Small-Steps Decluttering - Benefits - How to do it

Small-steps decluttering – The benefits of 20 minutes sessions – And how to organise them

Is your decluttering task too big? Overwhelming?

If we own a lot of stuff and if most or all areas of our home are cluttered with too many things, the ideal solution would be to conduct a massive decluttering project, clearing up our home completely, and at once.

The decision to do it all in one go can become the reason why we don’t start at all.

    • If we are in an extremely busy phase of our life we might just not have the time for a decluttering project that will take several days or even weeks to get completed.
    • It could also be that we feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the decluttering task – we don’t feel able to plan and organise the work, have no idea how and where to get started. Thus, we procrastinate and postpone the project-start again and again.
    • There might be other reasons why we don’t feel physically or mentally able to go through a complex energy- and effort-demanding project.
    • Or we don’t have enough space for a big decluttering project: If our home is very small or fully packed with stuff, we might not be able to arrange the free flat working areas necessary for the sorting and organising processes.

The solution could be to give up the idea to sort it all out in one go.

We can decide to commit ourselves to conduct a series of shorter decluttering sessions over a period of weeks or even months.

The benefits of a small-steps decluttering approach

    • The small-steps decluttering approach allows you to achieve fast and visible results.
    • It’s easy to integrate the decluttering sessions into your daily life because they are short and have a clearly defined duration.
    • Scheduling the sessions as appointments in your calendar helps you to take them seriously and to develop a regular decluttering routine.
    • Regular decluttering sessions have a similar effect as regular exercises: you practice your decluttering skills and build up ‘I-can-do-it’ confidence.
    • At the end of your decluttering journey your home is – Clutterfree and Organised

How to get organised for the decluttering sessions

    • Determine the duration of the daily decluttering session. (20 minutes? Or 30?)
    • Schedule the declutter sessions as important appointments with yourself in your calendar.
    • Create a list of the rooms/areas in your home you wish to declutter and organise. (See below for suggestions)
    • Decide in which room/area of your home to start the decluttering.

How to do the decluttering sessions

Get started

    • Go to the small area that’s your first session’s focus. (See below for suggestions)
    • Take photos of the cluttered area.
    • Switch the timer on (for the duration you’ve determined for your sessions).
    • Take everything out from the chosen area and distribute all items on a flat surface (the floor, a bed, a table).

Sort and declutter

    • Sort out what’s broken or no longer usable and put it in the rubbish bin.
    • Sort what’s left into categories of like items.  (If applicable. This might not make sense when you, for example, declutter the counter top in the kitchen. It is necessary, however, if you, for example, declutter the cleaning stuff under the kitchen sink, or the underwear drawer.)
    • Sort out unnecessary duplicates.  (Directly into the rubbish bin or donation box.)
    • Sort out what no longer serves you

This is the tough part. Take everything that’s left into your hands and ask yourself: ‘Does this really serve me? Do I need, use or love it?’

If you can’t answer with a clear ‘yes’ it might be time to say goodbye to that item. Let it go. Into the rubbish bin or donation box.

    • Sort out what belongs into another room. And get it there.


    • Clean the decluttered empty space.
    • Take everything you decided to keep and place it back where it belongs.

You might wish to organise what belongs together in suitable space-dividers, such as little boxes, containers, baskets.

    • Clean your working area, get the rubbish/donations out.
    • Take photos of the decluttered area.
    • Celebrate the completion of this decluttering session!

And look forward to/plan the next session.

Areas to declutter – Some suggestions

Every home is different, and every space has its own challenges. And we declutterers are all unique, we all have our special requirements and preferences and our personal ideas how our home should look like.

Only you can decide which areas in your place need some decluttering and in which order your wish to organise the work.

Walk through your home and create a list of all those areas you wish to declutter and organise.

Some ideas to get you started with your decluttering to-do-list:

Focus on the very personal stuff

You may decide to concentrate on the very personal areas in your home first. This will let you experience the benefits of your decluttering work immediately and personally.

Examples: the content of your briefcase/handbag; the top of your dresser; the drawer with your underwear; your email inbox; the make-up drawer; etc.

Focus on open areas

It’s a good idea to focus on open areas in the beginning because you’ll see very quickly positive results of your work. This will keep your motivation up.

Examples of open areas: the top of the dresser; the top of the kitchen counter; the dinner table; the window sills; the stuff in and around the shower and the bath tub; etc.

Focus on one room

As soon as the open areas are clear and clean you could choose one room to declutter, step-by-step, over the course of the next days.

Example – the kitchen: the fridge, the freezer, one or several drawers or boxes in the pantry, the cabinet under the sink; the pet supplies/toys, one or several drawers or cupboards with the pots and pans, the cutlery, the dishes, glasses, flatware, etc; the drawer with the herbs and spices; etc.

Focus on one category

It is also possible to work on one category or sub-category of belongings at a time.

Examples: the gardening tools/equipment/supplies; the medicine cabinet; the linen closet; the shoes; the boxes/bags with the holiday decorations; the photo albums and lose photos; the hobby/craft supplies; the sports equipment; the socks;  the T-shirts;  etc.

Have you got some ideas for your small-steps decluttering sessions?

In which area in your home are you going to start the decluttering work? 

Keep the session short and easy – and have fun! 


CLICK HERE to learn from an example decluttering project

I used the small-step-decluttering approach to clear up the drawer with my office supplies.

Published by

Margot Krekeler

Learn more about Margo, click 'About'.

4 thoughts on “Small-steps decluttering – The benefits of 20 minutes sessions – And how to organise them”

  1. I’ll give this a try!

    1. Margot Krekeler says:

      That’s fantastic, Rosemary.
      Get started! I wish you much declutter-success.
      Please, let me know how the small-steps approach works out for you.

  2. I feel overwhelmed by the decluttering process. I have so much from family estatez and i find that thEY ARE STILL their property

    1. Margot Krekeler says:

      Hi Fran,
      yes, that’s sound like being quite overwhelming!
      I am offering free declutter-coaching (one session via video plus tips and exercises via email) currently. If you are interested in a coaching session that might help you to get started, please send me an email:
      Take care, Margo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *