This is a common question I hear from new clients. The answer is not simple. There is no one size fits all answer to this question. In fact, there are very few scenarios in life where one size fits all. The approach you use to declutter your home will likely be different from anyone else. Your situation is different from others so your approach will have a different strategy.
Not everyone needs a whole house declutter. Some just have areas that are clutter magnets and need some tweaking to existing solutions. Others may need to declutter their home from top to bottom. The top to bottom declutter approach comes into play in various situations, most commonly when someone moves, especially to a smaller home.
When moving to a new home, the approach we take is to purge, or downsize our belongings as we pack our things. We will just naturally decrease the amount of our things. It makes sense. We have to sort through everything as we pack anyway so we might as well get rid of the excess. Hopefully we are responsible with our discards – donate & recycle with a minimal amount going to a landfill.
Most of the time after we move to a new home, we will downsize again after we see how our things actually fit into our new space. It’s not easy to eyeball the space to determine everything that will fit perfectly.
For the situations that have gotten out of hand, where clutter is everywhere and it’s difficult to navigate, I recommend using a more strategic approach. Let me explain.
First, I feel the need to mention the organizing process – put like items together or sort, eliminate excess or purge, assign homes to all your things, containerize & label, evaluate or maintain. You will use all of the steps in the organizing process. Your approach is to determine how to begin this process.
The first thing that I would do is to determine your biggest available storage spaces. This determination is dependent on the size of your home. If you have a basement or a garage, or both, those would potentially be your biggest available storage spaces. If you live in an apartment, chances are that your biggest available storage spaces are closets.
There actually is a method to my madness, and here it is. You need to free up space for the things that you will keep. If all of your biggest storage spaces are packed, where will you put your ‘keepers’? After you have gone through the first steps of the organizing process – sorting & purging, you can’t assign homes if there is no free space available. This is a high-level perspective, but I think you get the gist of my message.
My recommendation is to tackle your biggest storage spaces first using the organizing process. When you have some free space, it will be easier to work through the other spaces. You will also have more storage options available.