20 Dec 2023

Get your decluttering project started

5 minute read

Starting a decluttering project can feel like the last thing you want to do when your to-do list is already as long as your arm. Suddenly those other jobs you’ve been putting off become immensely appealing!

There are however lots of techniques that can help you get underway, such as:

  • scheduling time slots in your diary to prioritise your decluttering 
  • setting a deadline to give you focus and impetus
  • visualising the end of the task and how it might feel when you’ve conquered it
  • breaking down a bigger goal into smaller, more manageable bite size chunks. 

Another helpful approach can be to attach your decluttering activities to a pre-existing event or holiday, such as Christmas and birthdays. 

In this blog, APDO member Lynda Wylie shares her and other organiser’s ideas on ways to do this so you have a natural starting point for those projects you may have been putting off.

Special occasions

Birthdays - To help ease the pressure on your space and yourself at birthdays and other special occasions, schedule a date in your diary several weeks beforehand to review any areas likely to receive new gifts. This can be especially helpful in children's bedrooms.  Toys, books, cuddly toys, games and crafts can be good categories to focus on. Creating space before the event will reduce potential overwhelm later when it’s time to absorb the new presents into your space.

Gifting opportunities come throughout the year and these can be a helpful way to move on any presents you might not want to keep. Create a gift cupboard or basket as a go to ‘shop’ for when you need a gift. If this can be located close to your wrapping supplies, even better. Stick a post-it note on an item to regift so you remember who it came from and avoid embarrassing swaps. 

Food - If you prepare a food shop for a special occasion, take the opportunity to review what’s in your cupboards that might have been forgotten about or passed its use by date. Perhaps there are special flavoured items you didn’t fancy and it’s time to let them go. Moving on just a few items will create wiggle room when you need to fit in new buys. It’s also a good moment to clean the shelves as you go. And bonus - it will save you money by not buying duplicates. 

Find out when your local food bank runs and use that date to prompt you to review your cupboards for any (in date) extras you can pass on. 

Christmas - Putting up the Christmas tree is a great annual opportunity to review what’s stored in your home and whether it stays, lives somewhere else or needs to be moved on. 

Marie Bateson, a Professional Organiser with Cut the Clutter says, ‘I always do a thorough clean after taking down the Christmas tree and decorations. Because ornaments and trinkets are put away when the Christmas ones go up, I reassess what goes back out afterwards and what kitchen items didn't get used even though they are supposed to be for special occasions. A mini purge.’

It’s also a good time to repack your decorations and let go of anything you didn’t use this year or has become tired and broken. Organise by type of decoration or room and label your storage clearly to make it easy to find next year.

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Photographs - Creating an annual year book or photo album can be a lovely way of presenting and enjoying your photographs. Look out for deals from digital companies and seize the moment. This tradition helps you edit, declutter and organise your photo library regularly so it doesn’t become overwhelming - or forgotten. 


Activities - Kate Gallbally of Better Organised says, ‘I make a point of doing some decluttering and online selling in advance of school holidays. I work reduced hours and we use the Vinted/eBay funds to pay for holiday treats - a day at the farm park, a trip to the cinema and so on. I also use up shopping vouchers and reward points, for example, Tesco Clubcard partner rewards, ASDA cashpot and Top Cashback pot. Some of them have limited validity periods, so the holidays are a good prompt to remind me to use them!’

It’s also a great time to review and organise your seasonal things, such as suitcases, beachwear, ski gear, sun and bug spray and travel documents.

The Seasons

Clothing, linen and crockery - The change in seasons provides a natural opportunity to declutter both your outgoing and incoming wardrobe and bedding - even seasonal crockery. As you change over your seasonal items, pull out any clothes from your outgoing collection that you didn’t wear and recycle them appropriately.

From your incoming season, there may be items which no longer fit or suit you, or that you feel less fond of now some time has passed. Now is the time to not only reduce but also notice what’s missing from your wardrobe so you can add select pieces to create a wardrobe that’s right for you now. 

Carole Reed of Happy Sort says, ‘I usually have a clear out after the summer holidays. I also sort through the children's clothes at the change of each season as most things don't fit anymore now they are teenagers and growing inches in months!’

New School Term
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Clothing, supplies and routines - Once the kids are back at school it can be a fabulous time to reset both your physical and mental space. Stephanie Rough of The Organised Zone says, ‘having a back to school reset just after the kids have gone back is a perfect time to get straight and focus on the new season ahead.'

You could: 

  • Reset your children’s bedrooms, checking for clothing, toys and school supplies that are no longer appropriate; 
  • take stock of stationery supplies and reorganise so they’re easy to find; 
  • review your schedule and routines to help prepare what each day might look like and any adaptations you need to make now a new academic year has started. 

Whatever traditions you have or would like to create, the holidays can be a useful time to reflect on what might work for you and your household. This Christmas, we hope you enjoy creating calm and order for your home as you welcome a New Year of opportunity.

An APDO professional can provide company, ideas and energy to help get your decluttering project underway. Find your local organiser here.

Lynda Wylie founded Tidy Rooms in 2012 and continues to work alongside her clients to help them make decisions about their things. She loves her job and the amazing people she meets. Lynda is also an APDO trainer and lives in Surrey with her family and Bonnie the cat.