Have you decluttered your home only to find certain areas accumulating clutter again right away? Or perhaps you simplified what you owned only to have a lot more things find their way back into your home. Decluttering isn’t a one and done process, which is why you need decluttering habits.
Why You Need Decluttering Habits
If you want to maintain your newly decluttered space, you need to develop decluttering habits. The choices that you make on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis greatly impact the state of your home.
It’s frustrating to put a lot of effort into simplifying to later feel like your house looks cluttered yet again. To prevent the clutter pile up, habits and behaviors need to change.
The end goal is to great a simplified space that stays that way. Decluttering habits will help you to get there.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” -Jim Rohn
How to create decluttering habits in your life
Now that we know why to create decluttering habits, now let’s look at how to create decluttering habits in your life.
1. Realize it’s a lifestyle change
Decluttering your entire home takes a lot of time and effort. You make tough decisions as you let go of the clutter you’d been holding onto.
You get to experience all the benefits of decluttering your home and the next goal becomes keeping it that way.
With any kind of change in life, in order to maintain the results, it requires ongoing effort.
If you were to start a new fitness plan, you don’t stop when you achieve your goal. Or if you had financial goals you were trying to achieve, you would need to keep up with it to continue to get where you want to go.
Realize that having a decluttered home is a lifestyle choice. It isn’t something that you simply go through and do once and it is done forever.
Ongoing maintenance is needed through changing your habits and behaviors.
2. Remind yourself of your goals
One thing I recommend before even beginning the decluttering process is to get specific with your goals for your home. Take the time to think it through and decide how you want your home to look, feel, and function.
The clearer you are on that end goal, the more likely you’ll be to end up there since you have a clear target.
This end goal is motivating during the decluttering process and afterward, it serves as a reminder of how you want to maintain the space.
If you ever begin to feel like you’re starting to get off track, look back at those goals. When you are considering bringing anything new into the home, decide if that item supports your purposes for your home.
Keeping your eye on the prize helps to create decluttering habits in your life.
3. Start the season off right
For most of the clients that I’ve worked with, the process started with the person getting fed up with the clutter in their home. Next, they went through the entire home doing a big declutter by sorting through their belongings and letting go of things they’d been keeping for many years.
Everyone goes at their own pace through that process. For some, it is a quicker extreme decluttering process and for others, it’s slower and happens over a longer period of time.
After decluttering the home, it becomes easier to identify what is no longer necessary. Every new season is a great opportunity to see what else should get decluttered.
As decor and clothing change, you have the opportunity to let go of the things you don’t use or love and have become clutter in your home.
Usher in the season by continuing to simplify as you focus on what you love most. Creating decluttering habits at the beginning of each season will help you to keep your stuff in check.
4. Create daily decluttering habits
One of the most important decluttering habits you can create are the ones you do daily.
Clutter accumulates in the home for two reasons. One is too much stuff and the other is not putting things away.
Just as progress begets progress, clutter begets clutter.
That means that you’re more likely to not put items back if you see other items already sitting out. On the other hand, you’re more likely to put things away when the counter is cleared off.
Your daily habits don’t have to take a lot of time. It is simple actions made consistently.
Create daily habits that work for your schedule and your life. We’ll go into more specifics in the next section.
About 45% of what you do on a daily basis is driven by your habits. When you work on work on changing those habits, you will find that over time those small changes lead to big results.
“I can predict the long-term outcome of your success if you show me your daily habits.” -John Maxwell
5. Set your own rules
Part of creating your decluttering habits is by creating your own rules. I personally don’t like rules imposed on me, which is why I am a bigger fan of creating my own simple solutions to things like capsule wardrobes.
It’s also why I focus on simplicity and not minimalism.
I’ll give you some ideas of potential rules to create, but feel free to pick and choose what will work for you and alter them as needed.
Types of rules to create
1. The 1-minute rule: If it takes less than a minute to put it away, do it immediately.
2. Replacement rule: If you buy or are gifted an item, immediately sell or donate the item it replaced.
3. 15 minute clean up rule: Schedule a time in the evening where you put away any misplaced items. Do the dishes. Pay special attention to countertops and any other clutter hot spots in the home.
4. When you last used it rule: Decide an appropriate length of time to keep items that haven’t been used recently.
If you experience seasons where you live, don’t get rid of all the coats in summer. Wait until you’ve gone through cooler months and noticed what you did and didn’t wear.
For other types of items like tools and kitchen appliances, how long do you think it is appropriate to keep if it’s not being used? Items can quickly become someday and what-if clutter if you aren’t realistic in setting your last used it rule.
5. Get it out rule: So you’ve decided you’re not going to keep something, great! Now the goal is not to hang onto items waiting to be sold or donated for an extended period of time. Set a deadline and create a regular routine for getting decluttered items out of the home.
6. Slow the flow
Another key aspect to maintaining your space is changing your shopping habits and keeping a close eye on what is coming into your home.
The daily habits and rules you created will help you deal with the clutter created from not putting things away.
In this section, we’ll be looking at slowing the flow of stuff coming into your home to keep the excess from piling up again.
An essential one of the decluttering habits involves looking at your shopping habits. Analyze your credit card statements and receipts to see where you are buying things that are contributing to the clutter in your home.
Often during the decluttering process there are realizations of how certain shopping habits led to the clutter in the first place. Pay attention to what you learn there and remind yourself of it in the future.
Perhaps you’ve made a habit of shopping for fun and it’s time to replace that time with something else. Notice where you have made choices that have contributed to the clutter so that you alter those habits.
Sometimes the inflow of clutter in your home comes from gifts from other people. If you have young children this can be particularly challenging.
The way to slow the inflow with gifts is by having open conversations with family members. It also may mean rethinking your own gift-giving practices too.
Simplifying doesn’t mean you have to get rid of giving gifts, but you may want to consider alternate ideas like experiences and other clutter-free gift ideas.
Birthday and Christmas traditions can lend themselves to additional clutter coming into the home too. Consider simplifying birthdays or opting for an experience instead of a party is possible.
Talk to family members about alternative Christmas traditions to consider as well. Our family decided to do a gift exchange with the adults rather than everyone buying each other a gift.
With the cousins, we opted to do an experience together each year rather than buying more gifts for all the kids. We found that our kids enjoyed the experience tradition so much more than getting additional gifts. There are ways to reduce holiday clutter if you think outside the box.
Slow the flow of clutter entering your home by considering alternate traditions, gift-giving, and changing your shopping habits.
7. Make it convenient
As you create decluttering habits, make sure that you make decluttering easy. Have a box, basket, or container of some kind easily accessible for putting unwanted items.
As soon as you come across an item that is no longer serving you, put it there. Procrastination fuels clutter, so staying on top of things in your home and having a designated spot for what’s going out makes it easier.
Your last step is to get it from that box or basket to out of your home and not just in your car trunk. You’ll better be able to enjoy your decluttered home by not keeping unwanted items for a lengthy period of time.
Are you ready to start your decluttering habits? They will be the key to maintaining your beautifully decluttered space.
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Probably the bane of my decluttering intentions is getting the items out of the home, especially if we’re donating them. The closest thrift store that takes more than just clothes and (fancy) decor was closed for a long time during the lockdown, so that didn’t help (even now, I’m not sure if it’s open). But the main problem is that we don’t get out very often, and have an odd personal schedule, so we don’t have a lot of time to get to stores before they close.
So we have a few boxes of things that we decided to donate … probably in early winter, mostly. They are still in the garage. I think I’m going to try to get rid of at least one box this week.
I agree, if we set a deadline for ourselves, it will be much less likely to end up like our current situation, which is simply moving the clutter from the house to the garage.
On the upside, I think we’re going to do another big garbage run soon. I always love garbage day. It feels good to get rid of more junk!
I love garbage day too, Amanda! I’ve had some giveaways pile up in my garage in the last few months. I’m planning to see if any friends wany things first and then do a combination of Buy Nothing and donations. It can feel like a lot of work to let things go sometimes, which reminds me to be even more careful about what I bring in.
Try the VVA Vietnam veterans. Go to pickupplease.com and they’ll come pick anything up from your porch or whatever. It’s so convenient and for a great cause. I do it many times a year.
Have you tried a buy nothing group? I love these and it helps with schedules, giving and helping your community, etc. you can join online or on Facebook.
In the UK we are still in lockdown so getting stuff out of the house is hard. I will be so happy to see stuff gone!
The 15 minute tip is one I’m going to try – usually in the evening I’m just too tired, but I know that if I tell myself it’s “just 15 minutes” I will be motivated to do something to clear away.
In the U.K. we have large storage containers so we are able to drop our goods in there and they are then collected when full, but sometimes things spill out on to the pavement (sidewalk). But during our first lockdown these boxes were sealed and no one could access them. I hired a 12yard skip (dumpster) and got rid of all garden clutter and garage clutter and my son filled his car and took the rest to the charity shop so I am managing to keep on top of the clutter. I manage to declutter regularly. I am enjoying decluttering and have no problem getting rid of things I don’t love or use. I still have a way to go, but seriously the home is better. It is hard to change the patterns of a lifetime. My FOCUS is on Learning to live with Less.
if you have things like sheets, towels, and blankets either give to a vet or animal shelter. You might also check with your local homeless shelter. Some churchs take donated stuff for a fund raiser yard sale .
Commendable tips to declutter. It really matters. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.
Gist. Live simply. Travel light.
I only have very few clothes. No wrist watch. No jewelry.
I honor simple lifestyle. Just sharing.