As the year begins to wind down now might be a great time to start thinking about decluttering your home. Inspired by tidying expert, author and star of Netflix’s hit show, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo”, Marie Kondo an increasing number of people are looking to downsize their lives and remove the clutter from their homes.
For some Kondo’s radical overhaul system can seem a bit daunting to put into practice, however, as she advises dividing your home into categories, imagining your ideal lifestyle then individually going through each item and discarding everything that does not fit into that life, but not before thanking it profusely for its service.
While this can help people who are sentimental, and worried about throwing out useful items, it may hinder many people from getting started. The truth is however that living a minimalist, or decluttered life, is not the work of a weekend, and is instead something you need to live, or else you will turn around six months later and find all your cupboards are once again full.
With all that in mind here are nine tips for decluttering your life that aren’t in Marie Kondo’s book.
Define your goals
Minimalism and decluttering are actually two different things. Minimalism is a mindset that implies you must live with as little as possible in terms of possessions and well below your means financially while decluttering simply means removing the things you don’t need from your life.
For most people, happiness will exist somewhere between these two things. We all know there are a few things we could, or should do without to make space in our homes, but that doesn’t mean we need to live with just twenty possessions.
Deciding just what you want and how you need to live to be happy is an important part of decluttering your life and making things easier. Do you want to simply be able to close your cupboards or do you want just one of each dish so that you are forced to clean up more regularly? The answer will depend on you, and this goal is what you need to keep in mind whenever you go through your house aiming to reduce the wasted space.
Pause before you buy anything
Everything you buy needs to be carefully thought out. Living an uncluttered life is about defending your space from junk and making sure you don’t buy things you don’t need is the first step.
When you pick something up to buy it stop for a minute and seriously consider why you need it. Are you buying that item of clothing for a purpose or simply because it’s on sale? Do you need a kitchen implement that auto peels potatoes? How often would you use it? Can the peeler you already have do the job instead?
Never buy on impulse.
Clear out often
If doing everything in one fell swoop is intimidating try to schedule one regular cleanout instead. Grab a few rubbish bags and try to fill them with things you don’t need at the same time every week. Start with your clothing cupboard and move outward into your house.
As you go ask yourself when you last used an item. If you struggle to remember or it was a while ago rather give it away.
Once you have been through the whole house schedule additional sweeps once a month to do the whole house. Once you find you are struggling to fill your bags you can switch to doing your sweeps once every six months simply to maintain the new decluttered you.
Remember not to touch stuff that belongs to other family members initially. Show them what you are doing, and encourage them to help you. Hopefully, they will come around to your way of thinking.
Donate or sell what you discard
Giving away your possessions makes it a lot easier to let go. Rather than simply throwing something out you are letting others make use of it, and sometimes even helping people. This makes getting rid of it easier to justify to that part of your brain that wants to keep something simply because you can still see a use for it.
You might not like your grandmother’s knitted sweater, but if you give it to someone else who would otherwise be cold at least it won’t be going to waste at the back of your cupboard.
Don’t organise what you can throw away
Organised clutter is still clutter. Just because you have folded those clothes beautifully and put them in a drawer when they used to take up three doesn’t mean you have decluttered your life.
You need to be ruthless with your stuff. Don’t make excuses for keeping something when instead you can just give it away. In his book, The Minimalist Home Joshua Becker says , “Never organise what you can discard.” You will just end up needing to organise it again.
Start with easy spaces
There is an expectation in most things that starting with the largest and most difficult task and defeating it first will make you feel like you have accomplished something. This is generally observed to be the opposite of what you should do with minimising a home.
Leave the garage to last. It’s so cluttered and such a mess that simply the idea of the place is putting you off from starting. Instead, do the small spaces you can handle and leave the big ones to the end. Now, by the time you get to the garage you will know that it’s the last step before your task is finished, which should give you to the motivation to get it done.
Buy high-quality items
Buying higher-quality items is a mindset. Needing to save for an item that is exactly what you want rather than splurging on something that might do, firstly forces you to analyse exactly why you want something, and whether you truly need it. Secondly, it means your home is stocked with clothes and items you really need and love rather than simply things that will make do.
Being surrounded by things you love, or wearing clothes that make you feel good brings a peace of mind that will never be replicated by the items you bought on a whim just because they were on sale.
Additionally, investing money in quality items and buying things that are built to last will mean you don’t have to head to the shops and be tempted by sales, or things you don’t need as often.
Cultivate a culture of gratitude
Minimalism and decluttering are all about getting rid of the things that you don’t need, like or appreciate so that you can increase your sense of contentment at home.
The other half of this process is learning to focus on the things you have decided to keep. Learn to appreciate the beauty, usefulness or convenience that they provide. You kept them for a reason, acknowledge that and appreciate how lucky you are to be able to live like that.
Numerous studies have shown that appreciating what we have and being grateful for our life choices can dramatically increase happiness, and can even help us make better social connections.
Results take time
Decluttering your life is like starting to exercise or taking up a new diet. It’s a lifestyle change and things aren’t going to happen overnight. Appreciate that you are on a journey to a happier, more satisfied you and that the initial decluttering is just the start.
It’s going to feel great getting rid of the very obvious stuff, but in the end the real satisfaction is going to come from eventually realising just what you really need and what you don’t. Don’t give up.