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It might be that you haven’t checked in ‘that’ kitchen cupboard for a while, or the well-intended but never cleaned out ‘box of things’ has just become too much to deal with anymore. The chances are you have clutter somewhere.
We all have too much stuff really, and when it comes to storing and using it, it can be pretty daunting. Clutter is really not great for your mental health either. But, if you are in need of some tips to help you kick the clutter to the curb then look no further!
This isn’t about stripping your home down to the bare bones. It’s more about paying attention to what you have, what you love and what you really use. If you’re doing this because you’re going to be moving, then you might want to order a skip bin before you get started. Be ready to make some serious decisions about the things in your home.
It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint
This should be a lifestyle change, and it won’t happen overnight. Look at the time you realistically have, and what you want to achieve. You have been gathering all of this stuff for years, and there will be much more there than you think. So take it a room at a time, and stay laser focused until it’s completed – then move on.
You can use the burst technique to get it tackled without giving yourself too much stress. It’s known as the Pomodoro technique, and it will provide you with short bursts of focused activities and then a gap where you relax for a few minutes. After a set of segments, you get a more extended break. This helps us stay really focused for 15-20 minutes per slot. Before you start the timer on that day, make sure you have all of your boxes ready to go.
You’ll be surprised just how quickly those focused sessions go. Don’t get disheartened if you don’t manage to do everything in one day, you’re in this for the long haul so just do what you can, when you can.
While everyone hopes this will never happen, imagine if you lost all material items in a fire. What springs to mind as the things you would replace? If you find yourself knowing that you would want to replace your books and computer then those are keepers. When you start sorting through everything if it didn’t make the ‘if I had nothing’ list then it should be donated or binned.
Keep the mindset that you probably don’t need whatever it is in your hands.
In the previous section, boxes were mentioned. This method is really helpful for sorting through things quickly. Each box has a different purpose.
Broken items, things with little to no value, things you have zero intentions of using, old papers. Bye-bye.
We often overlook just how much good we can do with the things we have in our home that we don’t use. Clothing, shoes in good order, kitchen appliances, old TVs, books, baby goods. All of these can find a new owner and make a difference.
Items of good quality that you know can make you some money, use eBay, Facebook Market and Craigslist to get rid of them. Stash the cash and don’t be tempted to buy the upgraded version.
These are the things that have either sentimental value or that you need and use.
Label your boxes and aim to have at least one filled per time segment.
You can add an extra box into the mix of things that mean something to you, but you would prefer them to go into storage. Don’t use this box as an excuse to avoid parting with your stuff though. And remember that storage units don’t always come cheaply.
“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. And if you no longer need them, then that is neither wasteful nor shameful. Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a cupboard or drawer that you have forgotten its existence?” Marie Kondo
Usage and Meaning
Sometimes we get attached to things like – the first desk we ever paid for with our freelance paycheck or the shoes that we met our partner while wearing. That is all valid stuff – but do you need the item, or is the memory enough?
When you are making the commitment to downsizing, you need to be able to separate the feelings from the items.
Here are a few things you can ask yourself:
- Does the item make you happy? (Shout out to KonMari followers).
- What makes it special?
- Is it genuinely irreplaceable to you?
- Do you use it?
For usage, you know that you purchased the breadmaker with the best of intentions, but if you aren’t using it, it’s wasted. Therefore no usage would mean donate or sell. When you start going through a box of photos, and you find old ones of your grandparents, that is a different thing. They have meaning to you, and in most cases can’t be replaced.
The trick here is to try not to get too consumed with how things make you feel. Often we are harbouring stuff without much of a reason.
Once all of the items have made their way to their new homes, or into the bin, it’s time to organise your space. Your instinct will be to fill those ‘gaps’ with more stuff. But, you need to resist that urge. Picking up pretty storages and files is excellent – if you actually use them.
Before you buy anything, wait 30 days. Unless it is an emergency item, then give yourself time to consider the purchase carefully.
Avoiding clutter comes down to changing some of your habits too. The habit where you buy much more than you need of something. For example, you probably don’t need extra throw cushions and another mug. We spend a lot of money feathering our nests with things we already have, and very rarely what we need.