The end of the year is a time we all need a 3 step plan to decluttering. Holidays often have an influx of STUFF. Especially if you have kids. Christmas and Hanukkah means gifts galore from friends, family, school, and houses of worship.

In cold weather months we can find ourselves spending more time inside, which means we see more of the clutter.

Getting organized is one of the top 5 resolutions that Americans make each year. I want to give you a 3 step plan to decluttering that is Sustainably Productive.

Start Where You Are

If you have clutter in only one area of your home, congratulations – you know exactly where to start. That is not most people though. Where to start can cause analysis paralysis for many.


I encourage you to start where you are. This might be literally or emotionally.

  • Literally –¬†Where do you spend the most time? Since I work at home, for me this is my home office. Specifically this is the desk in my home office.
  • Emotionally – Where do you feel the most negative emotions? Although my desk is a hot mess and that is where I spend the majority of my awake hours, I can power through the piles and focus on the computer screen. I feel negative emotions when the kitchen is cluttered. Not the cabinets and such, but the surfaces.

Which space is it for you? It does not have to be a room. It could be your nightstand. What about that drawer that sticks every time you try to open it because it is too jammed with stuff? A closet or box in the corner perhaps?

Once you identify where you need to start, you can move towards a plan to tackle it in a Sustainably Productive manner.

Identify Small Steps

This is the part of the plan where you make it productive. If you don’t see progress, you will lose interest in the work. Let’s say your nightstand is piled with stuff and the drawers cannot hold one more thing. You know it is where you need to start because it is an energy drain to look at first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Old Method

Let me know if these steps sounds familiar to you. This is the old way of getting things done.

  1. Add “Organize Nightstand” to your to do list.
  2. Get overwhelmed and avoid it.
  3. Berate yourself for being lazy and a quitter.

Sustainably Productive Method

To make decluttering your nightstand Sustainably Productive, break the job into small steps. Then make them even smaller. Ridiculously small. Nope – smaller than that. Let me give you a suggestion on a small step to start with.

  • Take the dirty dishes off your nightstand, put them in dishwasher.

Boom. Done for the day on Project Nightstand. You can cross that off today’s to do list. What feels more productive than that? Productivity is accomplishing a task towards a goal. you just nailed it.

Feeling like you might be able to do some more? Try one of these:

  • Throw away obvious trash (ex: dirty tissues, crumpled paper) on the surface.
  • Recycle anything obvious on the surface¬†(am I the only one with a Diet Coke can on her nightstand?).

Notice the keyword there is obvious. This does not mean to go through the drawers and find trash. I did not even suggest you open any drawers. Yet.

Which leads us to the sustainable portion of Sustainable Productivity.

Continuous Improvement

This is the part of the plan where you make it sustainable. Plan to continue the progress in a way that you can maintain. This could look different for each person.

I encourage you to find the MVP – the Minimum Viable Product of the project you are working on. Back to the Project Nightstand example. Maybe the most you can dedicate to this project each day is 15 minutes. Great – add that to your calendar during a time you generally feel motivated. This might be mornings before you start your Pandemic-Home-Schooling-While-Working-Full-Time-Remotely job. If you are a night owl, this might be after everyone else goes to bed.

Literally add a time block to your calendar, “Project Nightstand.” If you use a digital calendar, you might want to add a reminder to pop up. Another option is to do a reminder on your phone. You can now make these recurring reminders so you can actually “Complete” the reminder and still have it fire the next day.

When the reminder goes off, pick a small task and knock it out.

Now you have a 3 step plan for decluttering!

  1. Start where you are.
  2. Identify small steps.
  3. Continuous improvement.

If you are stuck on how to break down your decluttering project or getting motivated to start decluttering at all, check out the Environmental Surroundings lesson of the Sustainable You program.

Reply to this message or comment below to let me know what project you decide to tackle. Join me on social media so I can celebrate each small step you accomplish!