So many things, so little time! That’s how I felt when I made the decision to declutter my home. It was my first step toward living a more minimal life. I wanted to free myself of the useless, joyless items in my home so that I could free up my time and energy. It may seem odd to you – “How does getting rid of stuff give you freedom” – but it really works! I spent the better part of a Saturday afternoon just on my bedroom closet and walked away with 3 garbage bags and 4 boxes full of stuff I wanted to give away. Now I have more room in my closet, I have more clarity with my wardrobe and there’s less stuff around to create that cluttered feeling. I’ve been slowly progressing through the house, one room at a time to rid our home of useless items.
For some people the idea of decluttering overwhelms them with fear or stress, they don’t know where to start, they don’t know how long it will take and they’re not sure they’re completely bought in. I reacted differently – the moment I decided to declutter I instantly became overwhelmed by the desire to throw everything away. Right now. I wanted it ALL GONE.
In reality, that wasn’t reasonable for my situation. First of all, not all of the stuff in my house belongs to me. My husband is generally agreeable to the concept of decluttering but anything that isn’t entirely “mine” should be run by him. Honestly, he doesn’t care most of the time but I always ask because every so often we disagree about an item’s value. My kids are another challenge, they’re old enough to notice if something goes missing so decluttering their masses of toys has to happen quietly, a little bit each day. At times they catch me putting something of theirs out on the porch to be picked up by someone in the Buy Nothing group. I take the time to explain why the item is no longer needed and tell them about the other little boy or girl that is now going to get to use the item. I also want to be intentional about how I get rid of items – I could take everything to the dump or the local charity store but in most cases I feel best gifting to my local Buy Nothing Group. This takes time but it’s worth it to me to contribute to my community.
It’s only been a few weeks but I’ve already learned a lot. First and foremost is that you must PACE YOURSELF. Unless you are single and motivated, or married and your spouse is completely on board with a major purge, you will be best served by attacking the clutter one step at a time. It might be 15 minutes per day or an entire Saturday spent on a single room.
There are various approaches to tackling the task of decluttering. If you’re not sure where to start, I’ve prepared a round-up of my favorite resources on the topic:
- Let’s Play a Minimalism Game: A 30-day challenge to ease yourself into the habit of decluttering. Some people have actually found it easier to do a reverse challenge by starting with 30 items on the first day and decreasing each day from there.
- 18 Five-Minute Decluttering Tips to Start Conquering Your Mess: You can use these tips to slowly declutter your life or apply them after a major purge as a way to maintain your new, simpler lifestyle.
- The Packing Party: The Minimalists guide you through the process of packing every possession you own into boxes. When you need an item, you unpack it from the box. After a certain amount of time passes, you get rid of any items that are still remaining in the boxes.
- 40 Bags in 40 Days: This challenge is more aggressive than most with the goal being to rid yourself of one bag of stuff each day. Look for the follow on posts that offer more advice for meeting the challenge.
- Project 333: Courtney Carver has written an entire blog series on the subject of creating what is commonly known as a “capsule wardrobe”.
- 101 Things to Get Rid of Without Feeling Regret: The title says it all. This is a great guide if you’re not sure where to start.
- Make Your Declutter Last: Tips to help keep you from falling back into old habits.
Remember, it took a long time to accumulate all the extra stuff, it may also take some time to rid yourself of it. Good luck!