Getting rid of the clutter in your home has a few practical benefits. For example, a house with less clutter is easier to clean. Some people also find that clear spaces can be quite calming. Moreover, by actually enjoying the clean and organized spaces you’ve created for yourself, you won’t feel the need to buy more unnecessary things to put in your home anymore, which means more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
Decluttering can also improve your home aesthetically. Open spaces, clean lines and simple designs are currently trending, so getting rid of a few things could slightly update the style of your home. It could even be as easy as removing a few decorative knickknacks from the surfaces of your furniture or taking down a few family photos or paintings from your walls.
After living in a clutter-free space for a little while, you’ll start to realize many of the material possessions that were cluttering your spaces weren’t really giving you any joy or contentment. You might not even remember a lot of the things you got rid of. Understanding that your contentment is not dependent on the things you own can also feel quite liberating.
All these benefits might seem quite appealing. However, decluttering your home can sometimes be quite a daunting task, especially if you have not one, but two or three storage rooms or closets in your house that have 10 years worth of accumulated clutter in them.
This is why I made this four-step guide to make decluttering a little easier:
1. Find a small area to declutter. It could even just be a drawer or the surface of a piece of furniture. By focusing on small spaces you’ll be able to go through your items more efficiently. If you decide to tackle a whole room, you might get side-tracked and work on other areas in the room and forget about the area you were initially working on. If you try to declutter larger spaces, you might also be tempted to do a more superficial job and leave things more or less as they are because the task is simply too big. By focusing on smaller areas, you won’t be discouraged and going through your items one by one won’t seem too overwhelming.
2. Ask yourself these two fundamental questions for each object (or group of objects of the same type) in your decluttering area. The first question is the following: “Is this object truly useful to me?” Does this item serve any important purpose? Do you use this item on a weekly, monthly or even yearly basis? If not, then answer to this question is probably “no”. If the object does serve an important purpose, then you can keep the object if you want. The next question you need to ask yourself if the answer to the first question is “no” is: “Does this item hold any sentimental value?” This question can sometimes be difficult to answer. In my post about sentimental items, I say that you shouldn’t keep more than 6 or 7 sentimental items. Obviously, that rule is not set in stone. I just found that number works well for me. You may want to keep 10 or 15 sentimental items. It’s really up to you. I think sentimental items are important, but you should also realize that if you keep too many, you’ll find yourself living in the past. Therefore, even if the answer to this second question is “yes”, it might still be wiser to get rid of the object, especially if you already have quite a few sentimental items that you would like to keep. To sum up, if the answer to both questions is “no”, then you should get rid you the item. If the answer to the first question is “yes”, then you can keep the item. If the answer to the first question is “no”, then move on to the second one. If the answer to the second question is “yes”, make sure you are within the limit of sentimental items you set for yourself. Sometimes, you might even have to choose between sentimental items so you don’t find yourself keeping too many of them. I also made this little flow chart to summarize this step:
3. Sort it out. Put the objects you want to keep in their designated places if they are out-of-place. If they don’t have a designated place, find one for them. Don’t just reorganize for the sake or reorganizing though. If a particular item has been in a spot for a long time, even if it is an odd place to put it in, you can also just leave it there. Again, it’s really up to you. If you are a little forgetful, taking note of the objects and where you are moving them also wouldn’t be a bad idea. However, since you are decluttering, your main priority should be getting stuff out of your home. You can either put the objects you no longer want to keep in boxes and give them to a charitable organization that accepts donations or you could sell them on sites such as Craigslist, Kijiji or Ebay. Also, keep your trash can and your recycle bin handy. I’m sure you’ll find some garbage or some recyclable material while you are decluttering. Lastly, there might be some items that you are still on the fence about. I would suggest putting them in a box labelled “not sure”, “maybe items” or whatever else you want to label it as. You would then store the box somewhere and leave it there for three months. Once the three months have gone by, you might have an easier time letting go of the objects that you were still slightly attached to. During that period, you could have also realized that some objects in that box are indeed still useful for you. This method is actually just another variation of Courtney Carver’s just in case box. The principle is the same, but she has a more interesting twist to it.
4. Repeat. By doing small chunks of decluttering on a regular basis, even every week or two, you’ll quickly start to see some progress. The clear spaces you are creating might even motivate you declutter more frequently and get rid of more stuff than you expected. You can also spend a whole weekend, or even a whole week sorting through your things if you desire. No matter how often or for how long you choose to declutter, as long as you repeat the three steps mentioned above for each small area of your home, you’ll be able to thoroughly and efficiently declutter your dwelling.