Perhaps the most difficult part of any daunting task is actually taking that first step. Getting started. What is the old axiom? "A journey of a thousand miles starts with clearing out your junk drawer?"
Something like that.
I think you know what I'm getting at. Decluttering is a bit-by-bit process. It isn't something you decide to do because you have a Saturday afternoon free. Even if you were able to do it "crash diet" style, just like the person who drinks a gallon of spinach-water and eats a handful of almonds a day for a week straight, it'll all come back to you.
Decluttering is a deliberate change, something that requires dedication. But you still have to begin somewhere. Look no further. Below are six excellent jumping off points to begin your clutter-less lives.
1. The old 10-10-10 rule.
Get three bags or boxes and choose 10 items to throw away, 10 items to donate, and 10 items to return to where they belong. Wash rinse repeat.
2. Try the popular hanger trick.
This isn't something that will lead to a cleaner closet right away, but it's invaluable for discovering what items you really don't need. Turn all your hangers so that they face the wrong way. After you wear/use an item, turn it back around. After a certain amount of time, you'll easily find out what you do and don't wear.
3. Time yourself.
If you are particularly cluttered, so much so that you feel overwhelmed at the idea of tackling it all, dedicate 10 minutes per day. Or whatever time you can give. Set a timer and work for those 10 minutes and stop. Have your spouse or kids help as well. You'll be amazed at how much clutter you'll have gone through after only a few days.
4. Start with visible spaces, like table tops and counters.
This one is tricky. There is always a risk that you'll end up making your seriously cluttered areas (like drawers, closets, or basements) worse by trying to just clear flat surfaces. "Starting with visible places" does not mean shoving it all in a drawer or out of sight. You still have to get rid of it or sort through it. The benefit of this method, though, is how quickly you'll begin to feel better and notice results. It should help you stay motivated. If you start in a rarely used space and your kitchen counter is too messy to even prepare food on, you're more likely to despair and call it quits.
5. Untangle your tangles.
Set yourself up for a successful decluttering process by tackling things like cords and wires right off the bat. A messy tangle can make it look as if all your efforts to clean and organize aren't helping as much as you'd hoped.
6. Put it away. Don't put it down.
That's right, this tip is different than 1-5. But it may be the most important. Changing your routines, starting right now, is the only way to guarantee long-term success. Start decluttering, not with the pile of junk in the drawer or closet, but with whatever you are holding in your hand. That coat you take off when you get home? Hang it up. That pile of mail? Go through it. Address what needs to be addressed and toss what needs to be tossed. You'll never get your home organized and clean if whatever bad habits that caused your cluttered lifestyle aren't rectified.