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5 Tips to Declutter Your Home and Mind

I started off the New Year realizing that I have TWO BIG PROBLEMS. Happy New Year to me, right? What could be wrong already, you ask? This:

  1. My mind is overwhelmed with my to do lists, crazy ideas and big dreams and
  2. My home is overwhelmed with stuff.
5 Tips to Declutter Your Home and Mind. Achieve a Clutter-Free Home and a Stress-Free Mind with these tips.

 

I realized that I big fat FAILED in one of my biggest goals when I decided to become a stay-at-home mom three years ago. I devised various mission statements for my home, family, marriage, myself and my blog. My home mission statement is to “create a peaceful sanctuary and fun playspace for our family so they can have great memories of love & fun when they think of home.” 

Is it a fun playspace? Yes, totally! We have more toys than Toys R Us. But what saddened me is that our home is still not the peaceful sanctuary I longed for. I spend most of my time at home and it seems every nook and cranny is crammed with stuff. Stuff we don’t need and stuff we can’t find when we do need it. I dread the inevitable, “Mom, where’s the (fill in the blank)”? The home clutter is starting to stress me out and it just adds to the already swirling tornado of ideas fighting for my attention in my head. 

So I’ve been taking steps to learn how to get focused to fulfill my mission for my home and hopefully, save my sanity. I’ve scoured through books, taken webinars and downloaded ebooks on my quest and thought I’d share the 5 Tips to Declutter Your Home and Mind that I’ve learned.

Note: This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.

 

5 steps to declutter your home and mind
 

5 Tips to Declutter Your Home and Mind

1. Dream Big

The first step is envisioning what you really want. Not what others expect of you, what you want. This may not be what you expected to hear as the first tip. But focusing on your dreams will help you identify which ideas in your mind and things in your home are worthwhile to keep to achieve your dreams and which ideas are just “clutter.”

Me? I have no problem dreaming big. In fact, I have trouble being realistic. I make grand schemes in my head that I expect to be able to bring to life. Just ask my husband before any kids’ birthday party I threw…or a holiday…or even the butternut squash bacon pasta that sounded like a good idea but my boys still consider a form of punishment. 

In January, I was completing the Passion Planner Roadmap for 2017. The roadmap is for us to write down all our lifetime goals and then focus in on the one or two that would be “gamechangers” for us. The “gamechangers” are the goals that “would have the most positive impact on your life right now.”

It’s then that I realized that my goal to live in our dream home did not necessarily mean I needed a 10,000 square foot mansion with a movie theater room and spa. But what I desperately wanted was our house, decluttered and decorated to create the peaceful sanctuary and fun playspace I dream of. Because I know myself, when my environment is decluttered, my mind is more at peace and I function better in my roles as mom, wife, and citizen. 

(P.S. – Check out how I use my Passion Planner as a bullet journal and how it stacks up to other planners in my Ultimate Planner Comparison.

passion roadmap

 

Since 2018, I have been using my Powersheets to do some deep soul searching into my life purpose and what goals were most important to me. Part of that prep work exercise was to do a life evaluation on different aspects of my life so I could be honest with myself, and see at a glance what areas I wanted to improve on. 

2. Let it All Out

Now that you’ve got your big dreams down, go ahead and let out all your other ideas too (and don’t worry you can add in more dreams if you want to). In Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen*, Allen teaches us that the first step in mastering our workflow is to CAPTURE every idea that is in our head. He suggests taking a couple days to write every idea down on a separate piece of paper including what a successful outcome would look like and any tasks associated with that idea. 

The purpose of this exercise is to clear your head so that you can focus on any chosen task at the time. It is also designed to help relieve the stress of having to remember everything you need to do. How often are you doing one thing and your mind is going off in another direction? How many of your grand ideas and dreams are overshadowed by the mundane phone calls, errands and fires you need to put out every day? 

I started the capture process by filling up index cards of ideas for my four categories (home, family, self and blog) and preparing a weekly running task list for completing the tasks I needed to and capturing any new ideas during the week. 

Tip 1 to Declutter Your Life and Mind is to Let it All Out. Capture all your big dreams, your wild ideas and your mundane tasks from your head and get it onto paper. As Author David Allen of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity suggests freeing your mind of all it is trying to remember will help you to focus on your task at any given time.

Go ahead and get everything out of your head and onto paper (or a digital notebook like Evernote, Trello or Workflowy if you choose). Just make sure you regularly declutter your mind and capture your ideas so that they aren’t clouding up your focus when you want to ACHIEVE your dreams. As Allen suggests, 

Keep everything in your head or out of your head. If it’s in between, you won’t trust either one.

Whichever system you choose to capture your ideas and turn them into context lists (again Getting Things Done* is a great resource for this step), be sure it’s complete so you don’t lose any of your brilliant ideas. Allen suggests a weekly review of all your lists to ensure all your ideas are captured.

Now that we’ve decluttered your mind, let’s work to declutter your home.

 

3. Make a Decluttering Plan

There are a few different ways you can tackle a decluttering plan depending on which method helps you get it done. As Ruth Soukup teaches us in Elite Blog Academy*,

The secret to productivity is being able to focus 100% of your attention on the MOST  important task at any given time.

It sounds simple enough, right? Well, maybe it is…

In Getting Things Done*, Allen tells us when you are completing a project, make a list of the next actions you need to take to complete it. In the case of decluttering, for example, my most important area is the laundry room.

The laundry room has become our catchall, hide it in there because company’s coming room. Do you have a room like that? Well every time I go to do the laundry (which is at least four times a weekday), I get stressed out just trying to walk in to get the laundry in and out. 

Now that I’ve identified my most important area, I break down the area into a list of all the little things I need to do to consider this area complete:

  • declutter the baskets we have stored on shelves
  • replace or get rid of black table we have stored in there
  • paint walls
  • bleach the floor
  • replace the floor (more of a wish list item)
  • dispose of old paint
  • disinfect sink

Whether I do it all at once or a little every day or every week, I’ve broken the area down into identifiable pieces and I know just what needs to be done next time I work on it. When I check them off of my goal tracker, I feel a sense of accomplishment and can visualize the results. I kept these pages in a ring bound bullet journal but I have since taped them into my Passion Planner so I have them handy when I work on my weekly to-do lists.

2017 goals tracker

Another method for decluttering is the KonMari method named after author Marie Kondo’s teachings as described in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up* (FREE with an Audible Trial if you want to listen to the audiobook while you declutter, win-win). Kondo teaches us to keep only the things that spark joy in our lives.

While not always realistic for someone like me, I do like her method of gathering categories of items from throughout the house to declutter at once. For example, when you sort through books, you’d want to gather ALL the books from your various bookcases, Kindle, rooms, car, stored in the garage/attic/basement etc. before you start purging. It helps you know what you have and what needs to be put back (only the things you love) or given away/trashed. I think I’ll be using a combination of decluttering our stuff by location for the downstairs rooms and the KonMari method for decluttering paperwork, recipes, photos/kids artwork, clothing, toys, books and magazines. 

4. Enlist Help and Say No 

The only way for a space to stay decluttered is to put things back where they belong. If you live with others, you’ll need their help in maintaining a decluttered space. It’s easier to put a couple things back when you’re done using it or at least every night before screen time or bed than putting away a weeks, months or years worth of clutter (believe me, I’m working on 13 years of clutter over here). 

I’m always nagging my kids to put their stuff away before they get screen time. I’m hoping the house rule of “if you use it, put it back where it belongs” will sink in some time before they leave the nest. Until then, bribery works. 

The other part is to say no to new purchases. Impose a spending ban. Go to Target less often. Walk to the grocery store so you aren’t as tempted to get impulse purchases because you have to carry it home. Carry a reusable shopping bag instead of getting a cart to fill up in the store, you’ll think about your purchases more if you have to carry it around. Use cash instead of credit cards. Think about what you can do to resist the temptation of new stuff. Your wallet and your home will thank you. 

5. Celebrate Your Small Victories

It’s the name of my blog and I’m all about celebrating your small victories. Whether you are motivated by ticking off things on a checklist or you need a bigger reward like a coffee at Starbucks, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. 

Have a glass half full attitude. Refocus your attention on the things you checked off your to do list rather than the empty boxes waiting to be done. Concentrate on celebrating the small victories as they are each important steps in achieving your bigger goals. It won’t happen overnight, so enjoy the journey and recognize the efforts and progress you’ve made. 

3 Easy Steps to Declutter Your Home + 7 Surprising Benefits

5 Time Management Tips to Achieve Your Dream Life

One Year to an Organized Life by Regina Leeds Audiobook Review

 

What do you struggle with decluttering in your home and mind? What prevents you from working through your decluttering goals? What kind of home and time management system do you hope to achieve? Let’s discuss what works for you and what doesn’t work so that we can help each other achieve our dream lives! 

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28 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog post. It was well thought out, and I learned a thing or two. My decluttering challenges are different given that I am 55 and my husband & I are retired. Being retired means I have time to create more ideas/dreams, both short and long-term, and they do clutter up my brain. I like the idea of writing each thing down on an index card (or the digital equivalent).

    Also, I agree that keeping only things that ‘“spark joy” can be impractical, I am now applying it to my wardrobe.

    1. Thank you Michelle, I am glad you found some ways to apply my post to your life. Getting ideas down on paper helps me break big ideas down into manageable pieces. Best of luck getting that wardrobe decluttered!

  2. Hey Tanya,
    I love these tips! I should make a decluttering plan, I started decluttering inf every room of my house and what happened was, I got too overwhelmed. I stopped. I started accumulating things in again. Now, I am starting again. I’ve been researching to make decluttering effective. One thing is for sure, I should have a plan 🙂
    Thank you for inspiring and for sharing this helpful post.
    Cheers,
    Jessica

  3. I have to write everything down!!
    I definitely reward myself for small victories, by blogging about them, and waiting for the atta boys!! lol

  4. Well, Tanya, to give you an idea of how much I NEEDED this post, it has been sitting in my browser since the day you posted it, and it has taken me this long to finally finish reading it, about 2 paragraphs at a time! ha ha

    Like you, I always have goals to declutter our house but I don’t get much actually done. A big problem – for you, too, I know – is how limited my energy is! My motivations, goals, and plans far outstrip the energy and time I have to carry them out. The necessary stuff always comes first (as it must) – medical bills (pretty much a full-time job!), financial to-do’s, anything to do with the kids, and all the day-to-day stuff that needs to be re-done again every week like laundry, groceries, cooking, etc. That doesn’t leave much time or energy for the stuff I WANT to do that isn’t necessary like getting the house in order.

    My other big problem is your #4 – enlist help! When the boys are home, they and my husband tend to just leave stuff all over the place, no matter how many pretty and practical ways of corralling it I have set up! lol I had to get all 3 of them those electronic tags for Christmas because they are always losing their keys! (even though we have a key rack right near the front door!).

    There are no easy answers, that’s for sure. But, as always, I found your post very inspiring and with lots of great ideas! I was especially impressed with the level of detail in your planning!

    Thanks –

    Sue

    Book By Book

  5. With spring right around the corner I bookmarking this post so that I can reference it when we start our big spring clean up and organization! Thanks for sharing such fantastic tips!

  6. This is such an awesome post, Tanya! I swear you wrote it for me, because I’m trying to declutter and organize my life. I’ve looked around and thought the same, I’m a SAHM too, so this place should be impeccably organized and dream-tastic, but it’s not. It’s almost organized and certainly not dreamy.
    Cheers to getting things done, friend!

    1. Aw, thanks Dean. I’m glad I’m not the only SAHM that feels that way but I’m sure there are plenty of us out there. I hope I can get there sooner rather than later for my sanity’s sake! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, always glad to hear from you!

  7. Thank you for linking up to the #HomeMattersParty

    Nothing stresses me more than clutter and dust. When your busy living and blogging it is so easy to just let it take over. I really like all you suggestions, especially outlining the very small steps you need to do to to complete a task.

    My favorite way to purge is book a day for the big cleaning. say Saturday. Then give myself a garbage bag quota of things to discard or donate away each evening of the week. I have no big plan for what goes in the garbage bag, just gather stuff that I don’t need.

  8. Tonya I am so impressed by how you’ve decluttered your mind! You’re “brain dumps” are very impressive. That book sounds great – I’m putting it on my library list! I’ve used both the KonMari and Decluttering by room methods- they’re both great.

    1. Thanks Angela. I just need to get my blog ideas down and my brain will be all dumped out…but that’s a long list of ideas I’ve accumulated over the years! Thanks for stopping by Angela, always good to hear from you!

  9. I know how you feel about a cluttered house making your mind cluttered. I recently cleaned and decluttered my cubicle at work and that helped me some. Now on the to the house! That, unfortunately, will be a much bigger challenge. Good luck with your decluttering! Thanks for sharing great tips!

    1. Thanks Mindy, yea I have a lot of trouble focusing so having these lists help. Since I’m primarily at home, I get easily distracted by clutter in front of me so the family room has to be picked up for me to concentrate. The boys are getting better at helping to keep it tidy at least. 🙂

  10. I have the hardest time with books because I don’t mentally classify them as clutter. I have been sorting and donating some to local library sales. Sometimes we feel better if we can give our clutter a good home rather than simply discarding! 🙂

    Another source of clutter for us is papers, since we are both writers. My husband has the goal of eliminating half when he sorts papers. It’s a good goal and realistic. It’s amazing how much space is freed up in each category of clutter–drawers, closets, bookshelves–if one aims for removing half or even a third.

    And finally, I have to remember to curb the anxiety and urgency. Clutter is related to entropy, one of the laws of nature! It will increase. So just enjoy the journey. I have fond memories of the toy clutter in our den, a precious sort of mess. <3

    1. Oh yes, books are tough to get rid of, with the exception of my CPA materials, I have trouble letting go of anything else! Papers are hard too for me, especially kids artwork. I like that your husband wants to get rid of half, that does sound good. I need to go through our papers, it was my January goal but it’s creeping into February it seems. Best of luck with your decluttering and thanks for stopping by!

  11. Goodness, but I can relate! I purchased a home last summer, moved-in and kept rolling. It’s 6 months later, and I live in a clutter of unpacked boxes…ack! Cheers for you and your process – thanks for sharing!

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