Decluttering is probably one of my favorite things to do. I am someone who is constantly going through my possessions and getting rid of things. I find it to be therapeutic and invigorating. I’ve come to a place in my life that I value the space between things and it’s more important to me to have those spaces than it is to fill them. As a teenager, I was definitely a more is more kind of person. I had things plastered all over my walls, stacks of books, a bulging wardrobe, and endless knick-knacks. I kept everything.
I talked about all the moving I’ve done in the last 10-ish years of my life in my book declutter post, so I won’t get into that too much here. In short, I talked about the actual weight of carrying my books with from place to place and the same holds true of all my other possessions. Moving really makes you deal with the amount of stuff you have.
I’m not sure decluttering can ever really be considered easy, but I’ve reached a point where it’s easier now than it used to be. I enjoy it. It’s not that way for a lot of people though and I understand that the process can be highly emotional and incredibly difficult. So, in the spirit of sharing, I put together some decluttering tips that I use for anyone that may be struggling. So let’s get into it.
- My first tip is to ask yourself why you want to declutter. Having a purpose is a good way to keep yourself motivated. Decluttering can be a long and tiring process and at times it will be difficult to stay motivated. Take the time to think about why it’s something you want to do and what you’re hoping to get from it. Write it down if that will help. For me, I like to have space. I find clutter to be exhausting to look at and I’m never as productive in a space that’s overtaken by things. I also like the freedom of having less physical possessions. It makes moving easier. It makes cleaning and tidying easier. And it’s satisfying to know that you don’t need much to live and thrive. Find your reason and let that drive you.
- Start with your clothes. This is a pretty common tip for decluttering and for good reason. Our wardrobes are usually the easiest thing for us to come to terms with. Every time I’m in the mood to declutter, I start with my clothes. I pull everything out, pile it up on my bed Marie Kondo style, and take a good look at it. With clothing especially, I think it’s important to get it all into one space and see how much of it you have. It’s hard to get a good sense for it when everything is put away in closets and drawers. Seeing my whole wardrobe compiled in one place is what really kicked my butt into gear for a massive declutter. I didn’t realize how much I had.
Once you’ve got all your clothes out, I recommend the konmari method of holding up each piece and seeing if it sparks joy or not. Things that you love (or need, like work clothes) can go into your keep pile, and everything else can go. Feel free to make a maybe pile for anything you’re not sure about.
- Tip number three is to declutter your maybe pile. A lot of people recommend putting your maybe items into a box and tucking it away into a closet somewhere. If you don’t reach for any of the stuff in a predetermined amount of time, you can get rid of it. While I think there can be value in that if you’re having a really hard time letting go of things, it’s not a method I’ve ever used. I don’t like to have extra stuff in my life that I don’t love or need. I’d rather have empty space. For me, anything that goes into a maybe pile means that I don’t really love it or need it and that’s grounds for being decluttered. I do make a maybe pile, particularly for my clothes, but at the end of the process I’m usually so amped up about getting rid of stuff that I just dump the whole maybe pile into the donate pile. It’s exhilarating and I’ve never regretted getting rid of any of it.
- Time for some more introspection. A big part of decluttering is learning to be truly honest with yourself and what your needs are. Do you need two pairs of sneakers, or will one suffice? When was the last time you used that ice cream maker? Can you reasonably go through all that body wash you’ve been hoarding? Or can you pass those things on to people that will get better use out of them? Again, this process can be difficult, especially for items that we’ve spent a good amount of money on. The thing is, the money is already gone and now you have an item in its place that is taking up space in your home and not paying rent in its usefulness or beauty. It’s okay to let that thing go. And if you’re really fussed about the monetary loss, try to sell it. There’s all sorts of ways to sell things online these days. Only do that if you know you’re the kind of person who will follow through on that kind of thing though. There’s no sense in decluttering something, telling yourself you’ll sell it, and then letting it sit in a closet while you make no moves to actually do so.
- My last tip isn’t so much about the decluttering process as it is to do with the items you’ve decided to get rid of. Try not to throw things away. Waste is a huge problem in our modern society and our landfills are overflowing. The things we throw away have a huge impact on the environment and it’s important to be conscious of that. If you have items that are in good condition and are still useful, pass them on to people who will love them more than you. You can give things to friends and family, put them up for free online, or donate them to local thrift stores. You can also see if there’s a way to re-purpose the items into something you would get use out of. The most obvious example of that is taking old clothes and turning them into cleaning rags. If you do feel the need to toss something, check out your local recycling resources. Even old clothes can be recycled, so just look around and see what’s available near you. I think decluttering is a great way to refresh your home and your life, but it should be done as sustainably as possible.
I hope this list is helpful for anyone looking to declutter their stuff. Do you declutter on a regular basis? If not, I’d love to know if there’s a specific reason. If you do, what are your tips/methods?