How to declutter your life in a few easy steps
If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s clutter.
I honestly cannot handle things lying around where they should not be. Now there is a huge difference between a collection of something and clutter. So, that giant pile of books in the corner of my dining room, the one that has been waiting for a book shelf for the last two years – that’s a collection. The bowl on the shelf with bits and bobs that get left on the kitchen counter and have no home – that’s clutter. That’s not to say some collections don’t belong in storage units, but that’s a topic for another post. Lets deal with the clutter for now!
The stuff with “no home” is the stuff that drives me mad.
I am not a fan of trinkets or thingamabobs lying around. I have a habit of giving things away that drive me nuts and I firmly believe that my clutter could bring happiness to someone else. So by all means, let that happen.
So it was interesting for me to merge lives with someone who saves the old lightbulbs and batteries. Yes, my day is filled with asking never-ending questions like “but do we really need this old (insert random item here)” and usually the answer is a sheepish “no” followed by throwing things in the bin. We really didn’t need that shredded cable did we?
I would probably throw my own arm away if it fell off and lay around on the floor for a minute too long.
I must admit, the one place I tend to let get a bit too cluttered is my kitchen pantry. It always seems to be filled with old boxes of things I’ve forgotten to use up. Yesterday I chucked out an entire box of Quinoa that I’d totally forgotten I had in the first place. Why? because it was sitting behind the giant bag of old nachos.
It’s time to address the Quinoa in the closet!
1. Understand why we keep clutter
In order to get rid of the things that we keep which clutter our lives, we need to understand why we are hanging on to those things so that we can change our behaviour towards clutter in the future and prevent it from piling up all over again.
Someone you love, has given you something you hate. Now you feel obliged to save it. However, it makes you miserable. It was given with the best intentions but that doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. I was once given a tall thin gel candle by a loved one and I hated it. I saved that thing in a box for years. Eventually there was more fluff in the candle than could fit and I had never even displayed it. Instead, it caused me misery. Yes actual misery from carrying the burden of hating it but not feeling like I could part with it. I tell you, the day I chucked it out – I literally felt a load lift off my chest. Any regrets? Not even one.
Hoping it will be useful at some point in the future.
This is one I used to suffer from all the time. That niggling feeling that you will need something the day after you’ve thrown it out. Honestly though, how many times has that actually happened to you? Probably none at all. It’s not going to suddenly happen after you chuck out that damn candle either. If you haven’t used something in the last ten years (or even one) it’s probably served it’s purpose and can be safely given away to someone who will use it or just thrown out.
So you wore that prom dress when you were 17 and you know that if you get rid of it you’re going to regret that for the rest of your life. Probably not the case but if it’s the memory you want, how about just taking a photo of it and putting that into a scrap-book. Or perhaps a certain item of jewellery reminds you of a great night you had. How about writing about it in a journal, taking a photo of the item and then saving that for all eternity. Then give the item to someone who can actually use it now. You don’t have the get rid of the memories, just the thing causing clutter in your life.
A lot of us struggle to get up and deal with the things that need our attention. It’s not that we don’t want to throw things out or pack them away it’s just that we haven’t yet managed to find the time to do so. We just keep putting things off. Before we know it, we are surrounded by things that have no value to us and cause chaos in our lives. We end up hoarding old envelopes and unopened mail all kept in a nice big pile of “will get to that later.” Procrastination is the breeding ground of clutter. Why do now when you can put it off till it has grown into a giant overwhelming pile of everything?
2. Steps to take to get it out your life
[bctt tweet=”It’s time to take action and finally get rid of that junk! #DeclutterYourLife”]
Well, Rome wasn’t built-in a day and neither should you try to get rid of it all in one big chunk. Start small, with one drawer and then move to the next and before you know it you’ve cleared out the closet. When you’re done with the closet, move onto the room and slowly, your whole house.
Tools you will need
It doesn’t have to be an entire day. Any spare amount of time that you have can be used to properly deal with certain clutter in your home.
Only 5 minutes to spare? – Clear out a drawer in your bedside table
10 Minutes to spare? – Clear out the entire bedside table.
20 minutes to spare? – How about that one cupboard you’ve been meaning to get to for ages?
A day? – Spend it sorting through your home office and finally get around to sorting through that paperwork.
It doesn’t matter how much time you have but with the right mindset and a can do attitude you can easily tackle your entire home in small manageable bits. Eventually, you will be completely clutter free and that mountain of paperwork will stop weighing your shoulders down.
Four bags or boxes.
- Junk that needs to be chucked out
- Things you want to keep
- Things to donate
- Things to sell
Once you have these bags or boxes and a little bit of time set out, it’s literally a matter of just sitting down and emptying out that drawer. You can either tumble everything onto the floor and start with a big pile to get rid of or take each item out one at a time from the drawer and place it into the relevant box. Be very strict with yourself. Will you REALLY need that nearly finished tube of cream that you haven’t seen in 6 years? No, probably not. It’s probably expired SO CHUCK IT OUT!
If something isn’t your style or taste anymore but might still be better suited to someone else then by all means donate it. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure and you definitely don’t need it clogging up your life.
If you find something valuable you can pop it into the “sell” box and then put it up for sale on a community page or Craigslist or Gumtree. You can use the money you make to buy something that you actually need or love!
Sort through the Keep collection and decide if it’s REALLY filled with things you can’t let go of. One by one look each item over and ask yourself what you really want to keep and what maybe you just aren’t sure of letting go of. Remember to be strict with yourself. It’s holding onto things that you don’t need that got you into this mess in the first place.
Really need it? Okay fine!
If you decide that you really must keep things and obviously there will be things that fit into this category, then create designated spots for things that you’re going to keep and put them in their new homes immediately. Also, while you’re at it, develop a system for not letting things get back to the way they were in the first place. Make sure everything has a home the second it walks into your front door.
What happens when you finally let go of that clutter?
You feel lighter
You have more space
You have a tidier home and life
Most importantly – you can stop feeling stressed every time you look in the closet and see a giant box of unopened and expired Quinoa.