I confess I have a problem. I don’t always like to read directions. Sometimes it’s because I think I already know how to do it, or I think I’ll figure it out as I go, or I’m just not in the mood to worry about the details.
And yes, this little problem of mine, really gets in my way. Like, when I’m trying a new recipe and I just read the ingredients instead of the directions … sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. (Why do I never seem to learn?!)
This is really something I’m working on getting better at. More often now, I will force myself to read the directions. I still don’t like to. Maybe we can call it a personality quirk? That sounds nicer like a much nicer way of saying I have a problem, lol.
Now, what does this have to do with decluttering?
In my blog post How to Declutter, I walk through the steps and give directions for decluttering a space. Here’s a very summarized version of the decluttering steps (you can read the original post about these steps to read the hows and why of each thing):
- Step #1: Gather the supplies: a donate box, a relocate basket, and garbage/recycling bag.
- Step #2: Clear a surface to declutter on.
- Step #3: Declutter from the inside out (start inside of closets and drawers and finish with surfaces).
- Step #4: Pull everything out, one area at a time.
- Step #5: Be ruthless with your decisions.
- Repeat Steps #4-5 until the entire area is decluttered.
- Step #6: Take out the trash & recycling.
- Step #7: Put away the relocate items.
- Step #8: Donate as soon as possible. Give yourself a deadline for items you’re selling.
Let’s look closer at Step #4
It’s been my observation watching people’s decluttering progress in our Facebook group, many people are skipping a pretty big step in decluttering.
Instead of pulling everything out at step #4, they’ll just kind of root around in the area and pull out some items to donate or throw away. I think this is okay every once in a while when you’re just too exhausted but you want to do something to declutter an area.
But … You’ll be so much more successful if you EMPTY OUT THE AREA!!!!!!
This means, you literally pull every single thing out of the drawer, cabinet, shelf, closet rack, or surface. Every single item. And then you only put back what actually goes inside.
If you do it this way, you’ll get rid of soooooo muuuuuuch mooooooore.
Illustrating with My Junk Drawer
I wanted to find a way to illustrate this to you, so I chose a recent 5 minute-project I did last month. My “junk drawer” really needed a fresh start, so I went to declutter it. I started by emptying out the drawer.
Do you clean while you declutter? You may have heard me say don’t clean while you declutter … but I mean, don’t deep clean/ spring clean at the same time you declutter because it is overwhelming. But lightly dusting a shelf or vacuuming out a drawer that has a bunch of debris? That sometimes makes sense and I think you should always feel free to do what makes sense.
Just don’t start to overwhelm yourself with lots of extra expectations!
Look at this beautifully empty drawer. There is something about seeing the glorious empty-ness that makes you want to put less back in.
I also had new containers to organize the drawer, which is officially part of decluttering, but it definitely wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t empty it out. There is a reason that decluttering is the most important step of organizing!
This drawer took less than 10 minutes (I timed it). Those 10 minutes included putting things away and taking pictures.
Empty it out!
Emptying a space out may seem like an extra step or annoying, but you will find things you wouldn’t otherwise find. You will get rid of more stuff and be more successful at decluttering if you take the time to empty the space!
The declutter challenge is full of lots of little things just like the junk drawer. The goal of the challenge is to break decluttering your entire home into tiny little junk-drawer type projects.
If you’re as bad as me about reading all the instructions, hopefully I’ve at least helped you with the fourth step. Maybe you just read the picture headings, but that’s enough to help, lol. (I won’t judge, I have my own “quirks.” 😂)
Now go ahead and empty the space out when you declutter!