These days there are so many things screaming for our attention and I can’t help but long for the days when things were less chaotic. Before you start to think that I am jumping off the deep end and throwing away all of my electronics, don’t worry, I’m not! (I wouldn’t be a very good blogger if I did that 😉 ) But I am re-evaluating all of the “stuff” that has taken up residence in our home. And goal #1 is to declutter as much as possible!
As I work on decluttering and reorganizing the systems in our home, I am inviting you to join me in the process! I am starting a new series on the blog called Simplify Your Life, and today we are kicking it off with Part 1: Ditch the Clutter. (Checkout Part 2: Let’s Get Organized next!)
There are a number of areas in our lives that we can let clutter build up: physical items in our homes, emotional or mental clutter in our minds, finances/debt cluttering our budget, and the list goes on. While all of those areas are important to address, for the sake of this series, we are going to focus on – you guessed it – our homes. Decluttering doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything you own and starting over. It doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be a complicated process. The hardest part is usually just getting started. So if you’re ready to simplify your life and ditch the clutter, start here.
Make a Plan
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan for ditching clutter. What works well for some, may not work for others. Come up with a plan that works for you. There is no way to properly declutter your home in a day – maybe you pick one drawer a day, or one room a week. Think about your schedule and be realistic. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:
- Daily: set a timer for 15 minutes and declutter as much as possible until the timer goes off.
- Once a week: break your home up into workable sections and pick one section a week to declutter
- Work towards a goal: fill up one box a day, or 2 boxes a week of items to discard. (Need a cute, but functional box to use? This jute tote is a favorite of mine! 🙂 )
Once you’ve come up with a plan, whatever that looks like for you, set a goal or deadline and write it down. Having a specific deadline to work towards will help you stay on task and keep you accountable. Make it fun! Choose a way to reward yourself when you reach your goal. It can be a small treat like a bowl of ice cream while you watch a favorite show, or a girl’s night out with friends! Whatever gets you excited!
3 Types of Clutter
Ok, so you’ve got your plan of action, you’ve written it down, and you have something fun planned to reward yourself when you reach your goal. As you start to work through your plan of ditching the clutter, consider the words of William Morris:
Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
The things in our home should earn their keep. Anything that isn’t bringing us joy or helping us out in our daily lives must go. I recently picked up the book Simple Matters by Erin Boyle and I highly recommend it! In the book, she helped me to get my mind around what to get rid of by breaking down the “extra stuff” into three categories: trash, redundancies, and unnecessaries.
GET THE LOOK
The ‘trash’ category doesn’t literally mean items that need to end up in a landfill. Rather, this category is more of the obvious items that are taking up space and need to be disposed of. Whether they need to be thrown away/recycled, donated, or sold, these items should be fairly easy to part with. Obvious trash could be things like old papers, receipts, magazines; worn/tattered clothing, half empty or expired products, mismatched socks, etc. Items that should be donated or sold include clothing you haven’t worn in over 6 months, samples you’ll never use, things that used to be useful, but are no longer (ie. old electronics, books, furniture, etc.).
This category will be harder for some than others. I have a tendency of erring on the side of “always be prepared” when it comes to having multiples of certain items. For example, if you were to come stay with us and forgot to pack your deodorant, have no fear! I have 10 extras! The idea of “just in case” is hard for me to let go of when it comes to simplifying my life. But, in all reality, the odds of actually hosting 10 guests who have all forgotten deodorant are pretty slim. I am working on retraining my brain so that I can live with less and avoid having drawers full of multiples “waiting” to be useful. If this sounds like you, consider getting rid of the redundancies and duplicates when sifting through your items.
For those of you who thought I was straight up crazy to have 10 extra deodorants, this category may be easier for you. But to give you some ideas of more common redundancies, here are some duplicates to consider getting rid of: clothing items that are similar (how many white T-shirts do you really need?), throw blankets, kitchen utensils, bedding sets, small appliances that do the same thing, decorative vases… You get the idea. As you’re tackling every closet, every drawer, every pile – look specifically for all of those things that you have more than one of, and simplify.
Acquiring unnecessary things, to me, is a symptom of the society we live in. Somewhere along the way, we start equating stuff with happiness, and happiness with stuff. But we all know that isn’t how it works, and that stuff is just that – stuff! Try to keep this mindset as you declutter your home. Things that once served a purposed don’t remain forever useful. Some examples of items that fall into the unnecessaries category are: things that used to be sentimental, bags you never use, books you haven’t read and have no plan to read, gifts you never used (or liked in the first place), knick-knacks that could be decor but are really just taking up space, freebies you never needed.
If you come across something sentimental or a family heirloom, ask yourself if it is useful or lovely? If it isn’t either of those consider keeping the memories and parting with the physical object. That’s what’s really important and necessary to keep a home free of clutter.” – Erin Boyle, Simple Matters.
GET THE LOOK
Some Helpful Tools
I hope those three categories helped get you thinking about which items in your home are simply taking up space. As you work through your home to ditch the clutter, think about whether those excess items are truly necessary to keep around.
Tip #1: If you come across things that you’re on the fence about, here’s what I suggest: put those items in a box and store it somewhere out of sight. After 30 days, revisit the box and if you haven’t used or missed those things, toss them out!
Tip #2: Most paper clutter can (and should) be eliminated by filing electronically and disposing of the physical documents. There’s an eBook all about how to “go paperless” that will change your life! We have implemented the strategies from Paperless Home in our own home and it has been SO freeing! Keep in mind, items that cannot be digitized: birth certificate, marriage license, passport, Social Security card, vehicle titles.
Use this FREE CHECKLIST to help you work through every nook & cranny of your home, leaving nothing untouched! Cross off the items as you go. Remember, sift through every item and determine if it falls into one of the above categories to help you decide what to toss and what to keep.
Use this FREE PRINTABLE as a quick reference for those items that are tugging on your heartstrings. Run through this list of questions to help determine if something deserves a place in your home.
GET THE LOOK
Happy decluttering! I hope you are as excited as I am to ditch the clutter and learn to live with less! Make sure to work your plan and give yourself grace. Acquiring all of that excess stuff didn’t happen overnight, so getting rid of it will take some time. Be sure to use the resources I linked if you’re feeling stuck! After you’re done cleaning out the clutter, be sure to read Part 2 of the Simplify Your Life series Let’s Get Organized!
Do you have any helpful decluttering tips? I’d love to read all about them in the comments below!