How to Declutter and Keep Living a Clutter-Free Life
We all have one area in our homes where we just close the door, try to forget it and tell ourselves that we will deal with it tomorrow.
Well tomorrow has arrived - it’s time to declutter!
Let’s be honest. We are all guilty of it. We all have areas in our homes where we have a pile of clutter that we have been promising to clear for quite a long time. Somehow we just never get around to it. We haven't made the time to declutter.
Whether it’s a pile of paperwork that seems to have collected on the kitchen worktop or a bundle of clothes that claims a chair in your bedroom, we all have clutter in our life.
You pretend that you don’t have it. When you have friends over, the piles of paperwork get dumped into another room, and the door gets closed. You hope that your friends never stumble on the hidden mess in your home as you would just die of embarrassment!
You think that you are the only one with a bedroom you can’t walk freely in, or a garage that is stacked to the roof in random boxes. Don’t even mention the attic!
You are certainly not alone. Believe me, your friends hide their clutter away, just like you do!
So if it’s a normal habit to have, then why bother going to the efforts to clear it out?
Why get rid of our stockpiles of stuff that we never or rarely use? Why does it really matter that we have a clear space around us?
There are several reasons why we should clear-out and remove excess from our living space.
1. Physical - your home will be so much easier to clean, meaning less dust mites, helping reduce allergens. A clear-out will also make your home safer as you will be less likely to trip over those boxes you have been planning to move for months!
2. Financial - when you have removed excess items from your cupboards, you will be able to tell what you need and what you don’t need. No more over-buying, or buying a replacement as you can’t find the one you already have.
3. Emotional - clearing up with make you feel emotionally lighter and less burdened by the past memories or reminders that you really need to clear up. Facing up to this and taking action will make you feel so much more in control of the situation in your home. Once tidied, you can then use the area in your home in a way that will make you happy.
How to Start The Decuttering Process
The main reason why you have clutter is that you haven’t found it easy to face the process of clearing it. This may be because of time or from having to face up to emotions that you know will come to the surface as you look through things.
Decluttering may sound like a simple process, but it’s not. I get that.
So, how do you start this monster task?
Well, the best way is to start by taking small actions each day. Don’t try to tackle it all at once, you will quickly become overwhelmed and eventually give up.
Start by deciding on a particular area, clothes that you no longer wear, for example. Each day, for about 10-20 minutes, tackle that one area.
The trick to getting the job done is to keep doing something each day until you are on top of the job.
It’s just like learning a new skill. Start off gradually, but be consistent, and practice your new skill, even if it’s just filing away one or two letters every day.
You will start to see the progress in no time.
The Decluttering Process
Before you start the clear out, arm yourself with 3 cardboard boxes or large bin bags.
Label them ‘Keep’, ‘Charity/Sell’ and ‘Bin/Recycle’.
This is the start of your decluttering process.
Now, for each item here are 5 questions to ask yourself;
- Why am I keeping this? (You will typically reply - ‘It’s useful / ‘I emotionally attached to it’ / ‘I don’t have a clue!’)
- Does it add value to my life?
- If I didn’t have it, would I miss it?
- Have I needed/used it in the past 12 months?
- Will I (be honest!) need it in the next 12 months?
Using these questions, sort your items into your boxes/bags.
Then, go over your ‘keep’ pile again and make sure you really want to keep it all.
Warning: Be careful if you have a ‘To Sell’ pile, as sometimes this pile gives you an excuse to hang on to items rather that just parting with them!
Keep it Personal
It’s great if a friend or loved one offers to help you to declutter, and sometimes this is really the boost you need to help get you started, but be mindful that this task is really yours and yours alone.
Why? Well, by allowing someone to help you, you may be more likely to keep this stockpiling habit up. The other person takes away some of the responsibility from you, and you become reliant on another to help you complete the process.
There is always a reason why we start stockpiling in the first place, and by going through the practice of decluttering by yourself, you will be able to identify these reasons and start developing new habits around holding on and letting go of material items.
The Best Time to Start
The best time to start is now!
Remember that doing something is better than doing nothing, so on the days you feel you can’t be bothered, or lack the time to do much, then just do one or two things. That way you will not only reduce the clutter in your home, you will prevent it from building up again.
So start small, build it up, be consistent and remember to praise your progress -
You can do this!
If you need a little motivational help, why not download the FREE daily declutter checklist here.
A Final Note…
Try this as a motivational wake-up call - Go camping!
Live with limited resources for a weekend and see how you get on!
It’s amazing how much you think you need but don’t. Try it and see just how much you can survive happily without.