20 Decluttering Tips for Busy Families

A decluttered home has so many positive impacts – it reduces stress and anxiety, increases productivity, improves focus, saves time and energy, and so much more.

However, getting to that point can feel like such a daunting task. Especially for busy families struggling to keep up with work, school, chores, errands, appointments, extracurricular activities, etc.

Trust me, I get it. When you already have so much on your plate, adding something else (anything else!) can feel incredibly overwhelming.

But if you want to experience the benefits of decluttering, you have to put in some work.

The good news is that decluttering doesn’t have to require a ton of time, energy, or motivation. You just need a little strategy and discipline.

Here are some decluttering tips to help you and your family work towards creating a clutter-free and clean home, no matter how busy life gets.

Decluttering Tips for Busy Families

1. The Timer Method

Whether you only have 15 minutes or 30, you can still get some decluttering done. Identify an area in your home that could most benefit from your focused attention, then set a timer and tackle it until time runs out.

So you don’t waste valuable time running around the house, you’ll want to have 3 boxes handy during every decluttering session: one for items that need to be relocated, one for items that can be sold or donated, and one for trash.

Once your decluttering session is over, it’s important to send everything in the boxes to their new home immediately. Otherwise you risk things getting tossed around again.

2. Create a Family Command Center

This is huge for eliminating mental clutter and paper clutter, too! It’s basically a designated space where everyone can brain dump and communicate schedules, document to-dos, keep track of appointments, jot down reminders, etc. It’s also a space where incoming mail, homework, and other paperwork can be kept.

There are so many great ways to create a family command center! Go follow me on Pinterest, I’ve created a board specifically dedicated to this and other helpful decluttering tips for busy families.

3. Create Drop Zones

This is one of those decluttering tips for busy families that can make daily life so much easier!

Drop zones are areas intended for things like coats, shoes, bags, and other everyday items you don’t want scattered around your home. Not only do they help to reduce clutter inside of your home, they provide an easy-to-find place for the things you need most. 

Drop zones are best suited for entryways, like a mudroom or by your front door. I won’t get into it now, but if you need some tips for creating a functional mudroom or entryway (even if you’re limited on space), I wrote a separate blog post about that.

4. Implement the One In, Two Out Rule

Have you heard of the one in, one out rule? It’s a popular one among the minimalist community. The concept is that for every new item you bring into your home, an old one has to go.

The problem is, that rule doesn’t reduce clutter. But the one in, TWO out rule does.

Abiding by this rule will make you and your family more mindful of the things brought into your home in the first place. It’ll also help rid your home of items that are no longer used/needed. 

5. Invest in Storage Furniture 

Storage furniture, like storage ottomans, coffee tables, and beds, are multi-functional.

They allow you to keep belongings neatly tucked away without having to purchase additional storage solutions that could take up unnecessary space. They’re a great way to store necessary items that can appear as clutter, like blankets, linens, chargers, remotes, etc.

6. Keep a Donation Bin in Every Bedroom

This provides a place for you and your family members to drop items that no longer fit, have become damaged beyond repair, or are simply no longer used/needed. Once the bins are full, you’ll just have to pack everything up and get it all to your chosen donation center. It’s a lot easier, and less time consuming, than performing dedicated closet cleanouts every few months.

PS: I share a lot of extra decluttering tips for busy families over on my Instagram page.

7. Keep a “F*ck It Bucket” on Your Main Floor

You can call it something else, lol, but this is my chosen name. Basically, it’s just a bucket or basket where you can toss things (like kids toys) for a quick cleanup. I use this method during my kids’ nap time to reset our house with minimal effort – because Lord knows once the kids are up the toys will be thrown everywhere again, lol. We empty the bucket at the end of the day, putting everything back in its proper place so we can start fresh the next day.

8. Involve Kids in the Decluttering Process

Having your kids help you declutter will take some of the work off your plate while teaching them valuable life skills. You’ll help them learn how to part with physical items, keep their spaces tidy, value what they do have, and take personal responsibility for maintaining their belongings.

9. Establish a Daily Cleaning Routine for Your Kids

This will keep clutter from piling up and prevent you from having to add their chores to your to-do list. Plus, it’ll teach them how to maintain clean spaces, a skill that will benefit them throughout their life. 

Etsy has some great daily chore chart options for kids and teens. They also have family chore charts!

Chore charts are great for busy parents because they communicate expectations for the whole family.

Remember, even young children are capable of completing age-appropriate tasks. While they might need a little help along the way, eventually they’ll be able to manage their own cleaning schedule. The time you take to teach them how to keep a tidy home now should certainly pay off in the long run.

10. Give Everything a Home

When everything has a home, and everyone in your household knows that the home is, it’s so much easier to maintain a clutter-free space. It keeps you from having to find space or make space for items when putting them away. This frees up time, eliminates frustration, and makes clean-ups a lot less stressful.

11. Create Kid-Friendly Organization and Storage Solutions

If you want your kids to help you maintain a clutter-free home, they have to be able to understand and manage your organization systems. Especially if you want them to take on specific cleaning tasks. For instance, if you want them to pick up their toys daily, the storage bins should be easily accessible, easy to open, and easy to identify (aka properly labeled).

12. Use a Labeling System Everyone Understands

Piggybacking off my last point, if you want your family members to help you maintain a clutter-free home, they have to understand your labeling system. If you have little kids, this could mean labeling bins and baskets with pictures and not just words. That way it’s clear what goes where.

13. Rotate Toys and Books

This is the best tips I’ve learned as a busy mom! Toy rotation actually helps to develop focus, spark creativity, and encourage independence (Nilo Toys). And it’s an efficient way to minimize home clutter.

14. Digitize Important Paperwork and Documents

You can use a scanner, your smart phone (there are apps for this!), or outsource this project to a professional. But digitizing paper clutter frees up so much space – physically and mentally. You just have to make sure you create an organized file structure so you can find things when you need them. 

PS: If you save every user manual “just in case” like me, a quick Google search should help you find the digital version (usually in PDF format) so you can save that and toss the physical one.

15. Meal Plan

You might be asking yourself, “Why would meal planning be on a list of decluttering ideas for busy families?” But hear me out!

Meal planning ensures that you buy only what you need when you’re at the grocery store, eliminating a ton of extras that could clutter your cabinets, pantry, and/or countertops.

Meal planning is especially important if you lack storage space. Having a ton of extras, but no space for them, will undoubtedly create unnecessary clutter.

As added bonuses, meal planning allows for quick breakfast, lunch, and dinner prep. It also helps to eliminate food waste!

16. Clear Your Calendar

A cluttered calendar can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. So delegate what you can, and leave plenty of space in your schedule to do nothing at all. Your mind and body will thank you for it!

17. Designate Clutter-Free Zones

Another solid way to keep clutter at bay is to designate clutter-free zones in your home. These are non-negotiable areas where clutter is just not welcome, like your kitchen counters or dining room tables. I recommend having at least one clutter-free zone in your main living areas since they get the most traffic. This will make them easier to maintain and keep some messes out of plain sight.

18. Declutter Daily

When you make decluttering a part of your daily routine, the process is less daunting and yet you still make progress.

Have a few minutes to put all those shoes in the mudroom away? Do it! See that junk mail piling up? Toss it! You don’t have to dedicate specific times to declutter. In fact, if you try to do it that way it’ll never get done.

19. Donate and/or Sell Unused Items Often

Don’t let unused items pile up! When you have a few bins or boxes filled and ready to go to their new home, take the time to make that happen. It’ll clear out some clutter and free up some space.

20. Keep Your “Why” Top of Mind

Why are you going through the decluttering process? Do you want less to clean and manage? More time with your family? Improved physical and mental health?

Whatever your “why” is, be sure to keep it top of mind as you declutter your home. Knowing the greater goal will help you remain focused and disciplined, despite your busy schedule.

So which of these decluttering tips for busy families do you plan to implement?

Whatever you choose, I’m certain they’ll help you achieve a calm, clutter-free home at a pace that’s sustainable for you and your family. 

I promise, the small changes you make will add up along the way! So even if you only have a little time to invest here and there, that’s okay. Everyone’s decluttering journey is different.

Just stay the course, and keep reminding yourself how free you’ll feel when your entire home is organized and decluttered!