I had so much fun helping Dylan Dreyer clutter clear her closet using the 4 steps! You can watch the segment above or click here.
Below are the tips that I shared with Dylan. I hope this recap helps you with your own clutter clearing!
The 4 Steps to Clearing Clutter:
1.Choose an area: It is okay to start small! For example, if you start in the kitchen, begin with one drawer. In a bedroom you may choose a bedside table or dresser. Removing just one item from your home that is not loved or useful, or cleaning out one side of the closet, as Dylan did, can have a positive impact on your life.
2.Take everything out: Take everything off the shelf, out of the drawer, or empty the closet. This step ensures you address each and every item. Otherwise, it is too easy to cheat!
3.Clean: Physically wipe the shelf, drawer, or closet. The reason this step is so important is because once we have an empty, freshly, cleaned space we will be more mindful about what we choose to put back. We won’t want to clutter it up again!
4.Decide if the item is loved and/or useful: Anything that is not loved or useful, is clutter. To determine if an item is useful, ask questions such as, when is last time I used it? Do I have something else that fulfills the same function? Could I do without? To decide if something is loved observe your thoughts and feelings. If you have negative thoughts or emotions when you hold the object, chances are the object is not loved! Also, tune into your body. If you hold an object you love your body will expand and you will take a deep breath; when you hold something you don’t love your body will contract and tighten.
Organize After You Have Finished Clearing:
If you try to organize clutter, you will waste time, money and energy. Learn more here.
There are three practices to achieving a clutter-free home:
1. clutter clearing (the process described above)
2. organizing (finding a place in your home to store the objects you choose to keep)
3. homekeeping (making a habit of putting things back in their home)
You will want to finish clutter clearing before you begin organizing. You can place the loved and useful items back in the closet or drawer, or on the shelf, but think of this as a temporary home. You won’t know for sure where things belong until you have cleared your entire home. In the meantime, you will find that an area filled with only things that are loved and useful is naturally organized.
Make a Clutter Clearing Plan:
A clutter clearing plan allows you to start small and work room by room, area by area, and commit to addressing each and every object in your home. While even clearing one drawer or removing one item from your home that is not loved or useful can impact your home and life, if you want to reach a new level of simplicity you will need to commit to your entire home. The clutter clearing plan will keep you on track. Also, you will be more motivated to clear and less overwhelmed when you have a checklist that defines your beginning point and end point.
Use Natural Cleaning Products:
Air pollution is often 2-5 times greater inside our homes- even when we live in urban areas! One of the leading causes of indoor air pollution is conventional cleaning products. Support your health and the planet’s (avoid plastics and single use items like paper towels) by making your own. To clean Dylan’s closet, we used this glass bottle filled with water and a few drops of castile soap and rags. You can also use 2 cups of water mixed with ¼ cup vinegar (vinegar is available in glass bottles) and a few drops of essential oils such as lemon or grapefruit. Keep in mind that vinegar may be too acidic for some finishes like stone or marble.
Tips for Letting Go of Clutter:
Photograph or scan: If you are having a difficult time letting go of sentimental items- it can help to take a picture of the item. This way the photograph will elicit the memory (make sure it is a positive memory) but you won’t need to take up physical space to store the item. Also, if you come across framed photos, or cards that you no longer want you can scan the letter or photo and donate the frame.
Gratitude: If we find ourselves overwhelmed during the process- which can often happen just as it is time to get things out the door- it helps to have a moment of gratitude. We can be thankful for the things that we are giving away– for how these items served us, for the people who gave them to us, for showing us what is no longer working in our life, or for the fact that we had the money to purchase these items. We can also be thankful for the loved and useful items we have decided to keep.
Intention: We can also let go with the intention that these items serve someone else for their highest and greatest good. The Today Show hosts decided to donate their items to Thread Up. We don’t want to clutter up someone else’s life or the planet. Therefore, we want to give in the way we would like to receive. Only donate items that are clean and in good repair. This will ensure that the items find a new home.
Keep Moving While You Clear:
Clutter clearing can feel like a meditation, walk on the beach, or exercise. The key to getting into a flow while we clear is to keep moving.
Here are some things that break the flow and solutions:
Worrying about where we will keep the loved and useful items: find them a temporary home; a permanent home will become clear after you finish decluttering.
Over-deliberating: If you can’t decide whether to keep something or let it go- just keep it!
Projects: If you come across a project, such as photos that need to be placed in an album, decide which photos to keep and which to let go of- but don’t put them into an album until you are done clearing. Save projects for after you have finished clearing and organizing.
Coming across someone else’s stuff such as your partner’s or roommate’s: You can’t clear someone else’s clutter because only you know what is loved and useful to you. If you come across someone else’s items- place them in a basket, bin, or box or an a shelf and ask them to go through it at a later time.
Coming across broken items: First ask yourself, if the item were working, would it be useful and loved? If so, commit to repairing it in a reasonable time frame. Otherwise, let it go. If you think it something that someone else would take the time or money to repair, donate it with a note explaining which part of missing or broken, ideally with a manual or directions included.
One Final Thought:
Dylan found money while she was clutter-clearing! Whether it is finding money, more love, or joy this magic often happens when our clients clear clutter. This really speaks to an important aspect of clearing clutter. Often the life we want – the joy, peace, love and abundance – is already here. We just can’t see it or experience it because there is too much stuff in the way! But once we clear the clutter, our dreams are revealed!
If you have children, be sure to check out our latest book, Clutter-free Parenting: Making Space In Your Home For The Magic of Childhood And The Joy of Parenthood! It’s full of tips for busy parents.