mind it. Listen to music, a podcast, or a book on CD.  If you have kids, make a game of cleaning up.  Set a timer and try to beat it, offer a reward to the person who completes the most chores in a set time period, etc.  Celebrate your success.

Get help

You’re probably not the only one making clutter in your home, unless you live alone.  You shouldn’t be the only one working to control the clutter either.  Getting others involved makes sense for a lot of reasons.  Most importantly, splitting the work helps to keep it manageable. 

Keep things in perspective

We all have clutter.  Don’t let it get you down.  Take control with these tips for a quick declutter.  Regular efforts to clear away the clutter will keep it under control.  

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