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How to Declutter Your Home in 5 Simple Steps

Ready to declutter your home? Start with these simple 5 simple steps to get you started decluttering any room in your home!

It happens. You get busy and shove random items into a room and just close the door. You tell yourself that you’ll think about it another day. Then days, weeks, months, even years, go by without dealing with it and the problem grows!

summer living room decor

Clutter happens to all of us, and if we’re not careful it can pile up, causing stress, anxiety and even more problems.

The truth is, it’s hard to create a beautiful home when there’s too much clutter. And I’ve been there! It’s normal, but it’s a simple fix that I’m going to share with you today.

I’m going to share 5 simple steps you can take to get your home decluttered very easily!

Ready to find peace in your home again?

You can’t decorate a home with clutter. Get started on your decluttering journey with 30 days of encouraging and helpful e-mails to keep you motivated!

I’m using my old office/guest room as an example in today’s post. But I’ve applied these same steps to every room, closet and drawer in my home. And they work!

My Cluttered Room: The Office/Guest Bedroom

Note: We have since moved from this home and now I have a new office. But this was my office in our old home!

If you’ve been following my 30 Days to Less of a Hot Mess posts, then you have caught wind that I’ve decluttered and organized my office! Yay! I can’t wait to share all about that today.

My office is in a corner of my guest bedroom. The space pulls double duty, which can sometimes be a challenge. In the past I have had a hard time keeping it clean and guest-ready, so it really stressed me out. Honestly it just stressed me out to walk in there most days because it looked like this:

messy room

And here’s another angle from the door …

messy bedroom

I certainly didn’t want to work in there! (I’m trying to gloss over my embarrassment that I even shared those pics, because even my closest friends don’t necessarily get to go in this room. 😬)

I always ended up working at the kitchen table or the couch or wherever I wanted, which was not very conducive for productivity and running a business. I need to have a room and work without the clutter.

So, my #1 New Year’s goal was to declutter the whole room. The whole dang thing! I was tired of not being able to find what I needed and having to buy things I already had. I was tired of tripping over random junk laying all over the floor. And, I was tired of spending my time looking for things instead of spending them with my family.

This method works, my friend. And it will work on any room in your home. And in time as your work through your home and declutter your kitchen and your living room and get rid of clutter throughout, you’ll reap the benefits of decluttering your life. Less stress. Less wasted time. And more time spent living your life instead of managing your things. It’s really a win/win!

Woven Tray and Vase filled with Hydrangeas

Before You Start: Decluttering Tips

1. Plan Your Timeline & Goals

Before you just jump into this massive project, set aside a day or two to get it done. If you only have 30 minutes, then use what you can, but set your expectations accordingly.

  • Write down your goals for the space. Do you want to see the floor, have a better work flow or have everything more organized when you’re done?
  • Make note of the problem areas of the space. Is there a certain corner that collects clutter? What type of clutter is it and think about how to address it.
  • Set a date for when you plan to finish and how much time you have to dedicate to this project.
    • When I decluttered my garage, I knew it would take more than a day. So I set aside a week to get it done. But most rooms can be done in a weekend.

2. Set Timers

Don’t try to work 8 hours straight on this project. Work in small increments and then reward yourself with a walk or a snack (or a nap)!

Set a timer for 15-45 minutes, then take a 5-10 minute break and come back for another round. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle another section of the room.

3. Create a Sorting System

Gather empty cardboard boxes and trash bag for your “donate,” relocate”, “recycle” and “trash” piles. This will keep you from making a bigger mess than necessary.

Throw away the trash immediately after you finish purging the room. And put the donate pile in your car. Make a note on your calendar for dropping it off at a donation center. Go through the relocate pile quickly once the room is finished.

4. Have Fun!

Listen to music or a favorite podcast while you work. Or turn on a favorite movie if you’re in a room with a TV in it. But don’t try to declutter in silence. That will have you quitting in a hurry!

kitchen sink area with Riviera bar stools

How to Declutter Any Room, Closet or Drawer

Once you’re in the right mindset and have your timers and music ready to go, it’s time! Choose your room, closet or drawer and let’s get started!

1. Empty the Entire Space

Pull everything out! And I mean everything (except for the furniture, but you can do that too).

  • Things will look so much worse before they look better, but trust me on this. You want to touch every item that is coming or going in that room (or closet or drawer or space). This is key!
  • Use the sorting method with one box or bag for each category: trash, donate and relocate.
  • Have the donation and trash boxes set up as you bring items out of the room. That way, you can quickly toss them in if you already know you want to get rid of them.
  • Everything else can stay in the pile and you’ll deal with it in the next step.
decluttering process
This was only half of the room!

I even cleaned out the drawers and closet. It was all gone. I promise that you will purge more and throw away more if you touch it all. Here is some of my stuff in the dining room; this wasn’t even all of it!

2. Consider Your Needs for the Room or Space

Once everything is emptied from the room, take a look around and decide if the layout and organizational systems are working for you.

I analyzed the furniture layout and reorganized it a little bit. If you want to get rid of something or add something, or rearrange your storage spaces, then this is the time to do it!

In my office, I left the desk in the corner, but I moved the bed over to the opposite corner so that there is more floor space.

messy modem and router

I also realized that the extension cord, modem and router weren’t working for me in the corner of the room. They were plugged into the middle of the wall next to my desk, so it was just unsightly! And I got rid of my brown filing cabinet (see this post), so my printer needed a home as well.

printer stand

I found this gorgeous small table that fit my needs perfectly. The new monogrammed basket fit nicely on the bottom shelf and holds all of my electronics that used to live in the corner.

And my printer found a new home, too! I’m so happy with how it looks now.

printer stand

Rethinking your space to fit the items you need to keep is a key part of organizing your home to work for you.

3. Group Like Things Together

Once I’ve pulled everything out, analyzed the furniture and finished the initial trash and donations, I start grouping like things together.

I put all of my ribbon in one pile, all of the notebooks in one spot, all of the office supplies in another.

And slowly, but surely, I grouped everything with something like it. If something didn’t work into an obvious category, then I made my own miscellaneous pile.

And at the end of the day if I still couldn’t figure out a category (place) for it and it didn’t spark any joy, then I got rid of it.

organized decor closet
This was my home decor closet in our previous home.

4. Ask Yourself Two Important Questions

Before returning anything to the room, you’ll want to ask yourself two important questions about each item you still have.

Take notes from Marie Kondo and ask yourself, “does this item spark joy?”

I like to take it a step farther and ask, “do I use this?”

If you’re anything like me, then you may struggle with this step. Here are some key phrases that mean something does NOT spark joy.

  • I was going to use this later for something; I just can’t remember what it was.
  • “Aunt Sandy” bought this for me, so I can’t get rid of it, even if it’s been sitting in the back of my closet for 7 years.
  • But we might need it someday. (If you don’t use it, get rid of it!)
  • It’s a perfect good, working lamp, so I hate to get rid of it. What if I decide to change out all of my lamps tomorrow??

I think you get the picture. If you ask yourself if you should keeping something and your yes is not a resounding yes, then I’d question whether or not it brings you joy.

If you have to hem and haw about keeping something, then it needs to go. You will feel so much freer and won’t remember what you got rid of 30 minutes after you’ve dropped it off.

If you’re still struggling to get rid of something. Place it in a storage container and put it in a closet, then set a reminder on your phone for 6 months down the road. If you still haven’t needed it or have forgotten about it when the reminder goes off, let it go.

5. Put it all back in a way that makes sense!

Nail down a vision for how you want the space to work for you! And the put things back in place in an organized and thoughtful manner.

It’s ok if there is empty space. Let your home breathe and don’t rush to fill it just to fill it with something.

I have rearranged the closet tremendously from its original state, but I’ll share that in another post. I want to share  my new office corner with you in its pretty and organized state!

organized office after decluttering

Gah!!! I’m just so obsessed with how it turned out! I love, love, love how pretty it is and how functional it is all at the same time! (Don’t mind the bed post in the picture, I’m going to replace it soon!)

organized desk

Yay! I can’t believe that this is actually my work space and that it’s actually organized with everything I need and love and nothing more. So absolutely fun. It’s quite freeing to not be cluttered and able to find everything I need. I have plenty of room to spread out and get my work done.

organized office desk

How to Keep Your Home Clutter-Free

After you’ve pat yourself on the back for a job well done, it’s time to set up systems for keeping your home functional, beautiful and clutter-free! We might have to do a room refresh here and there, but let’s not do this whole thing again. Right?!

1. Throw Away Trash Immediately

If you see something that is trash, have a habit of taking it to the trash can right then. I make a habit of when I walk out of a room, I look around to see if anything needs to be thrown away or taken out of the room. And then I take it with me as I go.

2. Tackle Piles Quickly

If you start to see piles take shape, attack them quickly and with a vengeance! No growing piles, here!

Having a cleaning crew come to my home regularly keeps me accountable when it come to piles. I highly recommend it, if you can find room in your budget.

3. Set Aside Regular Time to Declutter

Either once a month or once a week, schedule a little bit of time to declutter a space in your home. Maybe one weekend a month, tackle another project or do a refresh on a room you’ve tackled before. This will keep it from getting out of hand again!

clean office

Take the 30-Day Decluttering Challenge

If you are committed to decluttering your home, I would love for you to join our 30-day decluttering challenge! You will receive one e-mail each day for 30-days (with some rest days built in) and after you’re done, you’ll be amazed at your home! Join me!

Ready to find peace in your home again?

You can’t decorate a home with clutter. Get started on your decluttering journey with 30 days of encouraging and helpful e-mails to keep you motivated!

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73 Comments

    1. Hi there Rachel,
      The table holding the printer? If so, it is no longer available unfortunately. Sorry I’m not more help!

  1. Hello, Laura, My room looks like yours. Thanks for sharing your thought. I loved the way to described.

  2. It’s pretty amazing that you have cleaned that your office behind those piles of everything. I just wonder how you motivate yourself to completely take those away from your sight. I’m still on the stage of organizing everything in my house.

  3. What an unbelievable change! Thank you for being so transparent. It gives the rest of us hope!
    The room looks beautiful. Quick question. I’m wondering where you got the door screen between the two rooms pictured. Is it for pets or children?

    1. Thank you NormaJean! I can’t remember where I got the screen from, but probably Walmart or Target. I’m pretty sure it’s marketed for kids, which is what I use it for. But I’m sure you could use it for pets, too! πŸ™‚

  4. Oh Laura the before pictures look exactly like my office/guest bedroom only my desk is dark wood!!!!!
    It is such a mess and today I am trying to find some important papers for the accountant so you can imagine how that is going!!! I did find some other papers that he needs though. How embarrassing!
    Your new office looks adorable so I am expecting mine to look something like that one day soon. Thank you for sharing your befores and afters.

  5. If you can part with your stuff you can de-clutter easily. It is when it is hard to let go of items that you tend to hold on to them. I have been de-cluttering for the last 7yrs. I am winning now. What I have done is to be hard at not buying anything anymore unless it is urgent. NEEDS. not WANTS. Times I have regretted letting go of items after my husband died. I then needed the things I let go. But now being hard and trying not to be attached to items. I gift new items and so the clutter is getting less because I have stopped SHOPPING.

    1. Yes!! Less shopping is such a huge key. I have had to train myself to realize that everything I buy is adding to my home, so really, if I want to keep the balance, I need to remove something when something new comes in.

  6. Hi Laura – I’m so happy to have found this post. My husband and I are undertaking these steps right now for our office. I too would like to know, how many hours/days it took you to complete your office declutter and redo? Thank you for the help πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Angela, I can’t remember exactly, and it depends on family situation/busyness I’m sure, but I think it took 2-3 days to empty out the room and go through it all. I had a LOT of stuff to sort through. And then putting it back in didn’t take much time at all, because it wasn’t nearly as much! Hope this helps! Blessings, Laura

  7. I must know where that eat cake by the ocean sign is from! That is like screaming my name! LOVE it!

  8. Empty out the room sounds challenging unless you have a good place to put it! But it is a great way to re-organize!!

    Thanks for sharing at #bloggerspotlight

  9. I so need to just empty my craft/guest room! Unfortunately, that isn’t an option (the rest of my family couldn’t handle it unless I can get them to go away for a week!). But, you have inspired me to go into my craft room right now and get to work on it. Pinning and sharing! Thanks for linking up to #HomeMattersParty

  10. Thank you so much for these helpful tips. In just told my hubby and son that after his soccer games today we will be returning home and start declutting things not wanting or have not used in years. Thanks to your wonderful tips, I already have ideas what we will do tonight.

  11. I have so many rooms that need some decluttering! Whenever I declutter one room it seems like two more need help! I’m going to use these tips! Pinned

    1. I know the feeling!! I’m still decluttering some rooms, even after doing it every day for a month! It’s a journey, for sure! Thanks for stopping by, Robin!

      xo, Laura

  12. Your office looks lovely; but once you emptied the room, how long did it take to go through everything? I can’t imagine emptying a room or I’d be more buried than I already am!

  13. Isn’t it crazy how your home becomes clutter fast. Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it. I love your tips

  14. I need to declutter desperately. I am loving that paining with the blue shades.. so pretty! I really love this Charcoal Faux Leather Bench+ I would love to add this to my bedroom as an accent piece!

  15. WOw! Love the office! We are in the process of unpacking from moving while remodeling and living in our home. Talk about a mess. My husband and I are so ready to get done and this article helped me with getting organized. I have so much in my office that I don’t know where to take once it’s out of the room but I will figure it out somehow. Love your blog.

    1. Hey Teresa! Thank you so much!! Moving is so hard, but it’s such a wonderful time to declutter and organize things well. But you’re right, it can feel completely overwhelming. I get overwhelmed just by moving everything out of a room, sometimes! πŸ™‚ Good luck with all of the packing and organizing! And thanks for reading!! xo, Laura

  16. Wow these are all great and I love the office set up so nice! I would love to get the Distressed White Towels Hook
    Item #: 148942 so cute and would look so great in our bathroom!

  17. You have no idea how happy your messy pics made me:P They give me hope:) My “office” is a desk in the corner of the dining room, so, unlike yours, everybody sees my mess. And like yours, it goes unused because I can not reach the bottom of the pile. I am a WAHM also – elsewhere in the house. Hope though, the last few days have seen a shrinking of the pile.

  18. This office looks great. Thanks for the tips, inspiration and “organizing wisdom” of not expecting an over-night redo. I try to do it in a day, get frustrated and have half mess/half organized. Happy I stumbled upon your blog.

    1. Oh I’ve so been there, Michelle! I have to take several days to do one project (or weeks sometimes) because, kids and life. But keep pressing on and finish well! It’s so worth it! πŸ™‚ xo, Laura

  19. You are so brave to show those photos! I have had rooms like that in the past and it took a lot of work to get them under control. I really like the idea of pulling everything out and sorting into piles as it comes out, and then resorting before putting things back in. I often need to try more than once to make a decision on an item

    For now, I have my craft space in a very visible (and small) spot in my kitchen. I’m hoping this is going to keep me honest in trying to maintain control!

    1. Great idea to keep it out in the open! My crafts are in my closet, so they can get crazy pretty quickly if I’m not careful. πŸ™‚

  20. We are in the process of doing this in my husband’s office. Perfect timing for me to read this. Looks beautiful!

    1. Yay, Jinger!! I hope it’s motivating! You wouldn’t believe how many bags of trash and boxes of donations I got out of this room. At least 6 bags of trash and no telling how much donated. It’s so freeing! You’ll be so thankful you did it when you’re done!

  21. I am actually afraid to empty out my rooms….Help me God, please! your after pictures are really nice, and really peaceful.

    1. You can do it, Tanya!! I just know you can. πŸ™‚ Maybe start with 1 drawer or 1 closet and work your way up. It might be less intimidating. πŸ™‚ – Laura

  22. Is your computer a laptop on a stand or a desktop that comes that way? I always have such trouble leaning over to see the computer when I try to type. I see that the keyboard is separate. My MAC is a laptop and I would love to have a stand.

    1. Hi Barbara, it’s a laptop stand and I’m obsessed with it! I recently purchased it because I found myself hunching over the computer all of the time and my back was in pain from not having good posture. And yes, the mouse and keyboard are wirelessly connected and work beautifully. It was this solution or purchase a separate dest top computer. I’m so glad I did this!
      Here are the affiliate links to what I got:
      Stand: http://amzn.to/2iejMoG
      Keyboard (I bought the refurbished one, and I think it’s new, maybe just was opened once? Works beautifully! Also, the keyboard in the pics is an older, cheaper plastic one I had and I hated using it. I tried it for a few days before I decided to buy the Apple one): http://amzn.to/2j6gdFr
      Mouse (I didn’t get this one refurbished, but I probably should have!): http://amzn.to/2ihu8aI

      I hope this helps! My new work station is one of my favorite things in the office now. – Laura

    1. Thank you, Nadia! The table is one of my favorite things ever! And it fits my needs perfectly!! πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by! – Laura

  23. You have inspired me! With the craziness of the past months, my office looks like a tornado hit it. Thank you for a wonderful article that will help us to get ours more organized!! I love your monogrammed basket. I could definitely use several of these to organize my office better. Thanks for all your help!

  24. I feel better now! My room looks like yours and since you were able to accomplish this I have brighter hopes.
    Thanks for being so brave. Had I not seen the before I would no believe I could really tackle my project.

    1. Hey Tasha, we ALL have rooms like this, or have had them at some point. I hope to never have one again, though. πŸ™‚ I still have closets, though, that would rival my old desk area. So, I still have much work to do! You CAN tackle your projects and you will be so grateful when they are done! Go get ’em!! – Laura

    2. Everything looks lovely. I would just spray paint the bed white and save the money as an alternate option! I have always been a fan of the empty the room method! I’m happy you are pleased and enjoying your fresh and pretty space! Thanks for sharing! Taking before pics really helps you keep the room clean longer I find!!

      1. Thank you, Trish!! I ended up putting that bed in my daughter’s room when she grew out of her crib and I bought a new daybed! I just need to put it together … maybe this weekend! πŸ€ͺ

  25. My desk–which is in our bedroom–does not look that far off from your before pic, so don’t feel bad! This is motivating me to tackle it ASAP.

    1. You can do it, Alison! I still have a top of a dresser in my bedroom that rivals my old desk. I’m tackling it soon!!! You’ve got this!

      – Laura

  26. I love the Natural Farmhouse Multi-Use Wall Organizer and would definitely get it if I won the giveaway and maybe even if I don’t.

      1. Hi I’m doing this one room one closet at a time, I can see taking everything out of a closet, or a small space but why take it out of the room? I’m not understanding that concept. I’m doing what you are suggesting except taking it all out I can do a pretty bad room start to finish in one day(stay at home mom) all kids in school. I usually start on one side and start piles or boxes like you said, on a bed ECT then clean dust and then move to other side of room and volla it’s done. Thanks great blog

        1. I just have to do it that way … πŸ™‚ It’s probably just the way my brain is wired, but I have to remove everything to really see the space, see how I want it to function. The KonMari book recommends touching everything, so I guess it’s my way of touching everything, but I have to go one step further and take it out of the room!

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