We decided more recently to sell the furniture in our home that was not being used. You know like those cute chairs in the entry way that no one ever sits on because they are too cute. The picture above is our living room. There was a time when it was much more cluttered and filled with things. It has been a process for us to clean out the rooms and sell off items, but I have loved every minutes of it.
We as consumerists are encouraged to fill our closets and garages with things. To save for the “just in case” or because of the memory attached to the item. There are literally football fields of storage units across the US that are filled with stuff not intended for moving.
We were no exception to this collection of items and from the time we moved into our first rental home, to the home we own now, we have been working towards getting to the bare bones and finding a space that is comfortable.
The accumulation of items and hoarding our nicks and nacks has been linked to high levels of stress and anxiety according to WebMD. Not only this, but the more things you have, the more time is spent moving, cleaning and getting around those things. Since I do not particularly love cleaning, the decluttering has been something I really enjoy.
It is important to mention that when I talk about hoarding here- I am talking about it in the sense of our need to collect items and have them fill spaces. Not the DSM mental condition of hoarding, which is something I cannot speak too.
In this post I will share some ways to get started if the piles are high, the best decluttering tips I have found, the easiest things to throw away now, and some of my decluttering goals for the future.
The Best Ways to Get Started when the Piles are High and Corners are Stuffed
Getting started can be one of the hardest things and can look daunting. Here are 3 easy ways to get started with decluttering.
1. Reduce One Day at a Time
Rome was not built in a day. It has taken us a long time to get to a bare bones set up. We also had set backs and dumb purchases- so be kind with yourself and take the time you need to start going through stuff. There are many challenges out there that are helpful for this like- Give one item away everyday for 30 days, or the 5 day Minimalism challenge that takes you from your purse to your junk drawer.
2. Choose one section at a time
Just like the tip above- with taking your time- also pick one area at a time so as not to get overwhelmed. I started with my car glove box and did not even look at the home at first.
3. Make some Money
Look at what larger items you can sell and make some money. This is always incentive to declutter! Offer Up, Next-door, and Facebook Marketplace are all easy places to sell your items and maybe put that in your emergency fund.
Tips and Tricks for Decluttering:
One day at a time, one section at a time and make some money! Here are some ways you can approach these three ways of getting started. Some of these ideas will work for you, but probably not all of them. So pick and choose for yourself.
Decide what is memory clutter and why you would actually keep it
- Memory clutter are objects we hold onto because they “hold” a memory. Yet, the object only reminds us of the moment or the person. In some cases this is worth keeping and in other it is not. Below Matt d’Avella, examines a way to get rid of memory clutter and revaluate this specific type of clutter.
Create a “Grab and Go” Place in the home.
- The purse, keys, kids soccer bag etc can end up all over the home and floor. Instead create a place by the door to store all grab and go stuff. This could be a small end table with a drawer or a long bench with some storage underneath.
Try the Numbers Game
- There are many of these out there, but one that I really love is the 33 Item Closet. This asks that you pair down your main wardrobe to 33 items including shoes and accessories- but not including pajamas and workout clothes.
- While making money on things can be great, consider giving away some items. I have done give away one item each day challenge for 30 days. It was a great way to connect with others and think about things I had that they could use and appreciate.
- I do not really care if people think this is tacky, because it really is not. Plus, if we are going to continue and survive as a society we are going to have to start re-using and this includes re-gifting. Just don’t give it back to the same person. 🙂
- Goa around the home and clear your surfaces. Try and make it so there are no more than 3 items on every surface. This means really examining what is laying out and causing visual distraction.
When in Doubt- Do the Cardboard Box Test
- Put your items you have that horrible gut feeling about loosing into a cardboard box. Put this out of sight like in the garage. If you have not touched these items in the month, then send it off to Goodwill or save it for your summer garage sale
Get rid of the Paper
- Paper and paper piles take up a significant amount of time and space. Try to reduce this by signing up online for all paperless options you can. Plus this saves a tree or two. Then sort the paper and throw it away as soon as possible. If you have a filing cabinet, maybe this can be the one of the places you start decluttering. (This is still on my list)
Take it to Charity
- Some items like beauty samples, cute clothes or like new bras feel like waste to throw away and cannot be sold at most garage sales. This when giving to charity, especially women’s shelters, teen programs and homeless shelters are the best choice. Many of these places are looking for consumables like the beauty samples.
Things You Can Get Rid of Now:
There are some things that we just do not need in the 21st century, or maybe things we never needed in the first place. Here are some things you can get rid of right now if you only have 20 minutes to dedicate to decluttering.
- Those leftover candle making supplies from your DIY Christmas gift days have dried out and need to go! Crafting supplies that are old or unused should hit the donation box.
- Chances are if you have not filled it yet, you will not ever. Empty picture frames are sad, send them to the Goodwill
- We literally had a “cord box” that was huge and sat in the guest room closet floor. Most of these cords were so old we had no idea who they belonged to- they had to go too.
- If Katherine Heigl can do it on 27 Dresses, you can too. You will not shorten and wear it again.
- If you have saved every homemade costume each year- these can add up and take up space leaving a trail of glitter and hot glue behind- get rid of them and consider using clothes you already have for a costume next year.
Socks without a mate
- The mate will not appear as magically as it disappeared. Get rid of them or wear mismatched like I do
- This should not go to charity, only good items should be given out. Expired makeup is full of bacteria that can cause your face to break out.
Last Years Holiday Cards
- There will be new ones every year. Recycle the old ones.
- Most recipes can be found online now. I say most. Do not get rid of your Grandma’s Secret Recipe, but maybe take a photo of it and get rid of the paper version.
- Again, another thing filling the cabinet when almost all of these can be found online
Mix Tapes, CDS and other old Electronics
- Unless you are an official collector it needs to go. There is no reason to keep it (even if it is memory clutter). Take a photo of it.
Lived in is OK
- The space does not always have to be pristine now will it be. You live in the space too, so a few things out of place is not a bad thing.
Minimalism is a Trend, but it doesn’t have to be
- Minimalism is definitely trendy right now. White walls and essential oils fill the pages of YouTube. However it does not have to only be a trend. The ideas of less stuff and less spendy and living instead of caring for our items are all ideals we hold to that are not trendy.
The Hardest Part
- The part people do not talk about is how hard it is to not fill the space with more things. Over time this may happen semi-naturally. However, the first several times we decluttered, the spaces were filled again in no time. It was really the mental awareness and shift that was the hardest part. Without this, we would be decluttering every single year, 10 times a year. Not buying and living minimally help to stop the declutter from creeping in again.