In the past, whenever I felt like the state of my home was getting on top of me I’d sit and search for ways to tidy up, keep it clean and declutter.
And it is these internet searches that led me to take up minimalism ‘officially’ back in October.
And so I thought, let’s add to the number of resources out there and share my tips for starting out on the big declutter.
Tip #1: Just do it.
To echo the words of Nike, ‘Just do it’ folks. When I started clearing out I didn’t set aside a huge chunk of time, or label up boxes with ‘Bin’ ‘Keep’ ‘Donate’ ‘Maybe Keep’ ‘Store for a while’ etc. I just got stuck in.
For your first run round the house I think this is the most effective way. Even if you only fill a small carrier bag worth of stuff. Go around the house and get rid of those things that are easy decisions. The things you’ve kept because you just haven’t motivated yourself enough to clear them out.
For me these were things like the odd sock collection, home accessories that had been gifted to us but didn’t fit our style, candles that weren’t scented (I never light them unless they smell divine), magazines I’d kept to read again but never read again, unused photo frames. You get the idea, step one should be nice and simple and should feel good.
Tip #2: Hold yourself to account.
The next thing that I did was to make a list. I listed out the things I wanted to clear out by the end of the week. And then I worked on them whenever I had some free time through the week.
Having the goals in my mind helped challenge me to push myself that bit further and make sure I hit my target.
But then, I am quite competitive, especially with myself, so this might only work if you’re likeminded.
Tip #3: Keep track.
When it comes to clearing out your wardrobe it can be easy to lie to ourselves. That shirt you haven’t worn for a year is thought of as a favourite that you wear all the time! By keeping track you start to realise exactly which items never see the light of day.
There are a few ways you can do this.
- You could move all your clothing into a spare room or into under the bed storage or simply put them all in one set of drawers, then as you wear the item move it back to its usual home.
- You can try the coat hanger trick where you turn all the coat hangers in your wardrobe to face the other way and then as you wear an item you put the hanger back the right way round. Give it a couple of weeks/months (your choice) and then see which items are still on backward facing hangers.
- If you love a spreadsheet you could literally keep track. Input a description of each item of clothing and print it out. Stick the chart in your wardrobe or dressing area and each day put a mark against the items you’re wearing. This not only shows you which items you never wear but also which items you wear the most, allowing you to know where to reinvest in the future and define your own sense of style. This one’s also great for when you think you’ve downsized your wardrobe enough and want to see where you can remove further excess through getting rid of those things that are worn infrequently (usually when everything else is in the wash).
Tip #4: Know your fantasy self.
I spoke in my last post about how reading this blog post helped me to free myself of stack loads of craft supplies whilst enabling me to keep hold of the items I will really use in the future, meaning no regrets that scare you off future decluttering sprees. Sit yourself down with a cup of tea and be honest with yourself.
That crammed bookshelf – are you really an avid reader? Will you honestly re-read those books you’ve kept for years?
The craft cupboard – do you really enjoy all the varieties of craft activities that you’ve built up supplies for?
The baking supplies – do you really bake that often and that elaborately that you need that many trays, tins, piping bags and cookie cutters?
Have a think about the areas where you are holding onto things because one day you’ll take up that hobby or make time for that activity. Truthfully the things you truly love and enjoy you’ll already know and you’ll at least be taking 5 minutes out a week for them even if you are rushed off your feet! (If you’re not – are you really being honest?)
Tip #5: Make it fun.
Your decluttering efforts are helping you to build a home where you will feel more relaxed and at ease. It will free up time that used to be spent organising and tidying. You’ll have less things to clean and maintain and you’ll spend less time searching for misplaced items.
It sounds fun right?
But in order to get there, there is some serious work to be done. So make the work itself fun. Play some music, dance your way round, get your friends or family to declutter with you and connect with them about the shared experience, or even invite them round to help you with your big declutter.
Donating and gifting the items you’re clearing out can also be great fun. Donating to charity is a feel good activity. Or if you decide to throw out the dress your friend of sister has always loved, drop by with it and surprise them.
In my opinion making decluttering a positive experience is the most important factor in motivating yourself to keep going.
I hope these five tips help someone else out there to start on the road to simplicity as others did for me.
And to those you are already in the know – what kickstarted your decluttering ambitions?