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Too much stuff? How to clear the clutter, step by step.

Too Much Stuff? Your 5 Step Decluttering Masterclass

How does your home make you feel? Is it your sanctuary – or does it bring you down, make you feel heavy and lost?

The stuff we have in our lives has a huge impact on our state of mind. But when it comes to clearing the clutter and getting organsing systems in place – sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. We get overwhelmed by the bigger picture, have no idea where to start – and end up doing nothing.

I guarantee that if you follow this Decluttering Masterclass you’ll be well on your way to an organised, clutter-free home – and an easier life.

Step 1: Know what you really want

Before you do any organising or decluttering it’s important to know what you want. I’m guessing that when you hop in your car you know exactly where you’re going (school, work, grocery shopping, family celebration). If you don’t know the exact route you’ll work that out beforehand so you can get to where you need to be.

Organising is just like that. If you don’t know what you want or where you’re going you’ll have no way of knowing if you’ve got there! Think long and hard about your organising goals. Write them down –  ‘feel’ the physical, emotional and spiritual impact they will have on your life – and work toward them. It’s these goals that’ll keep you on track when the going gets tough.

Step 2: Step back and have a really good look

I know you live in your home and you’re well aware of what’s happening in each and every room, cupboard, nook and cranny, but sometimes we get too close to the problem – and this is where we can get stuck in overwhelm. If you can step back and look at the space objectively you may see that the job isn’t that large or can be easily solved. If it’s bigger than you can handle that’s OK too – you just may decide to ask a friend, family member or professional for help.

Step 3: Create a plan of attack

If you’ve ever built a house or done renovations you know that you can’t do anything without plans.  Organising and decluttering are exactly the same! By creating a plan of attack you’ll know what steps to take, when to take them, and be able to adjust them if and when problems arise. Most organising tasks have a logical sequence and you can only follow this sequence if you have this plan. It’s super important – don’t skip it!

From my experience it’s best to do Steps 1 – 3 before you move on to Step 4 and 5. I’d even suggest doing them on different days. This is because the first three steps are very analytical and problem-solving based, whereas the process from here on is very physical.

Step 4: Time to get your hands dirty

This step, unfortunately, is where most people start their organising journey. Sometimes they also buy organising products like storage boxes or extra shelving to help them do the job. The problem with this is that you will only know what you need if you’ve worked out your goals, thought about the problem and come up with a plan to move forward.

If, however, you’ve done Steps 1-3 then it’s time to jump in and get decluttering! You know what you have to do, so it’s a matter of setting aside the time to do the work.

A word of advice – it may have taken you a long time to get to this point of disorganisation and clutter in your home, so expect it to take you a while to declutter and organise it properly. Work in blocks of time, sort all of your items first, get rid of what you don’t need and then organise everything the way you want it.

Step 5: Celebrate!

Out of all of the steps in this Masterclass, this one is the most important. To declutter and organise any room of your home properly takes a long time. Marathon runners get a medal at the end of their event so it’s important for you to give yourself one too! What does your ‘medal’ looks like? (Mine’s champagne!)

I’ve decluttered and organised hundreds of families’ homes and I know the physical and emotional toll it can take on people. Be gentle with yourself, knowing that your hard work will have a huge impact not only on your physical space, but also on your time and mind – other areas which may feel the positive effects of living in an organised space.

In the comments below, tell us about your hotspot areas for accumulating clutter. Are you feeling motivated to schedule in a clear up? 

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  1. Clare Greig on February 17, 2014 at 11:00 AM

    I am really getting into this new way of organising, however I am not sure I do much of the planning so thanks for this.

    • Helen Butler on February 18, 2014 at 7:48 PM

      You’re welcome Clare! If you do take time to plan you’ll find it’s quicker to organise and your efforts will last longer. Good luck!

  2. Leanne on February 18, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    I am in the midst of a big de-cluttering project in advance of a move. It feels amazing to be free of stuff and also to give better homes to unused items. Little by little, one drawer/closet at a time. It’s how I want to live always!!

    • Helen Butler on February 18, 2014 at 7:49 PM

      Decluttering before you move is the right way to do it Leanne! I hope all goes well on moving day for you. 🙂

  3. Lucy on February 18, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    My cleaner puts things away in a different place every time. It drives me insane as I have absolutely no idea where anything is in my house anymore. Meanwhile, our cleaner has secured herself a job for life!!!

    (Saying that, I am going to de-clutter my desk this week as that is all my fault!!). Thanks as always for the advice.

    • Helen Butler on February 18, 2014 at 7:51 PM

      My cleaner does that too Lucy, mostly in the kitchen when she’s putting things away that have been on the drying rack. In the rest of the house though I make sure everything’s put away in the proper place before they come – so I don’t have to go hunting! Good luck with your desk! 🙂

  4. Yvonne Stahlie on February 18, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    Decluttering makes the energy in a home flow more freely.

    • Helen Butler on February 18, 2014 at 7:52 PM

      Absolutely Yvonne! I interviewed a Feng Shui expert recently and she said that decluttering is the first step in the Feng Shui process. Can’t get better proof that that! 🙂

  5. Janet on February 18, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    How do you get into this professionally. All this comes naturally to me and am always being called to de clutter friends houses.

    • Helen Butler on February 18, 2014 at 8:23 PM

      Hi Janet. I’ve been in business for six years now. I’ve always known I wanted to start a business but it wasn’t until a friend saw that I was good at organising things that it all gelled for me. If you are good at it and are keen to start a business I’d be more than happy to chat with you. Also if you can get your hands on any books by Julie Morgenstern it will help you understand human organising nature a bit more + improve your organising skills. 🙂

      • Lucy on February 18, 2014 at 9:35 PM

        I dont suppose either of you live in Madrid? I need de-cluttering badly!!!

        • Helen Butler on February 19, 2014 at 12:01 AM

          I’m in Brisbane (Australia) Lucy – so that’s not too helpful if you want someone working side by side with you, but I do have online courses. Just visit our website and check them out. 🙂

          • Lucy on February 19, 2014 at 10:43 AM

            Well if ever you find yourself in Europe………

            (love Brisbane…I was last there 22 years ago though!!)



  6. shannon on February 19, 2014 at 1:41 AM

    My problem is that why I am great at organizing and believe in having minimal possessions my husband is a collector and had tons of “stuff”. I have learned to love him as he is, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions about how to compromise?

    • Helen Butler on February 19, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      Shannon, this can be a tough one. When partners are on different organising wave lengths it can cause arguments and a lot of stress.

      I would encourage you to set up simple systems, ask your husband to come on board with them (tell him that these systems help you run the household more easily and reduce your stress) and then sit back and cross your fingers. If he does come on board, great! If he doesn’t, you’ll have to decide how you’ll react to that and how you’re going to cope going forward.

      I’d also encourage him to keep his collections in a certain part of the home, for example a spare room or garage depending on what he’s collecting, so that they don’t impact on the rest of the home and your family. And remind him that you only have the space you have so set boundaries around how much he can keep and where it will live.

      Good luck! 🙂

    • Helen Butler on February 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM

      PS Shannon, you might be interested in this article on my website called Clearing The Clutter Isn’t About The Stuff – http://clutterrescue.com.au/clearing-the-clutter-isnt-about-the-stuff/

  7. […] from organising photos and videos, decluttering and purging old toys and clothes – to taking a course, starting a home business, or getting into a fitness groove and eating […]

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