Decluttering your life goes beyond having an organized and neat home, although that is a big part of it. Decluttering can also become important to your overall well-being by helping you make room for what really matters to you, reducing stress, and helping you feel in control.
Tackling the clutter in your home may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to go full Marie Kondo to make a difference. You can start the decluttering process with small steps, doing a little at a time.
According to Dave Ramsey, “For decluttering to have its full effect, though, you have to first believe that filling your life with stuff—material items—will never actually bring true fulfillment. Once you believe that, you’ll be on your way to living with a minimalist attitude, no matter how much (or how little) you end up decluttering.”
If you’re ready to begin decluttering, here are some ways to get started with decluttering both your home and your life.
Declutter Your Home
At first, it may seem like a daunting task, but in order to effectively declutter your house, you’ll have to tackle your messes and take everything out in order to take inventory of what you want to keep, toss, or store.
First, start with one room and empty everything out of drawers, closets, and any other places clutter may be lurking. Then, lay it all out on a large towel or sheet to take inventory of what you have. Start to separate your items into three distinct piles: keep, toss, or store. If you have old files and papers collecting in your home office, modify your piles into these categories: file, to do, and trash.
- Keep: Keep only the things that still serve a purpose for you, or to quote organization expert, Marie Kondo, “things that bring you joy.” Another good rule of thumb, especially for clothing, is that if you have not worn it or used it in a year, get rid of it. Those jeans that are two sizes smaller aren’t motivating you to lose the weight; they’re just taking up valuable space. Same for that dress you wore one time to a dinner two years ago. You get the gist; look at each item individually and really consider which pile to place it into.
- Toss: Sometimes the decision to throw out an item will be obvious, such as jeans that no longer fit, a shirt with holes in it, or makeup that’s gone bad. With other items, you may think, “I might wear that someday.” Don’t get caught in that train of thought, as the “someday” items are what is cluttering up your space.
- Store: There will be some items that hold sentimental value for you. Things such as your child’s first blanket or your wedding veil. These types of items can, of course, be kept and stored. But don’t be too quick to put something into the store pile, or you’ll end up not parting with anything. Only store those items that truly hold sentimental value or that you may need in the future.
Continue this process with every room in your home. Tackle the piles of toys, CDs, DVDs, books, and other items, and place them into the three piles. Once you have a full “toss” pile, you can decide if you want to donate items or if any items are worth selling. Don’t let the toss pile sit too long in your basement or garage, because then it just becomes more clutter. Go ahead and donate or sell items as soon as possible to truly get rid of the clutter once and for all.
Declutter Your Life
Decluttering the physical stuff in your life is the easy part compared to decluttering your life, but this step is crucial to your mental health and overall well being.
- Streamline Your Commitments: Between work, family, school, sports, hobbies, and social commitments, our lives seem to be scheduled 24/7. To declutter your schedule, take a look at all of your commitments and write them all down. Seeing all of it in writing can help you realize how much you are really doing and can help you decide which commitments you must keep, which you want to keep, and which ones you can let go. To make more time for the things that you truly want to do and truly love, you will need to learn to say no more often and not feel guilty about it.
- Restructure Your Routines: We all have daily and weekly obligations and chores, but most of us just do them without any routine or structure. Write down your daily and weekly tasks and obligations, and then create a schedule, such as doing your laundry all in one day instead of several times a week, cleaning the house on a certain day, and so on. Having a daily or weekly routine can bring a sense of order to your life and help reduce the stress you may feel about getting everything done.
- Declutter Your Relationships: With the hectic schedules that most adults have today, it leaves little time for friendships and relationships. That’s why it’s important to really focus on those relationships that truly matter. If there are friends or others in your life who are negative and drain your energy, it’s time to let them go. Place more emphasis on spending your time with people who make you feel happy and loved, and help you grow. This can be true for friends on social media as well!
Once you’ve decluttered, be aware of clutter trying to creep back into your life. Keep on top of it so it doesn’t take over your life again. You’ll not only have a tidier home, but a less stressful life.