If you’ve got a large uncluttering effort ahead of you, one of your questions may be “Where do I start?” There’s no one right answer, but the following are some ideas for where to begin your project.
- Start where you’ll save money. Are you renting a storage unit (or more than one)? Each unit you can let go of will save you money, and give you that immediate satisfaction of a completed project. You’ll also get a savings if you can move from a larger unit to a smaller one.
- Start with the attic, basement, or garage. Sometimes when you’re uncluttering a space like a bedroom or a kitchen, you’ll find things that don’t really need to be close at hand, and which could be stored without concern in one of these less accessible spots. But if the attic, basement and garage are already filled, there’s no room to store anything else in these spaces.
- Start with the place that bothers you the most. Is there a cluttered place you see every day, and every day it drives you crazy? You may want to start there. You’ll gain momentum for other projects without this big frustration looming over you.
- Start with the quick wins. Do you have things you can unclutter relatively easily, such as old baby clothes when your last child has outgrown them? You might want to start there and see immediate progress, before tackling areas that will be harder for you.
- Start with your own stuff. If you’re living with other family members or roommates who are skeptical about uncluttering, you may want to start with the things that are purely your own. Lead by example.
- Start with areas that benefit the whole family. If you’re living with family members who are more uncluttered than you are, you may want to work on common areas to acknowledge your interest in creating a better space for all of you.
- Start where the weather makes it easy. If you have a nice sunny day that’s not too warm, it may be a good time to work in the garage. If you’re in the middle of a heat wave, you’ll want to work in a room where you can stay reasonably cool.
- For papers, start with the current stuff. The current piles of paper are likely to be more important than the old ones; they are where you’ll find the bills you need to pay, notices about events you want to attend, etc.
- For papers, start with the old filing cabinets. But maybe your current papers aren’t a burning issue, in which case you may want to clear out the old filing cabinets first, to provide room for new papers to be filed. This is similar to the idea of starting with the garage, attic, or basement.
And even though unsorted paper clutter is inherently slow to go through, sorted papers can sometimes provide a quick win. I’ve tossed bunches of file folders full of reference material when I realized the information was outdated, and I could find everything I needed online. Or you may find filing cabinets full of things like old utility bills, which, upon reflection, you find you have no reason to keep.
- Start anywhere. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter where you start — simply that you do. Pick an area at random, on impulse. Or write down each cluttered area on a slip of paper, place the papers in a hat, and pull one out.