Author: Karli Florisson
Published: August 28, 2019
Clutter is draining. Anyone who has had to search for their kitchen table under piles of junk, or wade through half a closet of clothes they don’t wear, knows the feeling. It’s exhausting to have to constantly move things from surface to surface, and yet many of us cringe at the thought of decluttering. It doesn’t have to be hard–in fact, decluttering can be rewarding. In decluttering your crib, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment and a clean house.
The first and most important step to decluttering is to stop the flow of new things coming into your space. If you are continually bringing home new things–some clothes that you had to have because ‘they were on sale’, a super cute lamp, the new must-have book you’re never going to read, some knick-knack from a garage sale that you couldn’t pass up–then you will never be able to declutter. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop buying things altogether – it just means that you stop impulse-buying things, and only buy things that you really need. If you are an incurable impulse shopper, start leaving your credit card at home, and avoid the shops that tend to suck you in. Yes, it may be an incredible bargain, but if you waste hours of your time sorting, storing, cleaning and packing something, it has cost you a lot more than money.
Here are some other tips for decluttering (and energising!) your life:
Incoming paper such as bills, notes from the kids’ school, letters from Aunt Maude, and other cluttery paper can account for a big part of the mess in our living spaces. If you are forever clearing piles of paper from one place to another in your kitchen, lounge room or office, you need a system. Why not have a clip hanging on your wall to hold unpaid bills (somewhere that you’ll remember to pay them), and a fridge magnet to hold notes from school. You’ll need a file for important papers, and then the rest can be thrown out – no, you’re not going to read that catalogue from last week, so just file it in the bin! While you’re at it, stick a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your letterbox.
No, you don’t need to keep that dress for when it comes back into fashion, your kids won’t notice if you throw out some of their old drawings, and you’re never going to finish that craft project that you haven’t touched for two years. Be honest with yourself, and get rid of things! As Martha Beck says, there are three questions you should ask when deciding to keep or toss something: 1 – do I need it? 2 – do I absolutely adore it? 3 – would I trade inner peace for it? If the answer is no, move it on.
Don’t keep things just because they hold some kind of memory. If you hate that ugly dish grandma gave you, donate it to charity. Give your ex back that hoodie. Yes, really! Do you really need to keep the shirt you wore on the first date with your partner, your child’s baby teeth, and the souvenirs you got when you went on holiday as a teenager? Want to keep the memory? Consider taking a photo of you holding the item, which you can keep in your photo album, and then get rid of the item itself.
Just one. Pick a cupboard, or a bench top, or a shelf, and decide if you want to keep every single thing on it. Finish sorting that area before you move on to another area, or it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and then you’ll never finish what you started!
Ok, so you don’t necessarily need to throw things away. Some things just need to have a regular place where they ‘live’. Things such as winter boots, torches, sports equipment, and kitchen appliances. Work out where you want to store them, and get into the habit of putting them away.
Try this experiment. Turn all of your hangers backwards in the cupboard. Every time you wear an item, turn it the right side around. After a set period of time (say 12 months), get rid of everything that you haven’t worn. There is no point in keeping things that you are never going to wear!
It’s very easy for clutter to build up. If you get into the habit of tackling cluttered areas when they start to get out of control such as your pantry, your bathroom cupboard, and your wardrobe – then you’ll keep on top to the clutter. Your home will be easier to keep clean, things will look better, and you’ll feel better. So many benefits!
Cover photo: Lucy Vincent