Declutter Your Home (and Your Mind) With These 6 Simple Tricks

Minimize your stuff and maximize your happiness with these downsizing tips.

What Is Clutter?

Here’s a meta definition for you - Clutter is a lot of things. It can be a pile of things that need to be sorted or put in their own space. It can be stuff we don’t need, stuff we don’t want, belongings that don’t have their own space or things that haven’t been put back. But mostly, when we have a cluttered home, we have a place that is full of things that we either haven’t had time to sort, or don’t know what to do with.

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Why Should I Declutter?

Whether you’re decluttering a single space or tackling your whole home, there are a ton of good reasons to downsize your stuff and make your space simpler. The most obvious one might be, that when you have less stuff, you have less to clean. That means you can spend less time dusting your collectibles and more time enjoying your home.

Having fewer items strewn around the house also means having less stress! Fewer piles of miscellaneous objects and more space to walk, sit or work will take away from the kind of visual stress that can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus.

Not only will a clean space help put you at ease, it’ll give your room new life. Once you’ve organized your space, you just might discover that there was a beautiful room under all those unread magazines and old clothes.

Tip 1 - Remember, Decluttering Doesn’t Happen In A Day

Before you start downsizing and reorganizing all your stuff, it’s important to set some realistic goals. You’re not going to declutter your entire house in a day - in fact you’re unlikely to even finish a whole room at once. If you’re doing it right, decluttering is a process that will take you time, so decide on a game-plan that will allow you to keep up a steady pace without getting overwhelmed. Our motto on simplifying a home is, “No hurry, no pause”. If you declutter room-by-room, closet-by-closet, you’ll find yourself with the simple, organized home you never knew you lost.

Tip 2 - This Isn’t The Purge - Not Everything Needs to be Downsized

Now isn’t the time to get extreme! The temptation when we start simplifying our space is to make big, bold choices, but chances are that you will see a huge improvement in your home if you simply choose to get rid of three big categories of objects:

  • Things that are broken - This is pretty self explanatory, but you’ve probably got items that broke without you realizing it, or things that you’ve been meaning to glue,sew,refinish, or reupholster. Now’s the time to admit that you aren’t going to get around to fixing all those broken things, and get rid of them.
  • Things you don’t use - We always make excuses for keeping all kinds of stuff, “Just in case”. Just in case we need to host a dinner party, just in case we lose 15 pounds, just in case we ever get a dog. You’ll find there are a lot of things in your house that you’ve been keeping for a situation that hasn’t ever happened. A good rule of thumb is that if you haven’t needed something in a year, you probably don’t need it in your house. Put those things on your declutter pile and move on.
  • Things that are duplicates - We’ve all got that thing in our house that we’ve bought twice, and gifts that we were given that we already had. Take a look at everything you have two of, pick your favorite, and say a fond farewell to the extra one. No one really needs two toasters. Trust us.

Tip 3 - Learn To Let Go Of Things With Sentimental Value

This might be the toughest tip to wrestle with, but there are a lot of things we hold on to for sentimental reasons that we would be happier letting go of. For parents, that might be boxes of crude preschool artwork from your children. It might be bowling trophies, souvenir pint glasses, or slow-pitch softball jerseys - the list goes on. While they’re sure to remind us of a time or experience we treasure, it's important to remember that they’re not the only way we can look back on fond memories. Pictures take up a lot less space than that taxidermied deer on the wall.

Tip 4 - Clutter Belongs in Only Four Categories

Now that you’ve gone through everything in one of your spaces, let’s talk about the four ways to declutter your things.

  1. Keep the things that you use and the things that have made you happy in the last year.
  2. Donate the things that you don’t use/wear/display. A good rule of thumb is that if you could still use it but you don’t, try to give it to someone else who can.
  3. Trash the items that can’t be used by anyone else, or wouldn’t be of interest to anyone but you. Broken items, old receipts and maybe that taxidermied deer we just talked about.
  4. Sell* the stuff that is worth the trouble. We put an asterisk next to this one because it always takes extra effort to try and price, list and sell your stuff, and if you’re not careful, you could end up with a whole new pile of things you’ve been meaning to sell. This is an easy path back to a cluttered house.

Tip 5 - Everything In Your Home Should Have A Home

Having donated, trashed or sold all the clutter in your home, you should be done, right? Sorry - but you still need to make sure that everything has a place in your space. That means that kitchen counters aren’t covered with appliances and workspaces aren’t overflowing with craft materials or notebooks. Use some of the money you got from donating or selling your things to get some drawers or tupperware to keep your place tiddy.

Tip 6 - Clean Up After Decluttering

Finally, give your space that deep clean it’s been waiting for. Now that you don’t need to navigate piles of clothes or memorabilia without a home, you can put your Swiffer 360 Duster and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser’s to good use. It’ll take a bit of elbow grease to get rid of the dust and grime that had built up around your old clutter, but by the time you’re done, you’ll be living a cleaner, happier, less cluttered life.

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