Tired of having too much stuff? Here are 9 tips to help!
Do you suffer from a severe case of too much stuff? Are you filled with guilt when you look at the endless piles of products that you've never even used once? Is cleaning a major chore because of all of the knick-knacks cluttering every surface?
If so, you've come to the right place. Join me as we look at 9 tips to help you slim down your possessions and breathe a huge sigh of relief.
You've probably already worked out that having a lot of stuff doesn't necessarily make you happy. In fact, it's more likely to make you feel miserable, guilty, and claustrophobic. There are huge rewards to decluttering your home but I'm not going to lie to you, it is a big commitment. It will take a fair amount of time to do it. If you're aware of this before you start you're less likely to get disheartened and give up. I'm currently going through the process of decluttering and I've only got two rooms left to deal with. It's taken me three years to get to this point but I'm 100% committed to getting it finished. The rooms that have been tidied are full of air, joy, and peacefulness. With all of that in mind, let's get started!
The first thing to do is to go out and buy some more lovely products. What! We're supposed to be getting rid of stuff, aren't we? Well, yes we are, but first of all, we're going to need some supplies to help us with this.
Boxes. These can be of the cardboard variety or the more heavy-duty plastic-type. A mixture of sizes and types will be good for helping you sort your possessions.
Cleaning products. Spend a little time and money getting together some nice cleaning products that you're going to enjoy using. A new duster and polish will make the cleaning process a lot more tolerable.
Books. It's a good idea to get yourself in the mood before you start and read a few inspirational books. Here are three to get you started: Stuffocation by James Wallmann, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White.
2. Commit to 30 days of tidying
Don't worry, this doesn't mean thirty full days of tidying, just that you commit to doing at least a little bit every day for thirty days. This is enough time for you to get quite a bit of decluttering done and also start forming a positive tidying habit.
3. Assign a dumping ground
As you tidy up you're initially going to create a lot of mess. Ideally, this could all be put in a spare room but assigning a space within a room where you can put things while you are sorting is essential to stop you from feeling guilty. It's okay for that space to be messy. What counts is that the rooms you are tidying are actually becoming more pleasant places to be with less clutter. As time goes on, the dumping ground will move around to different rooms. For example, we cleared out one room to make a gym. A very small gym, but a gym nonetheless. This room looked fantastic with not a spot of clutter. As we moved to sort out new rooms we had to put things into the gym room to store them while we cleaned and sorted. But because we knew what the room should now look like, it was an easy job to get it back to normal afterwards. Eventually, every room will be tidy and a dumping ground will not be needed. Hooray!
4. Be ruthless
Now is the time to sort your possessions. Start in one room and start with one category of possession, e.g. shoes. You're going to have to be ruthless. If you keep every item you look at, your house is still going to be cluttered when you finish. Here are some questions to help you decide which items to keep and which to get rid of.
Realistically, will you ever use this item? Be honest.
Do you love this item? You don't have space for good possessions, you need to keep the excellent ones.
Does the item have a sentimental value? Have you got space to store it properly? If not, you may need to be more brutal about which sentimental items you keep.
Have you got space for this item? If not, it will just be clutter.
Can I use it up and then get rid of it? E.g. read a book and then give it to charity.
If you can't be this ruthless, ask a friend to help and get them to repeatedly ask you these questions.
Boxes are your friend. As you sort through your items you can either put them into an appropriate storage space if you're keeping them - more on this later - or they can be put into one of five boxes:
Sentimental items. Use a special box to store the sentimental items that you don't have out and about in your home. Use your creativity with this box to make it special. You could make a wooden box and varnish it, or paint a plastic box with acrylic paints. From time to time, you can then open the box and look through your sentimental items.
The Maybe Box. This is for items that you're not sure about. Put them in this box. Store it away at the back of the cupboard or give it to a kind friend who has masses of storage space to keep it for you. If you haven't needed to take anything from it in two years, then throw it away. Time has decided for you!
Items to sell. If there is anything of value, you are getting rid of then putting it in a box and selling it later. You'll be surprised at how much money you can make from things that you don't use any more.
Items for charity. Likewise, you'll be surprised at how much a charity can make from items you don't use any more. Good quality items of low value are perfect for this box.
The Bin. This doesn't need to be a box. It could potentially be just a bin bag. Or a skip. Funnily enough, this is for everything that is past its best and is of no further use to anyone. You can recycle your items too, if possible.
6. 10.1 to 10.9
Do you have the problem that you love every single item in your house, you can't get rid of a single thing, and everything you own is a 10/10 item? If you're serious about decluttering, try using this scale to help you decide which items to lose. Rate your items from 10.1 to 10.9, 10.1 being what you consider to be an excellent item but nowhere near your favourite and 10.9 is a stunning item that you could not live without. This gives you a good clue as to which items you can remove from your house.
7. Everything has its space
When you start putting everything back don't just throw it all in a drawer and forget it. You've spent a lot of time sorting and made some tough decisions so don't rush this end part. Everything needs to have a home, a place where it lives. For example, DVDs could live on a shelf, books in a bookcase, and clothes in a wardrobe. That all sounds very simple but there are some pitfalls. Imagine a shelf of DVDs where the shelves are so full that many DVDs have been laid across the top. Or consider a wardrobe where the hangers are stuffed to bursting and other clothes have been folded up and stuffed into any old space. You wouldn't have created the calm home you were hoping for and it's a sign you need to go back a step and get rid of some more stuff. I've just been through the DVD incident myself recently and I've had to make some tough choices to get them all to fit on the shelves. But fit they do. And now that I've got them neat I make sure I put them back in the right place when I've finished watching them. Aaaah, it all feels so peaceful. The main point is that if you can't find a home for something then consider getting rid of it and once an item does have a home, put it back there when you've finished with it.
8. One In, one out
So how do you keep things tidy? Operate a strict one in, one out policy. And I mean strict. Once you sully your beautifully tidy, vertically standing DVDs by lying one flat on the top, you've opened the floodgates and you're on a one-way trip to Clutterville. Nip this in the bud straight away. When you buy something of a certain type, e.g. shoes, get rid of another item of the same type. One in, one out. That way, everything still has a home and you're avoiding clutter.
9. Declutter in the shops
The best place to diet is in the supermarket by not buying that family pack of Ginsters, for instance, and the best place to stay decluttered is in the shops. Here are some questions to ask yourself when there is something that you really, really, REALLY need:
Do you need it or want it? There is a big difference. You need things that will fill your life with joy from day to day, things that you will continue to use and give you pleasure. The things you want generally end up being short-term hits of dopamine that soon devolve into guilt that you've spent all that money on something that you don't need.
Have you got space for it? If you don't, you've got a problem straight away unless you can get rid of something else to make way for it. Remember, one in, one out.
Can you afford it? Can you justify the expense? There's no point buying the latest piece of tech if you can't buy food for a month afterwards.
Will you regret your decision in a week? This is a good way to get you thinking sensibly about a purchase and not getting caught up in the dopamine rush.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a long process. You need to be brutal in slimming down your possessions but also be kind to yourself. It could be hard on you emotionally but keep reminding yourself that your end goal is worth it. If you slip up and find that a space that you had previously cleared is getting cluttered again, don't beat yourself up. Acknowledge it and start the process of decluttering again.
I'm currently going through a massive Marie Kondo style declutter. I'm not sure that I would have been able to do this process straight away from a very cluttered house. It seems like too big a task. I feel like I'm now ready to do this final layer of decluttering. We're spending one day a week on this process and our initial findings are that it is excellent and well worth doing.
The benefits of decluttering are immense.
Your home may feel more peaceful and full of space.
You may be free from guilt because you know that you use every item in your home.
Decisions should be easier because you have cut down the number of options you have and every option is a great one.
Cleaning is much easier when you have fewer things. Cleaning should no longer be a chore but something that you can do quickly and return your home to its best.
You may no longer feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in your home.
I'll leave you with two images and one question. What would you like your home to look like? Good luck with your decluttering!
To read more about my bad buying habits and find out the meaning of my painting Simplicity's Warmth, click here.