The 5-Step Guide to Decluttering Any Room

I know we all have that one room (or, ahem, multiple rooms), that seriously bug us. It’s probably full of clutter, random stuff we don’t know what to do with, piles of junk we do know what to do with but we just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I know, I’ve been there. I’m there right now, actually. For literally years, that has been my office. Years.

I tried to say it wasn’t my fault the office is like that. My husband and I share the room after all. And he has contributed a lot to the hurricane of horrors going on in here…but if you look closely, a huge chunk of it is either mine or kid-related (which means it’s mine to deal with, you know what I mean, fellow moms!) My little desk corner is clean and organized, but pan the camera out and it’s a travesty of epic proportions.

The 5-Step Guide to Decluttering Any Room

So how do you approach a room like that? It’s so easy to stand in the doorway feeling overwhelmed, and then just give up and go watch Netflix instead. But today I want to share with you five simple steps to declutter any room, whether it’s just a little messy or seriously crazy chaotic.

  1. Determine your vision and make a plan. Before you do anything else at all, take a few minutes to visualize what you want the room to look like when you’re finished. Write it down, and be specific. Here is my vision for my office — I want a clear desk with only my computer and a spot for my coffee cup. I want my craft supplies housed on just this bookshelf, no overflow on the table. I want that chair cleared off with a side table for a book so I can read there. I want my Doctor Who collection on this shelf. I want the work table completely clear so the kids can do crafts there while I work at my desk. Goals such as “I want the room clutter-free” or “I want this clean” are just too vague. You need a plan, a map of where you’re going, so you can stay focused while you’re up to your elbows in outgrown kid clothes and 10-year-old scrapbook paper.
  2. Gather a few tools. You only really need three things to get started. Trash bags for garbage, a large box for collecting discards, and a laundry basket for items that don’t belong in the room that need to be taken back to where they should be.
  3. Sort into categories. Quickly go through the room and sort items into like piles. Clothes in one pile, books in another, craft supplies, papers, CDs, toys, and whatever other categories fit the room you’re working on. Don’t try to make decisions yet — just gather all the items in each category together so you can see what you have. If items don’t belong in the room, chuck them in the laundry basket so they can be taken back to their proper locations. Garbage needs to go into trash bags, pronto.
  4. Discard the excess. Now that items are in categories, it’s time to get to the actual business of decluttering. One category at a time, go through each item in the pile and ask yourself “Do I use this? Do I need this? Does it bring me joy?” If you can’t answer a solid yes to any of those questions, it’s got to go. Don’t hold on to things out of guilt, because they were gifts, because they were expensive, or because you might need them some day. If you can’t answer an enthusiastic yes to those questions, it must go.
  5. Give every item a home. Don’t try to put things away until you’re done discarding. You can’t know how to organize your books if you don’t know how many books you’re keeping, right? As you finish each category, assign each item a home of its own. If an item has a specific spot where it goes when not in use, then there is no question when it’s time to clean up where to put it. It has a home, that’s where you put it. Without a home, the item is destined to be on the craft table you wanted to keep clear for your kids, or on the kitchen table where your family should be eating dinner together, or heaven forbid, back in a pile on the floor. Set yourself up for continued success by giving each item a place for it to belong.

In the comments, tell me: what room are you going to declutter this week? Share your befores, afters, even in-progresses on Instagram or Twitter to @modernsimplicty using the hashtag #5stepdeclutter

My 7 Favorite Moments in Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love (Book Review)

My 7 Favorite Moments in For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (a book review)

Confession: I adore Jen Hatmaker. I wish I lived in Austin so I could run to her house and beg to be in her supper club because we would soooo be BFFs. So obviously I was excited when her new book, For the Love, was finally released. I bought the hardback immediately, but couldn’t turn down the opportunity to grab the Kindle version from BookLook Bloggers to review. If you haven’t read the book, please run to Amazon right now and grab it, because seriously, it’s that awesome. Let’s take a look at my seven favorite moments from For the Love.

  1. In the book’s first essay, Worst Beam Ever, Jen discusses how the entire notion of balancing work and family is flawed, and that we need to learn to say no to things not in our skill set and go forward living our own lives and doing our own things in the season we find ourselves right now. I was nodding in agreement the whole way through, but she really convicted me with this tidbit right at the end: “But maybe…if we stop fearing a no will end the world, if we pare our lives down to what is beautiful, essential, life-giving, if we refuse to guilt one another for different choices, and if we celebrate the decent accomplishments of Ordinary Good Hard Life, then we’ll discover there wasn’t a beam in the first place, that God’s kingdom never required a balancing act, and Jesus was in that foam fun pit all along.” Imagine that — what if we don’t have to “balance” work and family and fun and health? What if we just need to learn to let go of the activities and obligations that aren’t serving us in this season of our lives? How amazingly simple would that make life, to follow through with where our gifts lay and jettison or outsource the rest?
  2. In the essay Run Your Race, Jen discusses how we as women tend to downplay some of our finest gifts by thinking they’re throwaway qualities that don’t matter and may even hinder us in pursuing our goals. She mentions that she even felt for a long time that her humor was something to be minimized, and she considered it to be a liability as a pastor’s wife. Can you imagine Jen without her humor? I love her for her humor and her gift for lightening even the most serious discussions with some well-timed fun mixed in with the convicting heart-to-heart. Jen says this: “God created an entire package…Nothing is wasted: not a characteristic, preference, experience, tragedy, quirk, nothing. It is all you and it is all purposed and it can all be used for great and glorious good.” Of course, because God doesn’t make mistakes and isn’t wasteful. Why would we ever think we have to downplay our gifts to succeed? He gave us those gifts for a reason. We need to use them.
  3. In the essay Tell the Truth, Jen convicted me with an entire essay on a subject I’d been struggling with lately. I touched on it briefly in my post, What is Modern Simplicity? It’s that unsettling argument you have with yourself about how to present yourself in the best light while also being real and authentic with those you serve. It’s a tough battle to face, wanting to publicly be on top of your game while privately struggling with your own flaws. Jen had this to say, and I’ll be posting this one right on my office wall: “When I present a fabricated version of myself — the self who knows all, is ever certain, always steps strong — we all lose, because I cannot keep up with that lie and neither can you.” Has she been spying on me? Convicted. Then she quoted Scott Stratten, author of Unmarketing: “Don’t try to win over the haters, you’re not the jackass whisperer.”  I will be posting that one right on the computer monitor.
  4. Lest you think this is some big deep book (it is) completely serious and without humor (it’s so not), I need to spotlight Jen’s Thank You Notes. Every single one of Jen’s Thank You Notes tickled me to tears, but I have to give special mention to the notes to Daylight and Rearview Mirror, Netflix, Yoga Pants, Looming Book Deadline, and Texting. I won’t spoil you by giving away the details, but trust me, you don’t want to miss these sections.
  5. The essay on Jen’s Supper Club has made me see what I’ve been missing out on by being a hermit. I’m actually considering starting a supper club for the slim chance of duplicating her amazing group. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle with trying out some of the delicious-sounding recipes she included in the book. Because yum. I love how even in the middle of the recipe, she’s cheering me on, as if she know’s I’ll give up if the recipe sounds too hard (seriously, I think she has spies). I see a Beef Bourguignon and Chocolate Cake in my future.
  6. In On Women, Jen gives us a nice little quotable that I really want to paste on a scenic background image and plaster all over Facebook: “This really is your one wild and precious life. You matter so much. You are writing a good story for your children. Your community and your church needs you, your neighbors and family need you, God adores you and Jesus is obsessed with you.” That’s a message every woman needs to hear, daily.
  7. I may have to write my own version of the essay Dear Kids. I was bawling by the end of it. One of my favorite things about Jen is how she loves her kids — honestly, passionately but not necessarily reverently. They’re kids after all! They are our hearts outside our bodies, but they certainly don’t walk on water, and I love that Jen embraces that so fully with her family. It’s how I feel about my own boys, but it’s not always a sentiment shared by other moms publicly. Let them be little, let them make mistakes, but always be near enough to point them back in the right direction while loving on them with all your heart.

Have you read For the Love? Share your favorite moments in the comments below!


I review for BookLook Bloggers

I received a copy of this e-book for review purposes through BookLook Bloggers. This fair and honest review contains my own opinions and do not reflect the views of the author, publisher or any other third-party. I have received no other compensation for this review. This is disclosed in accordance with FTC guidelines.

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