If your life is like most folks I talk to, there are a lot of moving pieces. And whether you are typically organized or struggle keeping your house in shape? When life is busier, like at the holidays, it’s harder to keep clutter under control. Yet, isn’t it just the worst to come home at the end of the long day to a hot mess? It sure stresses me out, which is why I’m sharing how to declutter a room in one day (or less).

Despite living a pared down life now for many years now, my stuff accumulates. Especially when I have more than usual social obligations. Or get into a writing groove, which translates to me neglecting everything that isn’t part of that creative bubble. And though it’s easier now that it’s just the two of us, I remember how hard it was to keep a tidy house when the girls were little.

A messy house just stressed me out even more.

Science supports that understanding. A team of UCLA researches found that the stress levels of moms rose significantly when they had to deal with their family’s things. I’m sure you’ve felt your blood pressure rise when you walk in the door after a long day at work to piles of laundry and stacks of papers. Especially when all you want to do is sit by the fire with a cup of tea.

And if you’re reading this during the holiday season, know that the “second shift” that women take on sometimes brings a “third shift”. And that “Third Shift” is dealing with the holiday responsibilities: planning parties, preparing for guests, and buying gifts. Of course a cluttered home is going to add to that stress even more.

When you learn how to declutter a room in one day, you can parlay that knowledge throughout the house. Better yet, decluttering the rooms you spend the most time in? It allows you to arrive home at the end of the day and relax.

And isn’t that at the heart of what home should be? A place that welcomes you in and invites you to be yourself?

Here’s how to declutter a room in one day in nine easy steps.

Step One: Grab Some Supplies

Decluttering demands a few supplies. I usually recommend a brown paper bag, a trash bag, and a laundry basket. I also love using a timer to help keep me on track. If you want to accomplish just a tad more than decluttering (aka cleaning), grab your favorite cleaning supplies: dusting cloth, glass cleaner, furniture polish, etc.

Step Two: Define a Staging Site

Choose a place in the room you are going to declutter where you can put stuff. If there are no flat surfaces, use the hallway right outside the room. This is how you declutter a room one day. By knowing at the beginning that things may seem a littler messier before you finish. If you are decluttering a room in an open-concept type layout, declutter one area at time (like the living area rather than the kitchen and dining room as well).

Step Three: Commit to Working in 15 Minute Increments

That timer? You’re going to set it for fifteen minutes at a time, focus on the task, and then take a little break.  Setting the timer will help you feel less overwhelmed.  Remember, you can do anything for fifteen minutes.

Step Four: Clear All Flat Surfaces

Methodically work through your room one flat surface at a time. Items go one of four places:

    • trash goes in the trash bag (toss liberally)
    • recyclable items (magazines, etc.) go in the paper bag
    • things that belong in another room go in the laundry basket
    • items that will likely stay in the room go on the staging site (photos, lamps, knickknacks).

Continue working the room until all your flat surfaces are clear. Don’t get discouraged if this takes several increments of that timer of yours!

Pro tip: if you have kiddos, you may want to set up a separate bin for each child to make re-homing things easier.

Step Five: Now Tidy Up Any Other Pockets of Clutter

Most clutter accumulates on flat surfaces. However, you may be victim to the magic chair that everyone tosses their coat (or worse dirty socks on). Are there piles of shoes on the floor? Stacks of books next to the coffee table. These items get the same treatment items from the flat surfaces get: trash, recycle, set aside to put away, or set aside to re-stage.

Step Six: You may as well tackle the dust

I know you want to know how to declutter a room in a day, not clean it. But while you have all those great flat surfaces, go ahead and clean them. Because how often do you clear them? So, wipe down all the surfaces with the appropriate cleaning supply for your surface. (For example:  I have lots of glass in my living room, so I am always armed with glass cleaner and paper towels.)

You can vacuum or sweep, too. If you’re motivated. I know, I know. This is cleaning. But you know that the dust bunnies lurking by the sofa are going to haunt you.

Step Six: Sparingly Put Items Back in Place

After cleaning your surfaces, begin putting back the items that you want to permanently go reside in that room. And do this sparingly. The problem with clutter is that it builds, so if you begin with less stuff in the room, it’s less likely to get cluttered again.

Also, only put back things you really love. If you hate the lamps, don’t put them back. If you no longer love that photo of your family, put a new one in the frame! It’s better to have an empty space in your home rather than have it filled with stuff you don’t like.

Step Seven: What Can be Donated or Given Away

Only putting back what you love may mean that you have items left over. Which begs the question: what to do? Well, you wanted to know how to declutter a room in one day, and part of that may require getting rid of things.

You can donate to charity. Or redistribute an item to another room (we do this with lamps and little coffee tables at our house). You can give them to a neighbor. Or your kiddo that just got her first apartment.

Just a word of caution: don’t set aside stuff for a garage sale or to sell on Ebay (or other sales website) unless (a) you have a garage sale planned in the next three months or (b) you  are a regular seller on Ebay and know all the work it takes to do. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a pile of stuff in a closet.

Step Eight: Re-Home Items and Toss the Trash

Take the trash out to your trash bin. Recycling goes into the recycling bin. And that laundry basket full of things? Put items back in their rightful place. This is why I suggested each child have their own laundry basket: you can give each kiddo their stuff and tell them to put it away in their room!

Step Nine: Relax in Your Decluttered Room

Now that you know how to declutter a room in one day, the last step is to enjoy your tidy space! Fix a favorite beverage and curl up with a good book. Or simply sit and take in the quiet that tidiness brings. Grab your journal and ponder your dreams and goals. What’s most important is that you take a moment to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You just decluttered (and cleaned) a room in a single bound! Congrats!

Though I shared this is how to declutter a room in one day, my guess is that it didn’t take the full day.

When you declutter one room, that can give you momentum to declutter the rest of your home. Remember, that it didn’t get messy overnight. So, look at decluttering the whole house as a marathon, rather than a sprint. But now you have a system to go from hot mess to inviting. Remember that you work hard. And deserve to relax at the end of the day, not be stressed out.

A neat and tidy home can go a long way to relieving that stress and make life feel less overwhelming. Because, darling, you deserve to be able to retreat to your home. And your home should serve as a space to lovingly hold and welcome you to be YOU.

Now that you know how to declutter a room in one day, are you ready to dive in to your whole house?

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that you cannot welcome new things into your life if you don’t release some of the old stuff. You need to begin to purge things from your life. Getting clear in your life by dealing with your physical clutter (big clutter and small clutter) will allow you to direct your precious energy towards creating the clear path to living your best possible life.

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