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If you had a choice between getting slow or fast results, which would you choose? Hands down, most people want to see quick results, and decluttering is no exception. But you might be wondering how to declutter fast when there are mountains of clutter all around you, and life is already busy and overwhelming – is it even possible?
Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to declutter your home that are fast, low-effort, and stress-free! Read on to find out all about them, and at the end of this post is a video where I show you how I used them in my own home.
Reasons to Declutter Fast
But why would people want to declutter fast? Slowing down has its time and place, but there are plenty of good reasons people might want or need to declutter quickly.
Why Declutter Fast?
- Guests are coming over. Inviting guests to your home or hosting parties should be a fun and enjoyable experience. You should be able to focus on having a good time and not worrying whether or not people are judging you about the state of your household. Even if they’re too polite to say so, you might still have that fear in the back of your mind, and clearing the clutter can help you feel more confident and relaxed.
- You’re moving. The more stuff you have to move to your new home, the more time, energy, and money you will need to spend on sorting, packing, shipping, and unpacking. Less clutter means more freedom, lower stress, and more money saved on moving costs.
- You have a personal or family crisis. Sadly, there are times when you or your family might need to declutter quickly because of a crisis. This can include divorce, debt, the loss of a family member, natural disasters, and more. These situations often require fast action, so it helps to be able to get rid of stuff quickly.
- To improve your health. Time and time again, studies have proven that excess clutter can result in physical and mental side effects, from increased anxiety to weight gain. If you feel that too much stuff is impacting your physical or mental health, it might be time to prioritize clearing the clutter.
How to Declutter Fast?
How fast you declutter can depend on many factors, such as how much stuff you own, how much time you have to devote to decluttering, the size of your house, how many people live with you, and more.
After almost seven years of minimalism, I can declutter our home in a single day, but for most people, that’s a stretch.
That’s because most of us have spent years or even decades piling up the clutter.
I believe in setting healthy and realistic expectations, so while it might not be possible for you to declutter your home in one day RIGHT NOW, what I can promise is that these tips can speed up the decluttering process by:
- or even 80%!
Are you ready? Let’s start decluttering!
1. Stop the inflow of clutter
The first step to decluttering faster is to stop the inflow of clutter into your home. This is particularly important for people who engage in impulse spending or have a shopping addiction.
It’s like trying to drain a pool that has a fire hose gushing into it!
You’ll see faster results if you reduce the new stuff you buy and bring into your home – or eliminate it altogether! You can put yourself on a budget or even do a no-spend challenge. Whatever it takes to stop you from bringing more stuff home!
2. Do a trash sweep
This is known as “trash bag therapy” for a good reason. It declutters your home quickly and feels therapeutic, all at the same time!
The idea is to quickly go through your entire house with a garbage bag and fill it up with trash – it’s very low-pressure! This includes things like old receipts, empty Amazon boxes, clothes that don’t fit, old cosmetics, expired food, broken toys, etc.
Remember, trash is trash, and there’s no need to keep hanging on to literal garbage!
3. Remove distractions
If you’re short on time, the last thing you want to do when you’re purging is to get distracted. That might mean putting your phone on silent, turning off the TV, or setting the kids up with a game so that you can fully focus your attention on decluttering.
If you only have 15 minutes to declutter, don’t get sidetracked into cleaning up or organizing, and concentrate on clearing the clutter quickly.
Make sure to stay laser-focused on the task at hand!
4. Donate more
If you want to declutter fast, choose donation over other methods, such as selling or giving away clutter in Buy Nothing groups.
While these are excellent ways to declutter sustainably, they are much more time-consuming since you need to take pictures, write descriptions, pack and ship them, message potential buyers, and more.
To donate unwanted stuff, you just need to pack it up and drop it off at the thrift store or charity of your choice, so this can really help you get rid of clutter fast.
5. Use the 80/20 Rule
Also known as The Pareto Principle, this phenomenon observes that 80% of results come from 20% of efforts, and this rule applies to so many areas of life.
It translates to things like 20% of your habits contribute to 80% of your productivity and that most people wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time. So how can you apply this rule to help you declutter faster?
One method might be to tackle the high-impact areas in your home, such as clearing visual clutter off flat surfaces like kitchen countertops, bookshelves, or dining room tables.
Also, if you know that statistically that you’re only using 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time, it might encourage you to tackle that massive wardrobe purge since 80% of your clothes are just wasting your valuable time and space.
6. Be ruthless
To declutter faster, you need to be ruthless and more decisive about what to keep versus what to get rid of. How many times have you told yourself that you might need that thing in the future and you’d keep it, “just in case,” only to have it sit around, unused, for yet another year?
Here’s a tip: if you have to ask yourself if you want to keep something, then you probably should let it go! As a rule of thumb, if it’s not a clear yes, then it’s a no.
Think about it; why would you want to create a life full of “so-so” stuff when you could be filling your life with things that make you go “YES!” (If you appreciate this rule, here is a list of the top 20 declutter rules straight from the experts to help you be more ruthless in your decluttering.)
7. Set a timer
This is one of my favorite decluttering tips! If you have a set amount of time, you will declutter faster because you know you need to move on to the next task.
It’s like the adage Parkinson’s Law, which states, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Basically, the idea is that if you give yourself a long time, your duties expand to fill that time; give yourself a shorter window to get it done, and you’ll find a way!
A lot of people have a limiting belief that they need a lot of time to declutter when, in reality, you can get a lot accomplished in 15-30 minutes here and there.
8. Create drop zones for clutter
A declutter drop zone is a designated place where you can quickly and easily drop clutter off when you find it lying around but don’t have time to deal with it at that moment.
To avoid extra mess, it’s often best to keep these drop zones either out of sight, such as inside a closet or drawer, or contained in a basket or bin (preferably with a lid).
I have a drop zone for unwanted clothes that I keep a bag in my wardrobe and then one in my office as well, which I call my “clutter bucket.”
You can also teach your family members how to drop clutter off themselves. I have found this makes the decluttering process less intimidating for kids afraid to let go; they know it’s still there, in the basket, if they really want to get it back.
(Of course, 90% of the time, they don’t because it’s stuff like broken lunch boxes or pants with holes in the knees.)
9. Use a re-home box
Most people know to have boxes as they declutter for donations, trash, or to sell online, but what about a re-home box?
Re-home boxes are handy when you find items that need to be put back in their proper place. Kids toys, clothing, and craft supplies are common offenders in our home!
Instead of rushing back and forth to put each sock or toy back in place as you go, put them in a single basket instead. When you are done with decluttering, it makes it easy to pick up the basket and do a quick walk-through, returning the items to their rightful space in your home.
10. Make it fun
When you dread something and view it as a chore, you’re less likely to want to do it. Likewise, if you see something as fun, you’re going to feel more optimistic about the process, which will help you stay motivated to keep doing it in the future!
Fun ideas to declutter faster:
- play a decluttering game
- participate in a 30-day challenge
- listen to an upbeat music playlist
- turn on your favorite podcast or YouTuber
- declutter with a friend or family member
- join a supportive community
11. Ask for help
There is no shame in admitting when you need help, and decluttering is one of those times! If you have trouble staying motivated on your own or don’t know where to start, ask for help from a friend, family member, or professional organizer.
This is particularly useful for older people, people with chronic illnesses, or those with mobility issues. The best thing to do might be to search for supportive services at local churches, charity groups, and community centers (use your zip code when you run a search).
Even if they can’t provide 1:1 help, they might be able to pick up the clutter for you when you’re ready to get rid of it but have trouble leaving home.
12. Get rid of clutter fast
This is a roadblock for certain people; they have no trouble decluttering their homes, but they can’t seem to muster up the willpower to get that clutter out the door for good.
The longer you let your clutter sit around in bags and boxes in your entryway or the trunk of your car, the more likely you will be to re-clutter – that is to say, bring the clutter back into your home!
The best way to get rid of clutter fast is to send it out the door right after you’re done decluttering that space. Know how you will get rid of stuff and send it on its way ASAP, so it won’t weigh on your mind and make you feel guilty every time you look at it.
13. Declutter duplicates
When you own multiples of the same thing, ask yourself, “Could I survive with one of these?” Most people don’t need 100 pairs of high heels or 25 sets of black leggings when only one or a few would suffice.
Run through some scenarios in your head and ask yourself which one of the similar items you would reach for if given a choice. Then, keep that one and discard the rest!
14. The Pavlov Effect
Think like Pavlov, who trained dogs to drool at the sound of a bell. The bell elicited a drooling response because the dogs were conditioned to know that food was coming when it chimed.
Humans aren’t dogs, but this surprising conditioning technique also works on us!
One way to accomplish this is with music. I have created a Spotify playlist that I use ONLY when I want to declutter. I play it every time I am decluttering and turn it off when I am done.
But let’s say I need to declutter that day but have low motivation and don’t feel like it. All I have to do is turn on that upbeat playlist, and my mind immediately snaps into “declutter mode.”
Instead of drooling at the sound of a bell, I have trained myself to declutter when I hear the right tune! Go on – try it for yourself. 🙂
You could also put on a special hat or outfit when it’s time to declutter or pop chewing gum into your mouth. The goal is to pair a stimulus with a response, so get creative and feel free to personalize your methods.
15. Grow through your obstacles
The quote from John C. Maxwell is apropos here: “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
Clearing clutter from your home is a significant behavior shift and life change, and there will be times when decluttering feels too overwhelming, and you’re tempted to give up. Sure, you could see the tough times as obstacles, but maybe a better mindset would be to look at them as opportunities instead.
When you notice yourself getting stuck or having trouble getting started, ask yourself, “What is the true meaning behind what I am feeling?” Pause for a moment of self-reflection and see what arises inside your heart and mind.
Letting go of sentimental clutter was hard for me due to my painful past of losses and grief; for you, it might be dealing with financial guilt or fear of regret. All of these barriers can teach you something important about yourself.
Raising awareness of your roadblocks is the first step to breaking through them!
16. Set small goals
One of the best decluttering tips I can give you is to set small goals. Trying to declutter your entire house in one day is overwhelming and unrealistic.
When you break down your decluttering goals into manageable chunks, you’ll be surprised at how much easier (and faster) it is to declutter your home. Setting small and achievable tasks is an excellent way to boost your motivation and keep up the decluttering momentum.
17. Join a community
If you need some decluttering inspiration or want to chat with like-minded people, there are plenty of decluttering communities out there to help you declutter faster, including on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and more.
18. Stop comparing
But wait – if you want to join a community, you need to avoid the comparison trap!
One of the biggest decluttering mistakes you can make is comparing your decluttering journey to someone else’s. It’s not fair to yourself to compare your starting point to someone else who is five years deep into the decluttering process or has a fully decluttered home.
Everyone declutters at their own pace, so it’s essential to focus on your journey and not compare yourself to others in a negative light.
19. Make it a habit
Decluttering should become a habit if you want to see long-term results. Just like brushing your teeth or making your bed, decluttering should become something you do without fail.
If clutter-free living doesn’t come naturally to you, this habit might take a bit of time to implement, but it’s so worth it. After a while, habits like this will become second nature to you, as easy as breathing.
20. Stay inspired
The decluttering journey can be long and arduous, so staying motivated is essential. If you’re ever feeling stuck or like you can’t declutter anymore, remember why you started this journey in the first place.
Think about how good it will feel when your home is decluttered and how much happier and freer you’ll be when all that clutter is gone.
You could keep a journal about your decluttering journey, take before and after pictures, save quotes that empower you to declutter, or read the most popular and helpful decluttering books from the pros and experts.
Whatever keeps you inspired and motivated towards reaching towards your big goals!
watch this video on fast decluttering
Here is the video where I demonstrate my top ten favorite tips to drastically declutter your stuff, but in my own home! Enjoy.
Final thoughts about decluttering fast
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to decluttering fast, but these tips should help you get started.
The most important thing is to ACTUALLY start and keep going until you reach your goals! Remember why you’re doing this, and declutter with joy.