Organizing & Decluttering

6 Crucial Steps to Take Before You Start Any Decluttering Project

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An organizing and decluttering project might be overwhelming

You don’t know where to start. There are thousands of different tips and ways to declutter and organize, and too many choices paralyze us to do nothing or mindlessly trying a tip here and a method there.

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Antoine de Saint-Exupery (the writer of the most amazing book The Little Prince) says: ” A goal without a plan is just a wish”.

And he is spot-on.

Before starting decluttering project (or any project what-so-ever) you need to have a plan.

Having a plan helps you be the boss. You are in control. You are the project manager. You lead.

And knowing exactly what to do helps you overcome the moments of overwhelm.

When I did my first organizing / decluttering project years ago, I wish someone (or my-future-me) would have told me these 6 steps:

  1. Take a look
  2. What works?
  3. What doesn’t work?
  4. Be a Dreamer
  5. Be a Realist
  6. Action Plan

With these steps I would have been much nicer to my home and to myself. And my decluttering project would have started off on the right foot. 

Instead of just immediately diving into decluttering 100 things from all around your home or blindly choosing an area to start with, take these 6 steps before you start your organizing / decluttering project.

These steps also help you evaluate your home in any other time, so you know which room or area needs you attention.

You can download the workbook from our password protected free resource library. 

If you already have the password – click here.

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Step-by-step through the 6 steps

So take these 6 steps and do the exercises in the free workbook and your goal to have a balanced home is no more just a wish. 

1. Take a look

Walk trough your home one room at a time and just take a look. Give half a minute to each room – don’t go into details at this point.

Listen to your inner voice. What do you find yourself saying?

  • How would you describe your home?
  • Do you talk nicely about your home?
  • Do you pin the blame on yourself or your family members for the clutter/disorganization?
  • How does each room make you feel?

2. What works?

Give some positive feedback to your home. 

Your home gives you so much: shelter, comfort, place to relax, safety. So now it’s time to give back. What works well in your home?

  • What’s great about your home?
  • What room or area works very well for your needs?
  • Is there some things in your home that are well organized and  easy to find?
  • Is some room or area looking very nice and welcoming?

3. What doesn’t work?

Give constructive criticism to your home. 

Your home is the one place where you can truly be yourself, so don’t be a bully towards it. Don’t talk down on your home and no name calling. Be nice to your home even when you are criticizing it. 

What doesn’t work well in your home?

  • Is there too much clutter?
  • Are things missing?
  • Do you need to spend your time finding things?
  • Do you need to spend your time organizing things?
  • Do you need to spend your time moving things from one place to another?

4. Be a dreamer

Now that you’ve taken an overall look, go to the dreamer mode and create a vision. Ask yourself:

  • What would you like your home to look /feel like? 
  • Would you like to be able to find everything easily?
  • Would you like to have more empty space?
  • Would you like to spend less time maintaining your things?

5. Be a realist

And now that you know what you would like your home to be like, it is time to put the realist hat on and see, are you willing to do the work to create that dream for yourself. Be realistic when answering these questions:

  • How much time / effort / resources are you willing to invest to get to your dream outcome?
  • Is your dream realistic with the resources you’re willing to invest?
  • Are you asking too much from yourself and your home in too little time? 

6. Action plan

Now that you’ve taken an overall look, given positive and constuctive feed back, created the vision and defined your resources, it’s time to take action and start your decluttering project.

Organizing takes a lot of time and letting go of things is sometimes hard. To feel good about yourself and your progress, it’s important to 

  • Create action plan with “bite-size” tasks 
  • Prioritize tasks
  • Determine milestones 

To do the action plan, prioritization and determining milestones you should:

  • Analyze your home room by room to know which room to start (read more about this here)
  • Choose a room to start with
  • Write down all different areas in that room
  • Choose an area to start with
  • Declutter and organize that area to your liking

I hope after taking these steps you feel better about yourself and your home. And that you are calm and ready to start your decluttering project one task and one area at the time.

Read next: How to create a SMART decluttering action plan (with free templates).


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20 Comments

  1. I love the idea of assessing your home before you begin. It is very similar to what I did when I began decluttering my house. I followed the KonMari plan and she is also very into treating your home with respect and writing out a plan before beginning. We’ve been clutter free for over two years and it’s life changing! Keep up the good work, everyone needs to learn to live free of clutter!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Rachelle! It’s inspiring to hear from someone who followed the KonMari method. I enjoy her beautiful idea of “does it bring you joy?”. And I also like some other parts of her method – like how she folds the clothes. But the part where she teaches organizing by categories just wasn’t my thing. I got more kicks out of decluttering and organizing an area-by-area / a room-by-room and seeing instant results to stay motivated (even if it was in the beginning just in one corner of the house). It’s good that there are different methods out there so that everyone can find the best way to live free of clutter! And congratulations for being clutter-free for over two years! I love that!

  2. I love the idea of approaching this with intention! I wouldn’t have thought to think about what’s currently working/not working. Thanks for the great resources.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Ris! I’m so happy to hear you liked the idea of approaching decluttering with intention. I really like to give positive feedback and constructive criticism to different aspects of my life and pretend like they would be “real”. This way I can separate myself and my emotions for a moment from the tasks and things at hand, and look at them more like an outsider 🙂

  3. Decluttering – I feel like I’m constantly doing this and getting nowhere. These are great tips that I will definitely start to use. You’ve inspired me to try another decluttering project.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Amey! I’m so happy to hear that you’re inspired to try another decluttering project. You might enjoy my other article about decluttering: How to create a SMART decluttering action plan. I did my biggest decluttering project area-by-area and room-by-room. I needed to see at least one area that is clutter-free for me to keep on going. And when I did the next area and kept it clutter-free I started to believe that decluttering the whole house is doable. You can find the step-by-step instructions how to do create a doable action plan on that article (and free templates!). I wish you happy decluttering!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lindsay! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this article and I hope you’ll find the pdfs helpful. You might also like my other post about decluttering – How to create a SMART decluttering action plan. I visited your site and really liked your post about how cleaning quiets your anxious mind. I love how you share your personal decluttering story and your emotions around it.

  4. Easy to follow steps. LOVE #4 and probably where I’d spend most of my time 🙂 Visualizing yourself in your new, dream space can help people determine what their action plan should be. Great idea to provide templates!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Kendra. Visualizing is one of my favorite parts too! I love this quote from Walt Disney: “if you dream it, you can do it”. Sometimes I just enjoy the “dreaming it” part a bit more than the “doing it” -part 🙂 I visited your site and I love how you’ve named your blog categories! So clever!

  5. This is a great way to approach decluttering. The mental aspect of this task is so much harder than the physical, so preparing yourself and taking stock of your home really gets you on the right track. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Jada! I agree with you on every level that the mental aspect of decluttering is so much harder than the physical. I still have a few things left I know I want to get rid of, but there’s still something in me that doesn’t let me do that. I think there’s might be something those things still want to teach me 🙂 Btw. I’m so happy I found your post about creating Instagram highlight covers. I’ll definitely come back for that article when I start doing the IG stories.

  6. This is a great resource. My big goal this year is to declutter our house. I made up an action plan to help me tackle it, keep focused on the end goal and remind me why I’m doing it.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Sarah! And what a great goal! I think it’s so clever what you’re doing making an action plan and keeping focused on the end goal. I visited your blog and I think it’s so great that you are posting about your decluttering project and your progress. I wish I would have been blogging too back then when I did my biggest minimizing/decluttering project. Happy decluttering!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Angela! I’m glad you enjoyed this article. I visited your blog and I loved your articles about the different blogs and magazines that are looking for freelance writers. It’s great to find that information in one place! I bet I’m going to be visiting your site again!

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