Most everyone needs to declutter. Clutter has been scientifically proven to contribute to anxiety, depression, allergies, asthma, and even weight gain. After a while, we often stop seeing our clutter, but we don’t stop feeling it.
Signs You Need to Declutter
If you find yourself keeping things you haven’t used in over a year, keeping piles of reading materials to eventually go through, or moving a box you never unpacked with the last move, you probably need to declutter your home or office. Here are some other signs you need to declutter:
- Holding on to things just in case you might need them some day.
- Buying things you already own because you forgot you had it or couldn’t find it.
- Having a hard time completing tasks due to disorganization or a lack of space.
- Buying a lot of takeout because your kitchen doesn’t feel like a usable space.
- Your nice things are hidden behind piles of stuff.
- There’s no room in your garage for your car.
How to Declutter the Easy Way
The idea of decluttering might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You just need to start. Even 5 minutes a day will get you to your goal, as long as you’re not adding to the clutter as you’re dealing with it. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Start small and build
Sort through one shelf or drawer and call it a day. Giving yourself a win, and experiencing the freedom that decluttering provides will help built the momentum to eventually tackle larger projects.
Schedule your decluttering
Put time on your calendar or add decluttering into your daily routine. For example, you can commit to spending 10 minutes on it every day when you get home from work. Or, sort one small space every night after dinner. Do not set aside an entire weekend to sort your whole house. It’s too overwhelming and likely won’t end up completed.
Fill one bag
If you’re sorting stacks of paper or clearing a desk, fill a recycle bag then move on with your day. If you’re going through clothes, fill a bag or box with donations. You can do the same with bookshelves, linen closets, kitchen drawers, you get the idea. Just do a bag/box per day until your done.
Ask yourself questions
When is the last time I used this item? How likely am I to get around to this project? Will I ever read this old magazine? How does this object make me feel? What purpose does this serve in my life? Is it worth the space it takes? How hard would it be to replace? Is it even mine (does it belong to an adult child or an ex)?
Finish the job
It can be so easy to pack up a bag for donating, stick it in a closet, and forget about it. Or, put everything you don’t want in one place, instead of sorting it out. Do yourself a favor and throw out the trash, donate the reusable goods, and sort the recycling. If you don’t get it all the way out of your house, it’s still clutter.
How to Stay Clutter-Free
Once your done with decluttering, it can be all too easy to let it build up again. Don’t! Instead, put some simple processes in place to keep the clutter at bay. For example:
- Deal with mail when you receive it. Or, set up an in/out system.
- When you buy a new piece of clothing, donate an old one.
- Use your local library instead of acquiring new books and movies.
- If holidays mean more stuff in your house, make space first. I always had my kids sort through their rooms and donate toys they no longer play with before the inevitable Christmas deluge.
- Before making purchases, ask yourself if you’re really going to use it.
- Deal with stuff in the moment. Hang up your jacket. Put your dish in the dishwasher.
For me, keeping a clutter-free house makes for a clutter-free mind. It’s so much easier for me to think clearly in a clutter-free environment. Not to mention the lack of dusty piles making it easier to breathe. I urge you to just pick a space and start!
This post is part of a series following the 100-day gong practice developed by Pedram Shojai for The Art of Stopping Time. If you would like to read other posts in the series, click here. If you would like to receive emails following the series from the beginning, click here.