I have been in the process of decluttering now for the past two years. Last year I went from owning a 5000 square foot home, to moving into a much more manageable 1950 square foot space. I realized that we were barely “living” in most of the space in our previous home. I spent the majority of time in the kitchen and living room, and my two teens had to be bribed out of their bedrooms with food or money. Why was I paying a huge mortgage and buying furniture and decor to fill up a space that we weren’t even using? I must have had 25 garage sales to cut down my possessions just by half. When we sold, I donated truckloads of furniture, clothing, old TV’s, and random belongings that we no longer needed or were just taking up space. Seeing day-to-day clutter when you wake up in the morning or when you come home from work can add to your mental stress. Physical clutter leads to mental clutter. Having a clean home gives me peace of mind. When I wake up in the morning and know that my house is not cluttered, I can relax and enjoy my home instead of worrying about all the work I need to do.
Starting this process can feel like a daunting task. My advice is to set small goals and start one room or space at a time.
I have put together a list of 12 tips that helped me get started.
- Start with Clothing. Get rid of everything that you do not wear. DONATE IT. It is easier to do when you feel like you are helping others. If the clothing is in great condition, then sell it through a consignment store or online on Facebook bidding sites or Ebay. You would be amazed at how much money you can make by selling clothing online. Use the money that you make off the sale of the clothing to save for a vacation, or your daily Starbucks. Incentive works.
- Make a Daily Commitment for the First Month. Even if it is just 15 minutes a day. After a week you will have finished a bedroom, bathroom, closet, or part of the garage. If you put aside an hour a day for a couple of weeks, I bet you can finish the whole house.
- Make a Give Away Box– When friends and family come by have them go through your box. This is something you can do on a continual basis. Whatever is left at the end of each month, either sell or donate. This is a must. If you are someone who really struggles (maybe a closet hoarder perhaps?) then you can have a “maybe” box. Only for the first month though. After the first month you will be a pro and be ready to be a minimalist.
- No Turning Back. Once you have made the decision to get rid of something, donate it right away. Remember that anything left in the “give-away box at the end of the month is gone.
- Make Quick Decisions. Pick up an item, and make a decision: trash, give away, sell or keep. Don’t put it back in the pile. Do this with the entire pile, and soon, you’ll be done.
- Don’t Fool Yourself. We all have things that we know we won’t ever use. The time has come to get rid of it. Give it to someone else who knows they don’t really need it, but will take it anyways lol. After a year forward them this blog and they can pass it on to someone else.
- Piles of Papers. OK honestly this was the hardest one for me. I used to keep every piece of mail, every magazine, all of my kids art work. Keep a few pieces of the art work from each school year and the rest… toss it! The only exception is with tax-related documents, which should be kept for seven years, and other important documents like warranties, birth and death and marriage certificates, insurance, wills, and other important documents like that. Everything else should go.
- Dollar Stores are Amazing for Storage Containers. If you are from Canada then you already know that Dollarama is the place to go. You can buy all sorts of containers, storage boxes, and other items to help organize your items. They even have the vacuum storage bags for any out of season clothing. (I store mine under my bed).
- Only One “Junk Drawer” Allowed. Junk drawers are clutter creators and they reinforce bad habits. If you must have a junk drawer or drawer for miscellaneous stuff, limit yourself to one such drawer and make cleaning it out a monthly chore.
- Don’t Let Your Laundry Pile Up. Depending on the size of your family. There is only 3 of us, but I swear sometimes that a football team lives here. Trust me when I say that doing a load or two of laundry every single day keeps your chore list down. Every bedroom should have a hamper. Clothes should be immediately folded, placed in a basket and then taken and put away when they are finished.
- Trash Bins. Keep a trash can in every major living area of the house – each bathroom, the living room, each bedroom. Empty them daily into an outside waste bin. Don’t forget garbage pickup day. Keep it marked on your calendar.
- Think About Your Purchases. If you are shopping and unsure about needing something, then you probably don’t. Just because something is on sale does not mean you need to buy it. If you aren’t sure and there is a good chance it will collect dust, then walk away.
Woo Hoo you’re done! Now you can celebrate your new organized life with a dinner out, a party to show off your new organized digs, or just sleeping in on the weekend because you don’t have tonnes of chores to do. These are just a few tips that helped me and I hope they will help you too.