Ah, clutter…we all love our stuff, don’t we? However, too much clutter weighs you down psychologically and even slows you down physically. For this reason, setting goals for decluttering will give you a clear vision and help you overcome common obstacles to create a clutter-free environment for you and your family.
Especially now, when we’re spending a lot more time at home than we’re used to, having a clutter-free (or at least managed) living space is essential. There are tons of projects that need doing, work and schooling to squeeze in, and we still have the same amount of space.
Whether you’re a minimalist or a maximalist, you’re probably attached to some things that you need to let go of.
Benefits of Setting Goals for Decluttering
Sometimes clutter becomes such an established part of our living space that we stop noticing it. However, it’s still there nagging at us in our mental peripheral. Also, you’ll be surprised at how mentally freeing it is to have a clutter-free space.
- When your kitchen is clean and clutter-free, you’ll enjoy cooking instead of dreading it.
- If your bedroom is tidy, it will be an oasis for rest.
- Work in a home office? You’ll be much more productive if your office is clutter-free.
- If the playroom or kiddo’s bedroom is cleared of toys they no longer play with, they’ll enjoy their rooms more and play more creatively.
- Finally, when your family room or living room is clutter-free, it’s a place for creating memories and enjoying your family.
When you declutter, you’re freeing up your mind, personal space, and psyche to live a more rewarding life.
Cleanliness and Decluttering
Here’s a fact: you can’t effectively clean your home if it’s cluttered. If you try to clean, it will take you twice as long to clean as it should.
Furthermore, if you’re trying to clean a cluttered room, you’ll end up either spending your time decluttering instead of cleaning or moving piles of clutter to clean underneath them.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and wondering if you should clean or declutter, make up your mind to invest some time into decluttering before you tackle the deep cleaning. You’ll be glad you did.
But wait! Don’t just jump into your decluttering project immediately. With a little planning, prep work, and setting goals, you’re much more likely to be successful in your clutter-free venture.
1. Get it on paper
The first step to setting goals for decluttering is to sit down and create a plan of attack. If your goal is to get your bedroom decluttered, break the broad goal (declutter bedroom) up into smaller goals.
For example, at the top of your sheet of paper, write “Declutter Bedroom.” Underneath, create a numbered list of different areas that you’ll be decluttering. For example:
- Bedside tables
- Under the bed
Under every item on your list, create bulleted sub-tasks. For example, under “Drawers,” you’ll write more specific goals such as “throw away all socks that don’t have mates.” Under “Closet,” write “remove everything I’ve not worn in the last year.”
We’ll go into more detail about this below when we discuss SMART goals below.
2. Set up the boxes (or bags) you need
Before you begin decluttering an area, create the following boxes (or bags). Label them!
After decluttering the area you’re working on, deal with the boxes immediately. Specifically, items in the “Keep” box should be put where they belong.
Likewise, the “Trash” box should be put by the trash can on the curb or in a trash bag. “Donate” should be taken to the trunk of the car (and dropped off tomorrow, not next month!).
Your “Gift” box should be distributed to whoever you’re gifting the items to. And that “Sell” box? You need to set time-bound goals of when and how you’ll sit down at the computer to sell the stuff in the box, or set a date for your yard sale.
The bottom line: At the end of your decluttering session, deal with these boxes. Under no circumstances should you allow them to become your new clutter centers. Nope, nope, nope!
3. Practice the “touch it once” principle
Make a rule for yourself as you go about the decluttering process: Only touch something once. Don’t move clutter from one place to another. When you pick something up, make a decision about it.
Don’t put it down somewhere else. Immediately take the item to the appropriate box (or bag). Keep it, gift it, sell it, donate it, or trash it.
Incidentally, the “touch it once” principle applies to intangible things, too. For example, if you’re constantly ruminating over your clutter, you’re touching the issue more than once. Constantly re-evaluating and reconsidering a task is a fruitless venture.
4. Set SMART goals
When setting goals for decluttering your home, remember to set SMART goals. S-M-A-R-T is an acronym for the following words:
Rather than setting goals that are big general goals like “declutter my bedroom,” set clusters of more specific goals. Some examples include:
- Donate clothing items that are too small or outdated
- Clear the floor of the closet
- Clean underneath the bed
- Re-shelf books on bedside tables
- Throw away all socks without mates
- Put a small dirty clothes hamper near the bed (to help you stop tossing dirty clothes on the floor)
Goals must be measurable. For example, to keep going with the bedroom example, be specific about how many items you want to donate.
Similarly, if you’re decluttering your kitchen, an example of a measurable goal would be to choose a specific number of plastic food storage containers to keep, donating the rest.
Here are some examples of measurable goals.
- Donate 20 clothing items
- Organize five drawers
- In the kitchen, choose 15 storage bowls to keep
- Choose 24 books to keep and donate the rest
You’ll find that the act of doing something often leads you to keep going with your progress.
We’re innately industrious creatures. When we start projects, most of us get excited about getting things done. That can lead us to set goals without stopping to determine if they’re achievable.
For example, if your goal is to organize your closet, does your plan include adding additional closet hardware? If so, do you have the tools and skills to complete this task?
If not, one of the steps to completing your goal may include watching a YouTube how-to video or enlisting the help of someone who can teach you.
Similarly, do you have the money for extra hardware? If not, you’ll need to adjust your goal to incorporate solutions that use items you already have around the house.
Additionally, do you have physical limitations that will keep your goal from being achievable? Do you need to pull in additional resources and people to get the goal accomplished?
Adjust your goals as needed to ensure they’re achievable.
When setting goals, make sure the goals are relevant to your current needs. Do your goals make sense in the broader scheme of your life?
For instance, if your kitchen is so cluttered you can’t prepare a meal, spending a weekend tackling your bedroom closet may not be your top priority.
Similarly, if you’re frazzled every weekday morning because you’re having to dig through a jungle in your closet, organizing your closet should be your priority.
In other words, which goals make sense for your most immediate needs and issues? Setting goals to address that will clear up some room and headspace (and time!) for tackling your other projects.
When setting goals, don’t leave the timeframe for completion open-ended. Most people work well when they have a specific time-bound goal.
Here are some examples of setting goals that are time-bound and fall into line with goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant.
- Organize 1 drawer by 9:00 a.m.
- Pull from closet all outdated clothing items by dinnertime
- Take sack of items to donate to Goodwill tomorrow morning
- Spend two hours every Saturday morning for four weeks going through boxes in the garage
Be sure your deadlines are realistic. If you create unrealistic timeframes to complete goals, you set yourself up for failure.
5. It must end.
When setting goals, make sure you follow the “time-bound” principle. Your goals should have an end. Open-ended goals are the devil, and they’ll rob you of your sense of accomplishment.
Set your goals in such a way that you complete the individual sub-tasks by the end of the day (or hour, weekend, week, or whenever).
Remember, It’s a Process
All of this said, don’t beat yourself up if you’re living in a cluttered space. We’ve all been there. Some of us are still there with you.
Setting goals is a great start to living a joy-filled clutter-free life. However, life happens constantly. Clutter happens right along with it. It’s all a part of what makes life fun. Decluttering is an ongoing process. The important thing is that you’re on the right path to clutter-free joy now.
Do you have decluttering tips? Feel free to share!