10 Things to Remember While Decluttering
Fast-track the process and ease the stress by making a plan before you begin
Read on for 10 essential things to remember when purging clutter, including making an exit strategy for your stuff, taking a low-pressure approach to decluttering, surviving a shopping freeze and more.
Maybe you want to be able to find things easily, entertain more, or simply experience your home as a more peaceful place. Or perhaps you have a move on the horizon, and you’d love to pare back before you have to pack up everything (and save some money by downsizing the moving truck).
Figure out the reason for decluttering that resonates with you, and keep that purpose top of mind as you get to work.
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One of the biggest hurdles we face when decluttering isn’t necessarily deciding what needs to go, it’s getting the stuff out of the house. Big piles of unwanted stuff are disheartening to look at – and the longer they sit there, the more likely you are to give up on the whole project.
Which is why it’s a good idea to plan an exit strategy for your stuff before you start clearing clutter. Keep it simple: find one or two places in your area where you can donate or sell used items. Write down the address and hours, and give each business a call to double-check the sorts of items they accept.
News flash: Getting rid of a large piece of furniture will instantly make your home feel bigger. It will also free up space that can be used as a staging area for further decluttering.
So before you get into small items such as clothes or toys, see if there’s anything bulky you’ve been meaning to get rid of – think furniture, bikes, sports equipment or no-longer-needed pushchair. If you’re donating furniture, many charities do free pickup.
If you want to create more space in your home, it’s a good idea to hold off on shopping for new items until you’ve completed your purge. If you’re tempted by shiny new things, try putting the desired items on a wish list (or create an ideabook of similar pieces on Houzz) and save them for later.
A strange phenomenon can occur when you begin clearing clutter: suddenly, your partner, child or housemate seems so much more of a clutterbug than you.
This is natural and normal, and may in fact be true. Nevertheless, nothing good ever comes from attempting to “help” others see their clutter issues. Lead by example, and hope they follow suit.
You know yourself best – do you like to start with a bang, or would you do better with baby steps? There is no one-size-fits-all way to start decluttering, so go with your instincts.
Have tons of new year energy? Devote an entire weekend to ploughing through several rooms’ (or wardrobes’) worth of clutter. Feeling completely overwhelmed? Start with your spice drawer.
More: 7 Times Bespoke Storage Made a Room
Marie Kondo may advise decluttering all in one go, but, in my experience, that’s just not how it works. Your eyeballs can’t even see all the clutter on the first pass.
So instead of feeling frustrated by your inability to completely declutter your space in one try, decide from the start that there will be a round two. After capturing and letting go of obvious clutter on your first round, you’ll be primed to remove even more during round two.
It’s one thing to have a thoughtfully considered, easily accessible stash of emergency supplies. It’s another to save random plastic spoons and worn-out blankets “just in case” of some unspecified future event.
So if you discover you’re trying to talk yourself into saving something just in case, get specific: just in case of what, exactly? If it’s for your emergency kit, put it in the kit. If it’s for another clear purpose, save it in a place that makes sense. But if you find yourself scrambling to justify keeping a juicer you’ve used once, it’s probably time to let it go.
You’re the boss of your stuff, so whether you crave an austere, minimalist space or a bustling artistic one, how much you keep is up to you. There’s no magic number of belongings; there’s no objectively “perfect” way of being in your home. Does your home make you happy? If the answer is yes, you’re golden.
Once you’ve decluttered to some extent, it’s important to move forwards — not with more decluttering, but with more living.
Go back to your purpose for decluttering, and start a new practice that lets you revel in your refreshed space. If you were hoping to entertain more, put a gathering on the calendar. If you’ve been craving more peace, make a nightly date with your teapot and candles and freshly cleared coffee table. The best way to keep your home clutter-free is to savour what you have.
Will you be undertaking a decluttering project this year? Tell us about it in the Comments.