“When you are filled with inner clutter, the chaos reflects in your personality as obsessiveness, confusion, disorganisation, broken speech patterns, insomnia, indecisiveness, and lack of direction. When your home and world are in disarray, you can’t relax. It takes more energy to be in chaos because you have to keep track of all the junk. Eventually exhaustion sets in. When you honestly look at clutter and ask if it’s necessary in your life, buried emotions come to the surface…. Toss what’s unnecessary so that you can finally relax, and your remaining possessions will have a clear place to land.”
My experience with decluttering…
Our family have been making a concerted effort to reduce the amount of “things” we own and only keeping what we need or that really brings us joy.
My inspiration comes from watching a few shows on Netflix like Marie Kondo, The minimalists’ and Consumed, from reading blogs around authors like Brooks Palmer who write about clutter… You should check them out!
It made me realize how much crap we have just lying around our homes that we don’t even think about, let alone use.
So our mission has been to minimize everything in our house… room by room we are slowly making progress and culling clothes, toys, kitchenware and decor that is not serving a purpose.
What I realized very quickly was how disposable the world really is. About how many of us just buy for the sake of it and dispose without thinking. How much excess we all have and the effects that can have on you and your family.
Generally speaking we don’t throw anything away… we offer to friends, family and sometimes strangers on Facebook pages that giveaway free items. We donate to local charities like women’s refuge centers and other organizations who try to help people in need.
We also sometimes use it as an opportunity to make a little extra cash by selling online or having a garage sale, or you could even sell your goods and donate the money to charity.
What I have noticed is how we feel with less clutter in our home, what it feels like to have the space in our home we haven’t before, that everything has a place and fits without stuffing cupboards and drawers till they overflow.
How much easier it is to manage clothes when there is only what you need and not mountains to sift through.
Seeing the value in the lessons we are teaching our children about the difference between wants and needs. Showing them it’s ok to let things go. That in order to make room for the new, you have to get rid of the old.
We feel less stressed and a lot more organised with less “stuff” in our home. Without clutter and chaos. We save time, energy and even money by living a life of less. I think this is a great process to improve your life and can be a great step in self care.
So my mission this year is to continue reducing the amount of stuff we have in our home and to try to reduce the amount of waste. I want to donate or sell what we don’t need, recycle and really think about and notice the amount of waste coming from our home.
How much of your home is used every day? How many ”things” in your home do you see, touch, use that actually makes you feel a little joy? Before I saw these reality shows and started following people who live a minimalists’ life I didn’t even think about what we owned. What was wanted but not needed. What was purchased but never used. What just sits there to collect dust and not bring any feeling or purpose.
If you think a declutter is needed in your life, then read on to see the “10 helpful tips on decluttering your home” that I have learnt along the way!
1. Find a place for everything
With too much clutter comes chaos! When you are looking for something and you have to find it amongst all the clutter in the house it can be a very daunting task, not only is it frustrating but generally speaking I have found myself giving up after searching half the house and the garage and ended up buying something I already had in my home.
A perfect but rather embarrassing example of this was with a dustpan and brush or you might call it a half pan and brush depending on where you are from. Over the past 2 years I had somehow managed to lose and purchase this item and when we did get around to REALLY decluttering we found 6 of these in our home!
So when you start to declutter, aim for every item to have its own place. Group items that are alike together so they are easier to find. Use boxes and baskets so that you can easily grab things from cupboards or shelves and you won’t find yourself knocking things over or having to pull things out to get the items that are at the back.
2. Make a list and set goals
Before you begin, sit down and work out a list of your goals, how much stuff do you want to get rid of? Are there spaces in your home that need a lot more attention than others? What is the biggest priority for you? Write it all down with the people you live with so that you all have a plan, some goals and you know what you are committing to. Then it’s as easy as picking something from the list when you have some spare time or have set aside time to begin decluttering your home.
This is also a good opportunity to lay some ground rules about how much you would like to keep and what items need to be culled, this is particularly good when children are involved as it gives them to space to have an open conversation and know what they are in for before you begin.
3. Work out your own sorting system
Everyone sorts in their own way, my favourite method is simply to bring 4 tubs, boxes or washing baskets (whatever you have on hand) and to label them; Keep, Donate, Trash and Relocate.
Take the boxes into the area or room you are planning to declutter and every item needs to fit into one of the four categories. Once you have completed this sorting system, then you find a place for every item in the keep box, set aside in the car or garage the items you plan to donate, throw the trash away and find a home for all the items in the relocate box.
This is the simplest way I have found to declutter and works well for our family. I love to donate and my kids are starting to understand this concept now too which in my opinion is great.
4. Start small
Don’t set a goal to declutter your house in one day or one week. That is a HUGE job and very overwhelming, instead, break the area down into smaller jobs. Then you can complete them one at a time and tick them off your list. You will feel more like you have accomplished something and will see yourself progressing as you go. Some days we really got on a roll with decluttering and accomplished an entire days work but don’t pressure yourself to do it all at once.
Pace yourself and focus on doing the job right the first time, if you bite off more than you can chew… you may feel like giving up or you may rush through and not really declutter effectively.
5. Get rid of paperwork
This was a huge eye-opener for us, we had SO MUCH PAPERWORK! It was actually ridiculous. TWO filing cabinets, 4 accordion style folders, trays of unfiled paperwork and even a few random boxes we hadn’t unpacked from moving years ago.
We sat down on the dining room floor and tackled this head on, we threw out more than 80% I would say as they weren’t required to be kept or we had access to them digitally. We found old manuals and warranties for appliances we haven’t owned in years and utility bills going back ten years.
Work out what exactly you NEED to keep in your country, if it’s needed and can’t be accessed digitally then file it away, if it’s not then GET RID OF IT. You will feel so much better afterward, have a clearer filing system and a lot more space in your office!
6. Be ruthless with clothing
I think a combination of a couple of ways I have learned to cull clothes works pretty effectively. The Marie Kondo way is to pick up an item of clothing and to think about if it brings you joy, if it doesn’t then toss it. I like this idea but prefer to think about it like this… do I love this piece of clothing? Do I feel good wearing this? Do I wear it often? If the answer is no then I get rid of it.
If I find myself really torn about a particular piece of clothing I use the backwards coat hanger method, turn your coat hanger around backwards. If you wear that piece of clothing then turn the hanger the right way. After a month, check to see what is still turned backwards and this is a good indication that it probably needs to go.
7. Store it so you can see it
Once you have decluttered your area and you have your keep box, try to think of the best way to store those items so they are easy to see and can be grabbed with ease.
The easiest way I find to do this is to use boxes and baskets as I mention before, I use them in cupboards, pantries, drawers, my fridge, the bathroom. It’s much easier to store, easier to group things and you can see at a glance what you need.
I also like to label everything I can so that it’s even easier to find. I have big plans to purchase a labeler so I can attack my fridge, pantry and linen cupboard. Not only does labeling help you find things but it helps to remind you to put it back where it belongs.
8. Try and use the 80/20 principal
Remember the 80/20 rule: Most people wear only 20% of their clothing 80% of time. Much of the rest reflects past sizes, past self-images or past life roles. Recognise them for what they are. “If you want to move forward, release the past, starting with your closet,” writes Jennifer Baumgartner in her book “You Are What You Wear.”
This is a great rule to use when decluttering and doesn’t need to just apply to clothing. You will find a similar balance in your kitchen and bathroom, linen and even the kids toys. So try to remind yourself of this principle while you are decluttering as it really can help you to be ruthless.
9. Leave no stone unturned
There is no point in going through an entire room, sorting and culling only to leave one drawer full of junk to continue to accumulate. Make a commitment to declutter room by room or area by area and don’t move on to the next one until it is COMPLETED!
10. Take it away… straight away
Don’t leave your trash or donated items sitting around in your home. It will only tempt you, or in my case the kids to secretly start pulling items back into your home. Load trash straight into a dumpster or garbage bin, place all the donate items into the back of your car so you can drive them straight to your local charity or a charity collection bin. Post them to Facebook or local community groups that giveaway unwanted items.
TAKE IT AWAY, STRAIGHT AWAY!
These are my top ten tips, what has worked for me so far. We have made it through probably 75% of our home so far and have a list running to continue decluttering until the whole house and garage have been completed.
Below I will share a few great YouTube videos I have found on decluttering that are great to watch and offer further insight. I hope you enjoy!
What I would like to do is to set a challenge, my challenge to you is to take a look at your own home, what do you see that you actually NEED? What do you own that really MEANS something to you?
Then I want you to share in the comments what you noticed, what you realized wasn’t really important or needed. I want you to write one area of your home in the comments that you plan to tackle and update us on how you went!
Share a before and after of that sock drawer you finally sorted or that “junk drawer” that so many of us have.