Need to declutter a space in your office or home?

A new-year is looming.  This is always a good time for a fresh start and re-organising an area of your office or home in need of some TLC is guaranteed to produce positive results ....

Follow our step-by-step plan:

1 Start small, think big!  De-cluttering even a small area makes you feel much more organised, so think of the end result, start with small steps and build on this.  Normally when you see what a difference it makes to de-clutter even a small area it inspires you to carry on.  Smaller projects are also highly achievable and can give quick results. 

2 Allocate time – ideally block out some time in your diary and stick to it.  Needless to say, there’s always something better to do than de-cluttering, so putting it in your diary will make sure it gets done and doesn’t slip down the priority list.  Some people find that one event will trigger a mass clear-up and that can work, but you will feel more in control if it’s pre-planned.  Even an hour can achieve a lot.


3 Be ready with boxes/files/labels/bin-bags/cleaner etc – think about your project before you get stuck in and get everything you need ready beforehand.  If you’re sorting out a large pile of papers then you’ll need some files, labels, boxes, shredder etc.  If you’re sorting out clothes, get bags/hangers/boxes ready, etc.


4 Decide how to categorise your items – we suggest you break down the area that you wish to declutter into a small number of categories, for example:  keep, store, dispose, donate.  Get mentally & practically ready for this and think logically – there’s no point having 10 piles, too confusing.  Keep it simple.  If you’re sorting papers, get ready to file with your new folders/labels if necessary.


5 Remove the clutter - It’s generally best to remove everything from the area first if possible, eg the drawer, desk, cupboard.  This encourages you to view the area with a fresh approach and allows you to look at your items methodically.


6 Clean the area – this is a must.  No point putting items back onto a dirty desk.  Seeing the area clean and clear is a good motivator.


7 Start sorting – the real work begins.   Take each item/paper individually and decide whether to put it in the keep, store, dispose or donate pile.  Be practical (you may well wish to keep it, but perhaps store it in the roof instead), but remain sensible and decisive (don’t keep everything!).  For items of sentimentality, a ‘memory box’ is a good idea, keeping everything in one place.

As you sort, remember to bag/box things by suitable weight, preferably as you go along – when you’ve finished you need to take these boxes/bags and put them somewhere else, so don’t make them too heavy.  Put ‘keep’ items where you want them as you sort, if practical, or in one pile to tackle in one go at the end.  If you’re ‘storing’ an item, put it in an appropriate stacker box (labelled).  Items for disposal can be put straight into bin/recycle bags, and those for donation should be bagged/boxed up and labelled so you can easily identify where they should go.


Don’t be tempted to just sort everything into piles unless you know you’ll actually ‘action’ the piles – you’re just rearranging your clutter!


If you’re sorting paperwork that has got out of hand, starting with three piles of ‘action’, ‘file’, and ‘rubbish/shred’ will get the pile into manageable chunks and ensures anything requiring urgent action gets picked up.  Ideally, file as you go along – this obviously saves time in the long-run, and you can always go back to the ‘file pile’ later if required.


8 Arrange the new area – you should now be left with items that you wish to keep.  Try to assess your area while it’s empty to see if it could work better - old habits die hard so sometimes it’s good to try new layouts.  Equally, this area will now look much better just from having de-cluttered, so a complete re-organisation isn’t always necessarily required.


9 Action unwanted items – as soon as possible.  If practical, put your dispose/donate bags and boxes straight into your car so you can combine a car trip with a visit to the recycling area or charity shop.  This is liberating – you’re actively removing items from your area and dealing with them immediately!


10 Final tidy/assessment – make sure you finish off the last tasks.  Piles left on the floor will encourage bigger piles, so if you haven’t managed to sort the last few bits, box them up and stick a ‘to sort’ label on them.  This in itself will make you feel good – at least you have a plan. 


Put those last few items away, vacuum the area and enjoy your newly organised area!


NB:  De-cluttering or re-organising a home for older adults who are downsizing, relocating or moving into a care home requires time, organisation, practical thinking, sensitivity and compassion as this can potentially be a difficult and stressful process.  Staff at Moving On are fully trained to assist senior clients in a practical way whilst providing sensitive support.