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The Secret To Easy Decluttering

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Make Decluttering Easy

It’s July and I continue to have a hard time being productive. It’s super hot right now and that affects everything from my workout to actual work to cooking dinner in the evenings. So I’m continuing where I left off on the topic of how to get shit done. This week I’m focused on the secret to easy decluttering, which is to separate the thinking from the doing.

What do I mean by that? When you don’t feel like decluttering (or anything) but know you need to, the key is to remove as much friction as you can from the process. Think ‘easy glide’ instead of ‘constant struggle.’ What causes friction? Decisions, mostly. Any time you don’t have to make a decision before doing something increases the chance that you will actually do it. 

Making your decisions ahead of time greases the skids of your decluttering project. It makes the work go faster. It eliminates decision-fatigue and burnout. And it conserves your energy so you can use it for the actual job of decluttering.

Separating the thinking from the doing means having a plan going into your decluttering project. That plan is a to-do item in itself. It’s a little time investment that you can do before you start the work of decluttering.  What decisions do you need to make? I have listed the 4 most important below, so curl up on your sofa with a notepad and do your thinking.

What areas are you going to declutter?

where to declutter first

The simple decision of what area to declutter is the first point of friction to remove. ‘But I need to do my WHOLE house!’ you wail. Okay, then – just decide where you want to start. Some things to consider when making your decision include:

Which areas are causing you the most stress?

What will the impact be on other members of the household?

Should you begin with a small area first to set yourself up for success?

Where to begin your project is a really important decision make first so you know right where to go when it’s time to start.

How much time are you going to spend decluttering?

Favorite timer for time boxing

This is where a lot of people mess up – they don’t decide ahead of time how much time they are going to spend in a single decluttering session. They get started, succomb to overwhelm, and flame out. Deciding how much time to spend before you start releases the stress related to how much time it’s going to take.

Use an actual timer to time box your session. (I love to use this specific timer – it’s a game-changer!) When the timer goes off, you’re done for that day – even if there is ultimately more to do. Your brain is comforted by the knowledge of when the job is going to end so it doesn’t throw up barriers or distractions (friction) that get in the way of your productivity.

How will you decide what to declutter?

decide what to keep or donate

This one is important and a common friction point for most people. Making decisions item-by-item is a recipe for overwhelm. It’s better to have a set of filters that help you identify donation candidates.  Here are some examples:

Things you no longer use (year or more)

Things you don’t like but have kept out of guilt or obligation

Things you have multiples of
Separating this thinking from the actual decluttering will save you so much time and energy.

Where you are going to donate?

donate when you declutter

Following through with donations from your decluttering project is one of the hardest steps to complete but also the most satisfying. So separate the thinking from the doing by deciding ahead of time where you are going to donate. Do you want to donate someplace specific to a category (like clothing or books) or go with someplace that takes all categories?  Do you have any organizations that are near and dear to your heart that could use your stuff? Once you’ve decided where to donate go hop on their website so you can see where they actually take the donations, what their hours are and any other relevant details. That way when you finish you’ll know exactly where to go and when and won’t lose any momentum trying to figure it out.

You can make the process of decluttering easy by separating the thinking from the doing. It’s the secret no one talks about!

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