The first thing any pro will tell you when you first express an interest in living with less, is that decluttering is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you have found this post because you feel ready to start making radical changes in your life, GREAT. If you have found this post because you don't quite know where to start, GREAT.
Decluttering is not a once-off, fast process. It is a lifelong skill and habit that we can all learn. It is not over in moments - less Usain Bolt, more Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (for those of you who don't know, the current world record holding men's marathon runner).
Although decluttering is better likened to marathon running than to sprinting, it does not follow that decluttering is a slow and arduous process. Rather, it draws upon stamina and perseverance instead of strength. This is what makes decluttering achievable for most people - you don't have to have a supernatural talent or strength, you can build towards your goal.
Any marathon runner, amateur or pro, will tell you that preparation is everything. The same goes for decluttering. What is your motivation? What is your inspiration? What is your end goal? Answering these questions will likely give you all the motivation needed to power you through your decluttering.
The next step in marathon running is pacing. If you start too fast, you're going to run out of steam without finishing. Start too slow and you'll never make your end goal. I don't need to explain this metaphor...
My experience as a professional organiser and declutterer tells me that while people may initially be buoyed by their excitement to get started, this initial enthusiasm can soon fade away.
Aiming to declutter your entire house in a weekend? You're setting yourself up for disappointment, frustration and likely failure.
Depending on the amount of decluttering and organising your home requires, your project may be achievable in weeks, months or even years. Some true minimalists will be able to declutter in a matter of hours.
The key is to set yourselves achievable bite-size goals. If you need to declutter a messy kitchen, go drawer to drawer, cupboard to cupboard. Breaking down the work in this way helps maintain a sensation of continuing progress and success, rather than emphasising the daunting task still ahead of you.
I see decluttering my own home as a never-ending process. That might terrify some readers - have no fear! - but it is the key to maintaining a clutter free environment. Treating decluttering as a once and never again chore defeats all your hard work. Treating decluttering as a small and ongoing project helps ensure continual progress and maintenance of your new, decluttered life.
Returning to the marathon running analogy one last time. If you were to pick a marathon course, would you start with a long, hard uphill climb? No!
My clients often want to start at the hardest point. A fashionista who wants to declutter her clothes, a keen chef who wants to declutter his kitchen. I can not advise against this enough.
If you were to train for a marathon, you would likely try running some shorter courses first. You'd build from a 5k to a 10k, maybe do a half marathon. Decluttering is the same: start with something easy. If you're a great book lover, start in the bathroom. Build up your decluttering strength before you move on to the hardest part of your journey.
You'll be better able to flex your decluttering muscles if you've trained them in advance!
What are you waiting for? On your marks, get set, declutter!