If you want to own less and desire to achieve that goal quickly, you’ll need to know how to declutter your home fast.
I can definitely relate to the need to declutter your home fast. We’ve downsized twice in the last few years. During the second downsize, I altered my approach.
Enter Reverse Decluttering.
What is Reverse Decluttering?
Typically, when one declutters, they start by going through their things and considering what they should get rid of.
Instead, try this in the reverse. By that I mean, change the order.
Start by focusing on what you want to KEEP – not what to get rid of.
Focus on what’s essential. Essential could be an absolute necessity or an all-time favorite. Something you use daily or, if not daily, then regularly and often.
To focus on the essential, ask yourself questions like:
- What are the things of utmost importance that you would want to grab in the event of an evacuation?
- If you’re setting up your home from scratch, what are the essential items you’d need?
- In the event of a fire or natural disaster, what are the sentimental items that immediately come to mind that you’d miss the most?
- On that note, what would you need to start all over in life if everything was destroyed in a fire today? (Start there – all the rest is ancillary.)
If we own a lot more than we truly need (a first world problem, of course), then this exercise is meant to help us work backwards to consider the bare minimum we need to get by. Hopefully this can help us to trim the excess and own enough.
Why You Should Use Reverse Decluttering
Why should you use reverse decluttering, you say? Well, let’s consider some other decluttering approaches.
The Minimalists recommend having what they call a packing party. It’s where you pack up ALL of your belongings and bring things out of boxes as you need them. Then, the unused items remaining in the boxes after 3 months are the items you can donate or give away. This is their approach to figuring out what you truly need and use. While this may work for some people, it might not be the best approach depending on your current responsibilities and season in life.
Marie Kondo’s Konmari method recommends that people declutter by category, putting everything they own from one category into a big pile and tackling it from there. If you have young children, this would be an especially challenging approach for obvious reasons.
Consider your current season of life, your main motivation for decluttering, and pick a decluttering approach that will work best for you. Because it’s not a one-size-fits-all.
But, if you’ve tried a few decluttering methods and feel like they haven’t worked, then I’d like to recommend working backwards with reverse decluttering.
How to Declutter Your Home Fast with Reverse Decluttering
You can utilize reverse decluttering in 2 ways…
- Pull out anything that is your favorite (it doesn’t have to spark joy, but it should be an item you love, reach for, use, or wear often).
- Then, pull out the things that are necessary for daily life (an example would be a can opener – doesn’t spark joy, maybe not a favorite, but necessary for daily life).
- There are all the things that you should keep.
- Pull everything out of the space you’re decluttering or simplifying.
- Choose the items that are your favorites and/or necessary for daily life.
- Put only those items back in the space.
- Those are all the things that you should keep.
Anything that remains after applying these 2 methods can either be trashed, donated, sold, or given away.
If you want to know how to declutter your home fast, this is an effective way.
How to Apply Reverse Decluttering
Now that we’ve established the 2 methods you can use, let’s apply this to some areas of the home.
To apply reverse decluttering in your closet, you would…
- Pulling everything out of your closet that is your favorite. OR pull everything out of the closet and only put back the favorites. That would be the 20% of stuff you wear 80% of the time.
- Everything that remains is stuff you don’t have to keep (unless you want to or have the space for it). There will be items that aren’t worn 20% of the time like swimsuits or perhaps a suit. But this method should help you to identify amongst a sea of clothes which ones to keep.
- Do not keep the maybes or ANYTHING you are on the fence about. If you MUST keep some items you’re not sure about, put them in a box (limit the size or amount) and date the outside of the box. Put a reminder in your phone for 3 months from now. If you haven’t needed anything that’s in the box within those three months, then it’s okay to donate it.
NOTE: These parameters shouldn’t be applied to maternity, postpartum, or nursing clothes. If you’re in the stage of having babies, it’s beneficial to keep 1 bin of such clothing.
To apply reverse decluttering in the kitchen, the heart of the home, work backwards. How many coffee mugs, appliances, dishes, and silverware would you need if you were starting your home from scratch?
If you own several sets of dishes for various occasions, perhaps you only keep the favorite set for entertaining. Maybe you decide that you only want to keep as many everyday dishes as will fit into your dishwasher. This way, you can run the dishwasher once to get all the dishes clean.
To apply reverse decluttering to sentimental items, DO NOT LOOK at the sentimental stuff. Many people get stuck looking at the bins of sentimental stuff and thinking, “what on earth do I get rid of?” Instead, close your eyes and ask yourself “if my house burned down today, what are the items that I can name off the top of my head that I will wish I had?”
Those few sentimental items that you can name off the top of your head are the ones that TRULY matter to you. The others most likely have memories attached and it’s the memory that you love, not the item. You have permission to let it go. The memory is not in the item. Take a picture and move on with life.
How to Declutter Your Home Fast by Addressing the “What ifs”
At this point you may be thinking, “Okay, I understand that keeping only the favorites helps me weed through the clutter, but how do I pare down the useful items?”
For many people, the “what if I need this someday” question keeps them stuck in the decluttering process.
Pare down the useful items by creating limits. Some limits are already created for us.
The space we live in is one big container that serves as a limit on how much we can keep. A family of 5 living in a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom home has a smaller container than a family of 5 living in a 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom home. We may not be able to change our living space, but we can change what we bring into our living space and what we choose to keep in it.
Other limits must be created by us.
When setting limits, our current season of life is a good indicator. If someone wears a suit and tie to work every day, their limit for suits they own might be no less than 5 if they work a 5-day workweek. For another person, having no less than 5 suits would be absurd. Their limit may be to own no more than 2 suits since they wear them sparingly.
The problem is posed when seasons of life change and we can’t part with our stuff. This could be baby gear, old hobbies, or anything that served you well in a past season of life that is no longer needed.
What if scenarios could be thought of for almost EVERYTHING.
If it’s useful, but you’re not using it, then how useful is it?
Donate or give it away to someone who WILL use it. Join a Buy Nothing Facebook group and offer it for free. Hold a “Free Yard Sale.” Yes, it’s an oxymoron but it can be an effective way to give away unwanted items. Donating and giving away is always the faster route over selling.
We don’t know the future, so we can’t possibly know if indeed we WILL actually use that item one day if we keep it “just-in-case” based upon its usefulness.
We’ll either forget we have it or an entirely different item that we don’t own would be more appropriate for whatever scenario does happen.
Part of life in general is accepting and embracing limitations.
In decluttering, it’s no different. If you want to know how to declutter your home fast, it’s by focusing on what’s essential and setting limits.
Want to read more about Reverse Decluttering?
Check out this guest blog post that I wrote on the blog, The Simplicity Habit: