First, decide which room, area or items you’re going to tackle. We will do this in the next section.
Don’t try and do your whole house at once. To begin with, I recommend you choose specific sets of items or particular areas and start with them only: for example, your books, bathroom cabinet, shoes, bags or simply clearing your desk or table will be a good start. Don’t try to do everything at once, however much you’re in a muddle.
Always keep your paperwork until last, unless you are doing a paper declutter only.
It’s really important to work through and complete steps one to four for each set
of items or area before you move on to the next.
For a deep purge I recommend you try to set aside a block of 3 hours minimum, 5–6 hours max. I might sound like a tough taskmaster, but here‘s the thing: decluttering is a messy business and once you start, you need to finish! You may find it a challenge to cope with
the chaos you’ll create at the start, but don’t panic, I’ve built in time for clearing up.
• 9 – 11.30am – start weeding
• 15-minute break
• 11.45 – 1.15pm – continue weeding (start clear up at 12.45pm for a half-day declutter)
• 45-minute lunch break
• 2 – 3.30pm – more weeding
• 15-minute break
• 3.45 – 4.15pm – more weeding or start to categorise, but only if the weeding’s finished.
• 4.15pm – start clearing up and putting away
• 5.15 – stop!
The more things you pull out and put back without resolving what to do with them, the more overwhelmed you’ll feel. If this happens you’ll lose confidence in your ability to complete the purge and be less inclined to try it again. So accept that this process is going to take over your morning, afternoon or entire day and create a lot of mess at the start.
A big area of floor is good, so push back furniture to give yourself plenty of room. If you have a bad back, you can work on a table top. Set up containers so that you can reach them and attach your cards. You might have to walk to them, depending on how much stuff you have and how big the items are, but ideally stay seated during the weeding process.
It really does help to have a second pair of hands. But tell them, politely, that you don’t want them to hassle you or interfere. Their job is simply to hand you piles of stuff and to bag up and take out the recycle, donate and bin it piles, freeing you to focus on making decisions.
You may prefer gentle classical music or something faster to give you energy. That said, steer clear of music if it’s going to be distracting or make you feel emotional. Just use it to calm your ‘monkey mind’ that’s complaining about doing this process – remember you need to focus on making decisions.