461 – Learning the Skill of Organizing: Step 1 Declutter

Organize 365 Podcast
461 - Learning the Skill of Organizing: Step 1 Declutter

The term “getting organized” means different things to different people. Over the last ten years of teaching people the skills of finally getting their home and paper organized, I have distilled “getting organized” into 3 distinct stages.

Step 1 – Decluttering

Step 2 – Organizing

Step 3 – Increasing Productivity

Each step has its own goals and strategies for success. In this series, I will be describing each step from beginning to end and giving you actionable strategies to “get organized.”

These steps are progressive and need to be done in order in each area you want to tackle in your home and in your life. These stages of organizing are the foundational skills you can apply to any area you want to organize.

3 Stages of Organization


I used to see decluttering and organizing as one step because I usually do them simultaneously. However, each does have its own unique focus and objective. Decluttering always comes first.

Once you decide what area you are going to “organize,” the first step is to declutter.

Decluttering is removing what you do not want or need in a space.

Some obvious things to declutter are food, trash, or broken items.

Then, it gets harder. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right? So how do you decide what should go and what should stay?

The key here is to focus on what can go, not how to organize what you want to keep. There are no right or wrong answers here.

  • How overwhelmed are you?
  • How long have you felt unorganized?
  • How much time do you have?

The more overwhelmed you are and the longer you have felt unorganized, the more you need to declutter. We just save TOO much! The idea of living with less is weird.

It feels odd and hard to give away perfectly good items you paid for. But the freedom of living with less is just that — freedom.

How much less?

In my experience, you can declutter 20-50% at one time. We are not going for perfect here.

Progress over perfection.

To be most effective, take everything out of the space you are decluttering. Remove the clothes from the closet. Take the cans out of the pantry. Move everything to a new location while making decisions. You will get rid of more when your items are not in their usual homes.

5 Steps to Decluttering

  1. Eliminate all trash, food, and broken items.
  2. Sell or consign anything of value.
  3. Bag up any donateable items and deliver them to the donation center (including consignment items that were not accepted).
  4. Collect everything that goes in another room and take it to that room. Put as much away as possible.
  5. Make a list of any spaces that need organizers or items that need to be replaced.

Decluttering feels good, but you are not finished. Step 2 —Organizing — needs to follow quickly to bring order into your newly emptied space.

Listen to the podcast to hear about how I declutter spaces, schedules, and papers.

Links to things mentioned in the podcast: The Productive Home Solution

Watch Lisa’s Your Most Productive Year Ever Masterclass for free!

Learn how Lisa divides the year into three mini years in Podcast 134 “How I Divide My Year Into Thirds.”

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