When your home is filled with clutter, trying to tackle a mountain of stuff can be quite overwhelming. Most of us know it is entirely possible to live in a clutter-free environment. But some of you are not so sure. Your house has been cluttered for so long, you have given up all hope of ever living any other way.
For you, the first step to decluttering your home is to take heart and believe it is entirely possible. Realize that you will never get there if do not resolve in your mind that you can accomplish it.
Everyone has a little “junk” lying around the house. OK, some of us may have more than a little. Regardless of how much stuff we have, we can all benefit from decluttering our lives and homes.
The mess causes stress. If you’re not taking care of the clutter in your home, you may not be taking care of yourself either.
While everyone may not be a minimalist, if you’re used to an environment where piles of clutter are everywhere, changing that pattern can seem impossible.
But once you’ve gotten used to living clutter-free, the little choices you make to stay that way don’t feel like chores; they simply become a part of daily life.
There’s no right way to unclutter and no one way that works for everyone. What’s important to remember is that getting started is far more important than how you get started.
Don’t Let the Clutter In
Stopping something before it begins is the easiest way to make sure “it” never happens. This applies to clutter and hoarding clutter.
Once clutter comes in—and most clutter does not announce upfront that it’s destined to become clutter—it’s much harder to get it out again.
So just say no to impulse purchases, free gifts, good deals on products you wouldn’t buy otherwise, furniture rescued from the sidewalk that you don’t need, and anything that you don’t need or love.
Be brutally honest with yourself. Do you need that air fryer and if so where will you keep it? Are you actually going to wear those shoes or do you have a pair that looks close to it already? Make sure you’re not just ushering more clutter into your home.
Start With The Easy Stuff
Start with a single drawer or shelf. Empty the contents, so you can see everything. Pick up each item and make a decision. If you haven’t used or needed that item in the last year or simply don’t like or want it anymore, put it in a bag.
When you’re done, put the bag in the trash. If possible, do this on trash night so you won’t be tempted to retrieve anything. Continue to tackle one drawer or one shelf every day. This is the s-l-o-w but steady approach.
Start with the easy stuff. This will get you into the act of uncluttering with little or no pain or anxiety. Throw out, trash, or recycle anything that is clearly garbage:
- Expired coupons
- Makeup that’s more than one year old
- Sunscreen that’s more than two years old
- Things that are broken unless they are easily fixable
- Odd socks
- Grocery bags (10 to 20 is probably enough)
- Old restaurant and shopping guides
- Outdated calendars and fliers
Take Your Time
Start out fresh. Don’t start out tired from your day at work. Do not try to unclutter your whole house at once. Work in one room at a time and don’t switch to another room until you’re done. Seeing progress will motivate you to keep up the good work.
Plan on spending no more than one hour each day on uncluttering activities. After an hour, you won’t be so fresh, and your decision-making ability may falter.
Commit to spending at least 20 to 30 minutes uncluttering each day.
Talk to Yourself
While decluttering it’s important to ask yourself the right questions. If the idea of going through your house deciding what to throw out is unnerving, think instead in terms of deciding what you’re going to keep. Keep those things you use or love and let go of the rest.
As you decide the relative merit of each item, ask yourself the following questions:
- When was the last time I used this?
- Why don’t I use it more often?
- Does it have any sentimental value?
- Do I love it?
- What is the worst possible thing that could happen if I just threw it away?
- Could I get another one if I needed to?
- If I keep it, where should it go?
- How many of these do I need?
Have a conversation with your SO or roommate.
Sometimes the problem isn’t just with us, it’s with the person or people we live with. An uncluttered home is the result of a shared philosophy of simplicity of all the people living in the house.
If you take a few minutes to explain that you really want to have an uncluttered house, and that you could use their help, you can go a long way to getting to that point.
Try to be persuasive and encouraging rather than nagging and negative.
Allow Clutter in a Few “Zones
You don’t have to banish every miscellaneous item from your home. Just make sure you restrict these objects to an organized junk drawer or similarly small area, such as your launchpad. When you have more clutter than will fit in your junk drawer, junk box, or junk shelf, that’s when you need to start culling.
Learn to love the uncluttered look.
Once you’ve gotten an area decluttered, you should take the time to enjoy that look. It’s a lovely look. Make that your standard! Learn to hate clutter! Then catch clutter and kill it wherever it crops up.