Lost Your Keys, Again?

If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of decluttering, consider this: the average American has over 300,000 items in their home! Nowadays, society’s mindset is that you need to buy the newest products to make your teeth whiter, your laundry fresher, and your phone faster, but all the items that you own need to go somewhere!

Those piles of clutter aren’t only in your way in a literal sense, but they’re cluttering your mind, too. They represent chores to do, goals to meet, and decisions to make. They take up space in your home and hours from your day, without helping you to achieve a neat, calm and fulfilled life. The benefits of decluttering go way beyond making your home look like a Pinterest board. Achieving an organized, home, office or car greatly reduces stress in your life — imagine always knowing where to find your keys!

A new calendar year is a great time to evaluate your clutter and learn how to declutter effectively. We’re here to explore some great decluttering tips with you:

declutter and reclaim your space. brightech blog
Source: Nirzar Pangarkar

Step One: Define Your Clutter

Before beginning the process of decluttering, let’s ask ourselves what exactly is clutter? Everyone has a different clutter battle: those books you haven’t opened since college, that leaning tower of papers by the computer, or the maze of abandoned motorcycle parts taking over the garage. Over time, the objects you bring into your life can start to overwhelm you.

In its most basic form, clutter is anything that’s untidy and messy in your space.

But, according to Helen Sanderson, declutter expert and creator of The Home Declutter Kit, “Clutter is actually a pile of decisions that haven’t been made.” The piles on your countertop are made of things ‘you’ll do tomorrow,’ or projects set aside for that elusive ‘someday’.

Now that we’ve defined ou lovely clutter, how in heavens name do we begin to get rid of it all and declutter?

rows of old books run down bookcase
Source: JF Martin

Step 2: Get Started – 5 Box Golden Rule

You don’t need fancy tools to declutter your home, but you do need five baskets or bins defined for these five purposes:

  1. Put Away

    This container is for items that have crept out of their storage spaces. This could mean a coffee cup in the bathroom or a sweatshirt in the kitchen. These are items that should go back in their designated spots.

  2. Recycle

    This bin is for items that need to be recycled, such as paper, plastic or glass.

  3. Fix/Mend

    Use this container for items that need further tinkering, such as a pair of shoes that you love but which need to be cleaned.

  4. Trash

    Designate one basket for items that are simply trash—things that can go into the household trash immediately. 

  5. Donate

    Designate one bit for items that you want to donate to a charitable organization or another person. These should be items you can imagine another person wanting or needing. 

Sorting your clutter into these five baskets already helps you create some order with the seemingly endless piles of clutter. For each room in your home, start the process with the five-basket rule. This will help you to organize the typical clutter in certain rooms as well as lessen the overwhelming nature of the decluttering process.  

boxes of clutter
Source: Clem Onojeghuo

Step 3: Investigate your clutter

While you’re sifting through your clutter, try digging deeper and ask yourself why it deserves to take up space in your home. People often associate objects with old accomplishments, goals, identities, or relationships, which can make it seem harder to say goodbye. Betancourt reminds her clients that they can still cherish the memories without the things they’re attached to.

Give yourself permission to recognize when an object no longer adds value to your life. Do you keep that ghastly vase because it was a wedding gift? Will you honestly wear that sweater that makes you itch? Are you really going to learn how to play that guitar? Allow yourself to be a little ruthless, but also remember that freeing yourself from clutter is a form of self-care.

box of old pictures
Source: Christopher Flynn

Step 4: Take the 30-day minimalism challenge

If the idea of tackling that pile/room/empty storage unit of mess fills you with dread, you may want to try breaking down your task into easier and more tangible steps.

Perhaps on day one throw out, sell, donate or recycle an item. On day two, two items. On day three, three items, and so on. After 30 days, you’ll have removed 564 items.

This is known as the 30 Day Minimalism Game, founded by self-proclaimed ‘Minimalists’ Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Their idea?

“A lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives.”.

Over the past eight years, the game has gone viral and you can find thousands of people documenting their challenge on social media using the hashtag #minsgame.

Start small, with unwanted socks, magazines, books, old makeup…and then gradually set the bar higher.

clean desk, no clutter, camera, pencils
Source: Alejandro Escamilla

If you really want to declutter, don’t box it up

Out of sight, but not quite out of mind. Getting organized might sound like a trip to The Container Store, but hiding clutter is not the same as tackling it. In fact, pulling everything out of a shelf at once can simplify your decision-making process by letting you clearly see what you have.

Chances are, if something’s been packed away in a box, you haven’t missed it. If you haven’t used something in the last year or more, it’s in the “suspect zone,” and you’ll probably survive just fine without it. Give it a new life outside of the box by donating to a local charity or thrift store.

stacks of cardboard boxes
Source: chuttersnap

Step 5: Donate

If you have heaps of stuff collecting dust, why not give it a new home?

Charity shops are always on the lookout for donations to sell or to raise money for those in need.

Whatever the item’s condition (as long as it’s not broken or completely ripped/destroyed), they’ll take it. Worst case scenario, they’ll just pass it down to the recycling plant.

donationbins
Source: theamericanbarber

Sometimes the physical process of decluttering is enough to reset your mind to a fresh start, but other times you need to declutter more than the stuff. Take the time to evaluate all the aspects of your life that need some clearing. Maybe you need to set small goals for yourself, or maybe it is time to delegate new chores to family members and co-workers. Whatever the case, now is the time to process all the extra and purge.

Hopefully, these tips will help you start 2019 with a clean slate.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these ten or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter.