When your whole house is cluttered, sometimes “Where should I start” is the hardest question to answer.
As with anything, there are a couple different ways to approach this so choose the method that works best for you.
If you’ve heard of Dave Ramsey, you’re probably familiar with his debt snowball.
Dave recommends paying your debts off in order of smallest to largest. He says paying off the smallest debts first helps your momentum to grow and keeps you motivated to continue until everything’s paid off.
The declutter snowball uses the same idea. It’s starting with the smallest tasks to gain momentum and continuing until you’re working on your largest task.
Personally, I like this technique for starting out. I think choosing a couple small tasks that will give you immediate results is a great way to begin, but it may not be feasible to continue through your entire house in this way. The small tasks at the beginning will be easy, but eventually you’ll be left with only your large tasks, which may leave you feeling overwhelmed. Instead, you may want to try…
The Alternating Schedule
The alternating schedule is what I described in Tuesday’s post. You’ll make a list of your various rooms or tasks and label them as small, medium, or large. From there, you’ll create a schedule that alternates between small and large tasks.
This technique will ensure that you’re always making progress while giving you some breaks between the large, overwhelming jobs.
If you’d rather see huge results right away, you can…
Eat that frog
Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
In other words, if we start with our hardest, least enjoyable tasks, everything will get easier after that.
Personally, I like this idea for our individual days, but using this method of decluttering my house would probably leave me feeling completely overwhelmed. Then again, I may feel like I can conquer any other room’s clutter if I started with my overwhelming storage rooms since they are, by far, the worst in my home.
How to choose?
The best way to choose is whatever works for you. Just because you start with one technique doesn’t mean you can’t switch to another if need be.
If you like the eat the frog approach but end up feeling like it’s a little too much, you could do an eat the frog-alternating schedule hybrid by starting with a large task and switching to small tasks when you need a break.
These are some of the questions I asked myself when figuring out my own schedule:
- What spaces in my home are draining my energy the most?
- What spaces do I find myself apologizing for most?
- Which spaces make me feel the most embarrassed?
- What would have the most positive impact on my life if it was clean and organized?
- Which spaces make me feel the most stressed?
Ultimately, I decided to focus on our main living areas and those that people first see when coming into our home first. Our dining room redo (which you can see here and here) has been “in the works” for over a year now. It’s visible from our entryway and family room so every time I see it (multiple times a day!) I feel dragged down by this neverending project. I’m always apologizing and trying to explain away why the room is in total disarray. Since I’m anxious to no longer feel this way, I made it my first large project to tackle.
I gradually went through my list and scheduled things based on what needed the most attention and would make the biggest difference to my everyday life. This is why my storage areas and garage are at the very bottom of my list. People rarely see them, and they don’t impact my life much at all. I do look forward to having them organized eventually, but I know an organized family room, kitchen, and office would make me feel a lot better and my day to day life easier.
Which approach do you think you’ll use? Which rooms will make it to the top (or fall to the bottom) or your list?
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