The quick and efficient way to declutter that saved me time and energy {+ printable}

Raluca Loteanu September 13, 2017
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how to declutter quickly

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I've gathered here the most helpful tips on how to declutter quickly and efficient! If you want to make your house a more friendly and spacious place, I'm sure that these tips will help you!

I was standing in the middle of a room full of boxes and piles of things. My head felt dizzy just from thinking that I needed to handle all that! On the other hand, my son was pretty happy in the middle of all that chaos. He was moving things around, playing with every single new item that he found, hiding in the boxes and giggling. At least one of us was having fun!

For me, everything was just so overwhelming!

It all happened a couple of weeks before moving to the U.S. last year. I needed to declutter my whole house and decide what we need to throw or donate, what we need to deposit in a small storage place, and what we need to take with us overseas. I never imagined that we had so many things in our house! Clothes that we never wore anymore. Toys that my son never really used. Souvenirs from places that I didn’t even remember that we visited.

It took me a huge amount of time to handle all the things that we cluttered over time. And it was hard! But that experience taught me two important lessons:

– After a lot of struggles, I discovered a method to declutter efficiently.

– I understood that all that clutter was making my life more difficult and I decided to simplify everything. So in our new house, we have adopted a more minimalist lifestyle and we only keep things that are really useful for us. And I am committed to regularly declutter everything in order to keep things as simple as I can.

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What made that experience with decluttering my old house even more difficult was the fact that I had a very strict deadline. In the middle of all the preparations for our move in another country, I needed to make sure that I have all the things in the house sorted before we left. But in most of the cases, we don’t have a deadline

But in most of the cases, we don’t have a deadline for decluttering. On one side, this is a great news because we don’t have an additional stress added to the process! On the other side, this can make us procrastinate and postpone the decluttering over and over again.

This is why today I want to share with you a method that works absolutely great for us! And can work for you too!

It all starts with a commitment!

For this method to work, you need to be prepared to really focus on it. I promise you that it is a very simple process if you put it into practice. I use it regularly to make sure that we will never go back to the stage where we had a lot of useless things in our house.how to declutter quickly

The thing that I love most about this method is that it can be included in our busy schedule! If you have a child around all day, you certainly know how important this is!

So this is how it works.

1. First, you assess the level of clutter in your house and you decide on a specific number of days that you think you’ll need to deal with it. If you don’t have a lot of things in your house, this period can be a week. If you feel that you need to make some major changes then 30 days would be a good period.

2. Write down your decluttering plan! This helps you be more committed and focused! You can use the printable planner at the end of this article or you can create your own planner. It is useful to have it at hand, so you can display it on the fridge.

3. The method focuses on 15-minute intervals of decluttering that you plan throughout the day. You can plan just one interval of 15 minutes every day or you can plan 2-3 intervals if you feel that you have more time to dedicate to decluttering. The main rule is to really respect the 15-minute time limit. You may feel tempted to do a lot of things at once (at least I felt so!) but on the long run this will only make you feel tired, overwhelmed, and demotivated.

4. Once you have a number of intervals, set the exact times when you will schedule them. You can pick exact hours or time references (e.g. after breakfast, during nap time). Write these times down on your decluttering planner. If it helps, you can set daily alarms on your phone to make sure that you don’t forget.

5. The last step is to write down the categories of things that you want to declutter. The number one reason why we fail to finish decluttering is that the task becomes too overwhelming. We enter in a room full of things and we don’t even know how to start. Or we start but the whole thing takes so much time that we give up! But there is this helpful trick that can prevent us from feeling overwhelmed!

Each time when you declutter, only focus on one category.

It needs to be a very specific category and not a general one. (e.g. “Clothes” is not a good category because it is too general. But “shirts”, “pants”, “scarfs” are much more specific categories and they make decluttering easier to handle.)

When you decide on one category, keep in mind that you will only have 15 minutes to declutter it. So make sure that this is realistic!

Here are some examples of categories, in case that you need some inspiration:

– living room: books, DVDs, toys

– closet/dressing: shirts, dresses, pants, sports outfits, hats, scarfs, shoes (separate categories for each family member)

– bedroom: jewelry, makeup products, magazines

– kitchen: dishes, cutlery, pots, products in the pantry, storage bins

– bathroom: skin care products, cleaning products, bath toys

how to declutter quickly

For each day on your planner, write down as many categories as the number of intervals that you agreed to include in your daily schedule. It is better if you start with the categories that are the most important to you. The ones that will have the most impact in your life. Once you’ll see the first results, you will be more motivated to keep going!

If you have more categories than the spots in your schedule, just write them down on a separate paper. You can start taking care of those after you finish your first decluttering plan.

Now that you have your complete plan, it’s time to put it into practice!

For this, you will need 3 boxes: one for the items that you keep, one for the items that you donate, and one for the items that you throw.

Each time when you have a 15-minute interval scheduled, start by setting the timer for this period. This will give you the motivation to hurry and the decision-making process will be shorter. Gather all the things in the specific category that you want to declutter. Having all of them in front of you helps you see if you have too many similar items.

Then start going through each item and ask yourself:

– Do I (or another family member) use this item now?

– Have I (or another family member) used this item in the last half a year?

– Is this item really helpful for you? (Or it is only making your house more cluttered?)

If the answer is NO to all the questions, you certainly need to donate or throw that item. If the answer is NO to the first two questions but you still think that the item is helpful, maybe you need to reassess the item. A dress that doesn’t fit you now but seems great for the future when you hope to be thinner, it’s really not helpful. Instead, it can bring joy to someone who can actually wear it now. Or you can sell some of the old dresses and buy a new one that looks great on you right now!how to declutter quickly

After all the items are on one of the 3 boxes (keep, donate or throw), your job is finished! You just need to put the items that you keep back in their place. And you will be able to see a tangible result for your 15-minute decluttering interval.

My advice will be to throw and donate the things in the other two boxes as soon as you can. The fact that you’ll no longer have them in your house will allow you to see the progress on the decluttering. And progress is the best motivation to keep going! You can also take some before and after picture that will show you the improvement.

A difficult decision

For me, the most difficult decisions when it comes to decluttering are the ones related to the things that are not really useful but that have an emotional significance for me. The first clothes that my son wore after birth. The plane tickets from the first romantic vacation with my husband. Even my son’s favorite baby book that has his teeth marks on every page.

If something is really unique, I keep it in a special box with memories. For the rest of them, I use a little trick: I take a photo of it and I store it in a special folder on my Google Drive. This way, I can still keep the memory but without adding clutter to my house. And the truth is that those memories will always be in my heart and that’s the best place to store them forever!


To wrap it up, here are the main steps for decluttering quick and efficiently:

– Make a plan and set 15-minute decluttering intervals to include into your daily schedule. (You can download a printable planner at the end of the article.)

– During those 15 minutes, focus on only one very specific category and try your best to not exceed the time.

– Use 3 boxes to sort each category: keep, donate, throw.

– Make a commitment to stick to the plan every single day. I promise you that you will love the results!

I hope that this method will be as helpful for you as it is for me! Once you will be able to enjoy the results of your work, you’ll see that it is totally worthwhile!

Download our printable template and create your own decluttering plan

The printable file contains a planner for 30 days of decluttering. But you can use it even if you plan a shorter number of days. Displaying the plan in a visible place in your house will certainly help you be more focused and motivated.how to declutter quickly

To download the printable you just need to enter your email address in the below form. This will also give you access to the Playful Notes community and our weekly newsletter. You will find there a lot of other ideas and our full printable collection.

More from Playful Notes

How to declutter toys: a guide to cleaner rooms and happier kids

A step by step guide to toy rotation: a way to use fewer toys and encourage more independent play

How to create a family meal plan to save money and time {+ printable meal planner}I've gathered here the most helpful tips on how to declutter quickly and efficient! If you want to make your house a more friendly and spacious place, I'm sure that these tips will help you! | How to declutter | Decluttering ideas | Decluttering tips | Minimalist living | Decluttering challenge | Decluttering planner | Decluttering checklist #Decluttering

I've gathered here the most helpful tips on how to declutter quickly and efficient! If you want to make your house a more friendly and spacious place, I'm sure that these tips will help you! | How to declutter | Decluttering ideas | Decluttering tips | Minimalist living | Decluttering challenge | Decluttering planner | Decluttering checklist #Decluttering

credit photo: Africa Studio / shutterstock.com – credit photo preview photo: Adha Ghazali / shutterstock.com

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Raluca Loteanu

If you find yourself on this blog I invite you to discover us as the happy family we are, who look with optimism and joy at life. If you want to contact me, you can find me on email, I gladly respond to each message.

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