By Leo Babauta

Today we actually start decluttering!

Now that you’ve picked a spot to start with … let’s dive into the declutter method. Watch the video above, or follow the steps below.

First, though, get some boxes or bags for sorting things.

  1. Clear the whole space. Take everything off the shelf, out of the drawer, off the countertop, etc. You can pile them to the side. If you don’t finish the rest of the steps today, perhaps put everything in a box to deal with tomorrow.
  2. Pick one item. Think of the pile of things you’ve set aside as a queue that can’t be jumped. Meaning, the first item you pull off the top must be dealt with first, and can’t be set aside. Then the next item, and so forth … no cheating and sifting through the pile for easier decisions.
  3. Make a decision. Look at the first item you pulled off the top and make a decision with it. Do you want to keep this? Only say yes if you love it and use it regularly — in which case, it goes in the Keep pile. If you haven’t used it in six months (or a year for seasonal items), get rid of it. Put it in a bag or box to donate or give away, or trash/recycle it. For difficult sentimental items, put them in a box marked ‘Maybe’ (more on this later). Decide quickly, and move on.
  4. Repeat for the next item. The key to decluttering is to quickly move through the pile, making quick decisions with one item at a time. Pick one up, decide, put it in the Keep pile or donate box or trash/recycle box. Move quickly to the next item. If you move quickly, you can get through a small pile in 5-10 minutes, and a larger pile in 20-30 minutes. If you don’t finish a pile, put it in a box to do tomorrow.
  5. Create a home. For the items that are in the Keep pile, put the back on the shelf, counter, table, etc. if that’s where you want them to be permanently. Or find another spot that makes more sense. This is their Home. You should create the habit of always putting them back in their homes. This way you’ll always know where things are. If something doesn’t have a home, it’s not worth keeping in your life.
  6. Finishing up. Finally, after putting the Keep items in their homes, get rid of the trash/recycle items, put the Maybe box aside for now, and put the give away/donate box aside to drop off to a charity or give to people.

The Next Few Days

I won’t be emailing articles to you for the next few days, but you should continue this process all month. So tomorrow, either work some more on the space you started with, or if you’re finished with that space, pick a new space. And so on, all month.