Wondering how to start decluttering? Start with this 5-step decluttering prep plan.
LAST UPDATED: JANUARY 2021
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work my friends? Today, we kick off the Organize & Refine your Home Challenge!
We’ll start by laying down a solid foundation during the month of January. During the next four weeks, we’ll learn how to start decluttering, nail down our planning tools, and establish two key home organization systems in our home.
This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Since much of the work involved with this Challenge involves decluttering spaces in your home, our first order of business is to complete the decluttering prep work.
How to Start Decluttering: a 5-Step Declutter Prep Plan
1. Create a Decluttering Kit
Create a decluttering kit by gathering five to six containers that you’ll use consistently for sorting items. My preference is to use laundry baskets, but you can use regular cardboard boxes, bankers boxes, or plastic storage tubs.
Your decluttering kit should also include a set of signs for each of the main sorting categories:
- Shred, & Recycle
Check out my Decluttering Tool Kit, which contains a set of signs that you can download and use during your decluttering sessions (as well as several other useful resources for decluttering.
If you have access to a laminating machine, it’s a good idea to laminate the signs so that you can easily reuse them.
2. Create Household Donation Stations
When you come across an item in your home that you no longer use or want, where does it go?
Every household needs a designated holding place for discarded items. If you don’t already have a designated place, one of your tasks this week is to set up at least one Donation Station in your home.
Some people like to have a box or bin on each floor of their home, while others can get by with one bin.
Really, the term donation station is a bit of a misnomer, because you may decide to sell or trash some of these items. I like to use the name because it rhymes, but really it’s for tossing anything that you plan to remove from your home!
We also have a donation station for general household items set up in the corner of our guest room.
Donation stations make it easier for you to get in the habit of purging unwanted items on a regular basis, which decreases the necessity of scheduling major decluttering sessions in the future (isn’t that appealing?)
3. Designate a Staging Area for Sellable Items
Eventually, your donation station bins will become full and you’ll need to empty them out.
If everything is earmarked for donation, then it’s a simple matter of making a run to the donation center of your choice. If you are planning to sell some of the items in a garage sale, consignment store, or online, you may need a more long-term place to store these items until it’s time to sell.
For example, I’m planning to participate in our neighborhood yard sale in a few months. I’m setting aside these holiday decorations in my staging area to sell in the yard sale.
My staging area for sellable items is located in a corner of my basement storage room.
If you don’t already have a long-term staging area for sellable items (and you anticipate selling at least some of your discarded items), add this task to your To-Do list this week.
4. Explore Options for Getting Rid of Clutter/Discarded Items
In my work as a professional organizer, I often found that clients were much more willing to let go of items when they knew they were going to someone who could use the item (and not going into a landfill).
There are countless options for donating, selling, and recycling the stuff you no longer use or love.
You may already have a favorite local donation drop off-site, such as Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or Habitat Restore. If not, use Donation Town to access an online nationwide directory of local charities that will pick up your donated items for free.
There are also non-profit organizations that take specific “niche” donations or that benefit a particular group in need (check out this amazingly comprehensive list of these organizations). Sometimes your donated items can do more good when you use one of these options.
Planning on selling your items? It pays to do your homework.
A question you’ll need to continually ask yourself throughout the Challenge is:
Is selling worth the effort and time?
My pro organizer buddy Darla DeMorrow wrote a thought-provoking post that breaks down the economics of selling vs. donating (it may sway your decision).
Options for selling include:
- local Facebook buy/sell/trade groups
- Facebook Marketplace
- local consignment stores
There are also plenty of online sites that buy used electronic devices such as:
My local community publishes an annual Recycling and Reuse Guide that’s an amazing resource for decluttering. It contains a list of all of the local consignment stores and donation centers.
It also tells you where to recycle just about anything (think old t.v.’s, hazardous waste materials, building materials, etc.). Take a moment this week to see if your community offers a similar resource. It will come in very handy this year!
So if you were wondering how to start decluttering your home, I sincerely hope I answered all of your questions on this topic. If not, ask away in the comments.
Organize & Refine Your Home Challenge: This Week’s Assignment:
- Gather sorting containers
- Download the Declutter Tool Kit & print sorting category signs
- Establish donation station(s)
- Establish staging areas
- Explore options for donating and selling
Once you’ve completed your assignment, share an image of your donation station or discard staging area on Instagram and tag me (@refined_rooms) (use the hashtag #OrganizeandRefineChallenge). Let’s cheer each other on as we check the items off of our monthly checklist 🙂
Then it’s time to tackle the other three foundations of an organized home:
This post is part of the Organize and Refine Your Home Challenge