Starting any big project can seem daunting. It can make you anxious, thinking about how much time you need to dedicate to get things done.
Decluttering is one of those big commitments that seem overwhelming at first. Questions and uncertainties begin to arise in your mind. “Where do I even start?” “How do I let go of things that are sentimental to me?” You might even say, “Maybe I should do it next time?”
In reality, the process of decluttering can be boiled down to basic steps. You only need to get things together to start living clutter-free.
If you need a guide to decluttering, our infographic has got you covered. Here, we will cover helpful methods and tips that will let you see home organizing in a different light—simple, fun, and easy!
Decluttering is the process of categorizing different items and using specific criteria to choose what to retain. When you declutter your home, you can get rid of things that you don’t need or no longer have use for.
For instance, it’s not necessary to have all the colors, shapes, and sizes of the same item in one area of the house—that’s like hoarding, which goes against the idea of minimizing clutter. Or perhaps there’s broken stuff that no longer works and is just lying around somewhere, taking up space.
By choosing to let go of unwanted items instead of keeping them, you create more space to accommodate those that have more value and can help simplify your day-to-day life.
Before you even try your hand at decluttering, it should be clear what’s in it for you. Otherwise, you might start asking yourself, “Do I really need to do it?” Of course, the answer is a resounding yes! You don’t want to be missing out on these attractive and practical benefits if you don’t give decluttering a chance.
- To make cleaning and organizing easier
The home can get very busy day in and day out, leaving behind a lot of mess for you to clean up. A decluttered home with just the right number of furnishings can free you up from having to spend long hours or exerting a lot of effort tidying things up.
- To save more money
Decluttering trains you to develop good money habits by buying only the bare essentials instead of going on a shopping and spending spree.
- To reduce stress and anxiety
Not only does decluttering allow you to rediscover a space you’ve forgotten you had, but it also lets you let go of the unwanted stress and anxiety made worse by the chaos surrounding you. Without any excess baggage to weigh you down, you feel a better and deeper appreciation of life.
- To spend more energy on things that matter
Decluttering makes home organization more manageable over time. You no longer feel like you’ve had a long, tiring day; instead, you’re bursting with energy and enthusiasm fulfilling your other tasks or roles.
- To boost productivity and creativity
Clutter can cloud your creative and critical thinking abilities, as there are too many distractions to deal with. By contrast, an uncluttered home clears your mind, giving you a boost of concentration and bringing out your creativity.
- To improve sleep and overall mood
A cluttered room can feel stuffy, making shut-eye difficult to achieve. When there’s no clutter to “see” or “feel” around you, your brain won’t have trouble winding down at the end of the day, and your body feels recharged in the morning.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Decluttering
1. Make a plan
2. Assess your space
3. Create your sorting system
4. Adopt a decluttering method
The KonMari Method — Marie Kondo’s KonMari method of tidying involves decluttering not by location but by category (books, clothes, kitchen items, etc.). Once you’ve lined up all items in each category, go through each and ask yourself if that item sparks joy. If it’s a yes, the item stays; otherwise, it can go to your pile of donations or trash.
The Four Box Method — The four boxes are for holding things that you should either trash (waste or garbage), give away or sell (clothes that no longer fit), store (sentimental items), or put away (useful or everyday items).
The Minimalists 90/90 Rule — Any clothing, household supply, or kitchen item you haven’t used for the past 90 days or will not likely use in the next 90 days should no longer be kept. You can be flexible by changing the number of days. The downside to this method is you can’t apply it if you’re working with belongings with sentimental value or seasonal décor.
The Packing Party — Imagine yourself moving out, so you invite some guests over to help you pack your stuff. Weeks or months after the “party,” you unpack only the things you’re going to use. The rest that doesn’t get opened again at the time signals that you probably don’t need them anyway.
One In, One Out Rule — Bought a new pair of shoes? Make space for it on the shoe rack by taking out an old pair—it’s up to you if you’re selling or donating it.
5. Start decluttering
6. Donate and recycle
The Dos and Don’ts of Decluttering
Create a decluttering checklist. Write down your decluttering to-dos to give you a clear idea of what or how much work you need to do. From there, you can break down intensive clean-up projects into manageable tasks.
Start with small instead of big projects. Decluttering won’t feel as overwhelming if you tackle one section of the home instead of the entire place in one go.
Use a labeling system. Whether you’re using boxes to ready items for donation, setting up bins for kitchen storage, or categorizing household items, a labeling system can make your decluttering tasks easier. You can find a full range of home storage labels or custom designer labels online.
Ask for help from friends and family. Remember the Packing Party method? It’s a great way to share your decluttering journey with your family and friends. You could even inspire them to start their own efforts, too!
Clear off flat surfaces like countertops and shelves. These areas attract more clutter—think utility bills, table napkins, loose change—because they’re very accessible. Remedy this habit by adding small boxes inside drawers for these items.
Sacrifice your schedule by not setting a fixed time for decluttering. Between doing all the decluttering work in one go and sticking to a regular decluttering schedule, it’s easy to see which is less stressful and more manageable. Allot at least a weekend to declutter each area or category.
Buy things you don’t need. Things can pile up easily, so as much as possible, stick to the bare necessities when shopping.
Be emotional. To some extent, you’ll feel sentimental about letting go of things that have been with you for a long time, or you have fond memories with. However, at a certain point, you must learn how to attach less value to things by considering how well they have served their purpose.
Count your spending in acquiring the items. The more you think about the money you spent on any item, the more hesitant you’ll feel about parting with them. Remember, you can’t recover that money anymore unless it’s a rare item that appreciates.
Take more than 5 minutes on a single item. Spending more than five minutes deciding whether to keep or toss something away is counterproductive, as you’re likely to get stuck and be overcome with doubt, sadness, or irrationality.
Declutter Your Day-to-Day Life
Clearing the clutter is easier said than done, requiring you to have the discipline to stay organized. At the end of the day, you must focus on things that add value, joy, and order to get more out of life.
Hopefully, with this resource, you’ll be on your way to making your home a place that you can fully appreciate. Just remember to take it slow. Figure out what works best for you and your space. Decluttering may seem like a big commitment, but it’s also a big step towards self-care.
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