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How To Start Organizing A Messy House

a senior lady is putting away items and cleaning her messy counter.

Maybe you’ve been putting off decluttering those closets and the rest of the house until you retire, but now your home is so disorganized you don’t even know where to begin.

Or maybe you’ve chosen to retire to a smaller home and you have decades of items, knick knacks, old photos, and memorabilia to get rid of.

Where and how do you even start going through everything and putting your home in order?

The main key to organizing a messy house is to start small and take it one room at a time. Set goals and deadlines and be uber picky about what you keep. Take breaks as you work and donate or sell what you don’t need.

You can’t sort through a messy home without taking that first step, as difficult as it can be.

This guide will provide actionable tips and guidance designed to motivate you toward a cleaner house. 

Where Do I Start Decluttering A Messy House?

The hardest part of decluttering and organizing an overly messy home is determining where to begin. The following tips will help you do just that. 

Make A Plan

A game plan makes the journey much more manageable. Plan when to start, where, and what you’ll do specifically. Then, estimate how long it will take you to do it. 

Set Deadlines

Make deadlines for yourself to stay motivated and get the job done fast. Keep your goals realistic.

For example, purging your entire home in a day is impossible, but you can make some serious progress over several weeks.

Start Small

The American Psychological Association reported that clutter can reduce productivity, leaving you unmotivated to begin cleaning your home.

It can also seem like such an overwhelming task when you consider how messy your home is overall.

Don’t think about it all at once. Instead, start with a manageable plan to clean one room at a time. Even if you tidy up half a large room or a portion of a room, you’re still making progress. 

You might not have a clean house overnight, but you’re on your way, and that forward momentum will keep you moving in the right direction.  

Set Goals

You should also set goals as you get deeper into decluttering your home.

Goals will keep you on target, and you’ll get an endorphin rush when you can check an item off your to-do list. It feels great, so you’ll want to keep doing it.

Be Picky About What You Keep

If you keep every item in your home, you’ll probably not get very far in your organizing efforts. The exception is if you have ample storage. 

However, even if you have room for everything in your home, do you necessarily have to keep it all? Removing items will free up your space, creating an illusion of a bigger home.

You’ll see your hallways, floors, and walls again, which will feel great. 

Of course, it’s difficult to part with some items, but as you ponder what to keep, ask yourself if you’ve used the item recently.

If not, and if it doesn’t have sentimental or high monetary value, you should consider getting rid of it.  

Donate What You Don’t Need

Some items might be in poor enough condition that you must throw them away, but you can donate or resell everything that’s lightly used.

Donating feels excellent, while selling is a nice chance to earn some extra spending money. 

Upgrade Your Storage

Once you’ve gone through your home and evaluated its state, you’re in a great position to assess your storage space and purchase some new storage solutions.

Invest in shelving, filing cabinets, large plastic tubs, plastic drawers, drawer organizers, hooks, and shoe racks or fences.

These items will help you keep your home neater going forward. 

Take Breaks

Even if you only tackle half a room today, decluttering is an arduous job. Don’t push through it, or you’ll lose the energy and motivation to continue. Take breaks every 30 to 60 minutes. 

Step outside and get some fresh air, take a short walk, or call a friend or family member to vent about the cleanup process (or ask for help!).

Keep your breaks to 10 or 15 minutes to continue working expediently. 

Make A Playlist 

Listening to some bops will make the time fly by and cleaning less taxing.

Put together a playlist of favorite tunes and invite your helpers to contribute their most beloved songs so everyone is happy. 

Use Temporary Storage If You Have To

You might not have the space for all the items you’re decluttering during your purge, and that’s fine!

Rent a storage unit to keep your items until you decide what to do with them.

This will take some of the pressure off, so you don’t have to make instant decisions you might regret. 

TIP: set a deadline for emptying that storage unit so you don’t continue to pay to store things you don’t need!

What Is The Fastest Way To Organize Clutter?

You may be able to appreciate the process and slow burn of long-term organization, but what if you want to get a jump on clutter fast? What are your options?

You have plenty, so let’s explore.

Start With The Closets

Household closets are among the messiest parts of any home, so by tackling those first, you can get on the road to a more organized space. 

Pull out all the outfits you’ll wear for the week ahead of time and place them near the front of the closet.

Add accessories for each outfit like jewelry, a tie, a belt, or a scarf, storing them with your clothes.

Your closet will be neater, and you’ll spend less time getting ready in the morning. 

Clean Your Fridge

Next, move on to your refrigerator, which can likely use a cleaning.

Throw away any expired items and those near expiring that you don’t plan to use quickly.

Then, sort by what’s freshest or used the most often.

Don’t forget to give your freezer some love, especially if you can’t recall the last time you organized it. 

Remove Clutter That’s Out In The Open

Another great tactic for decluttering fast is prioritizing the messes not tucked away in drawers and behind closet doors.

You’ll feel more confident inviting people into your home if you have a neater space on the surface. 

Tackle The Junk Drawer

If your junk drawer is overflowing, go through and remove what you don’t need and use.

You can take some miscellaneous items throughout the rest of the home and place them in the drawer. 

Is It Unhealthy To Live In A Messy House?

Living among dirt and clutter is not a smart choice for your physical or mental health. Here are some issues you risk.

Worsened Asthma And Allergies

Between the allergens, dirt, and dust that’s accumulated throughout your messy home, the air quality is lower than average.

If you don’t already have asthma or allergies, you might be at an increased risk.

If you do already deal with these conditions, the reduction in air quality will aggravate your symptoms.

You might feel shorter of breath more often at home, experiencing relief when you’re at work or school. 

Increased Risk Of Illness

Microorganisms and bacteria can spread more readily on filthy surfaces, creating a hotbed for illness.

Even if you don’t leave your home much, you might get sick frequently, picking up every cold and flu that’s going around. 

Higher Chance Of Tripping And Falling

You don’t have to be elderly to be a fall risk.

If the amount of clutter you’ve accumulated in your home borders on hoarding territory, you might have items stacked up nearly to the ceiling.

The reduced walkways and narrow paths increase your risk of tripping and falling. 

You could also have items fall on you, which is just as injurious. 

Fire Hazard

Clutter is also a fire hazard, so the more you have, the more dangerous it is to live in your home.

If a fire occurred, you might struggle to exit, as the fire can ramp up quickly, and some paths out might be blocked. 

Stress And Anxiety

According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety and stress increase in a cluttered environment.

Stress elevates your risk of weight gain, headaches, sleep difficulties, muscle pain and tension, digestive issues, depression, stroke, high blood pressure, heart attack, and heart disease.  

Did you know that clutter can be related to trauma? Read more here.

Shame And Depression   

The embarrassment you feel about the state of your home, compounded with the anxiety and stress from living in a cluttered environment, can leave you depressed.

This can cause you to isolate further.

Final Thoughts 

The only place to start when decluttering your home is the beginning.

It’s okay to go slow and do it the right way, but if you have to clean fast or want to, you have plenty of ways to do that efficiently. 

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