One of the simplest ways to increase our well-being is to declutter our lives. I hope that after reading this article you will go get rid of something you consider clutter. We’ve already talked about what clutter is, but for new lads, it’s always good to repeat.
Clutter is something we don’t want, need, or have no use for.
I believe we all fundamentally know what is good for us, and what is not. In the same way, we know that clutter in our lives prevents us from living the best life possible. But why do we still have clutter then? Why do we lack the motivation to remove it from our lives?
I believe the reason is that we have so much of it that it easily gets overwhelming. And sometimes we have so much of it that we don’t even know where to start – therefore it’s easier just to learn to ignore it.
But today I will give you the weapon to conquer this sneaky little enemy of our happiness and lasting content.
In order to get rid of clutter, it must leave the house. I know this sounds obvious, but I’ve seen people coming with creative ways to still keep stuff in the home. They will rearrange their stuff all day long, sort it, organize it, tidy it, justify it that everything they touch spark joy, and thousands of other creative ways just not to get rid of it. But it’s only when we reduce what we have, that we start to see benefits.
First, and most important:
The what, and how to is easy. We all know, instinctually, how to declutter. You can start small: room by room, drawer or closet, one thing at a time. Or you can go big: rent a dumpster and throw everything away. You can also take a more moderate approach: throw a packing party – pretend you’re moving and pack everything you have. Then for the next few weeks just unpack the items you really need.
No matter which method you choose to start the process, start with a question: “How might my life be better with less?” Once you have a real, honest talk with yourself, you will know the answer. The benefits you will experience after will be different for each of us. And that is okay. We’re all different, for some it may be improved health or relationships, for others financial freedom or freedom to travel the world.
Understanding the purpose of decluttering – the WHY – will help you with HOW and WHAT.
When you know your Why, we can focus more on what and how.
If there is a lot of clutter everywhere, it’s easy to fall into procrastination mode. But that’s where the 5-minute rule comes to the rescue.
Promise yourself that you’ll work on it just for 5 minutes. Declutter old receipts or magazines, trash your garbage, put that oversized sweater you never wear in a donation bin, remove expired food from the pantry, etc. There are thousands of little things you can declutter just by doing this short exercise for 5 minutes per room or per day.
If you use the 5-minute rule every day, pretty soon your whole life and home will be decluttered. The beauty of the 5-minute rule is that, no matter how unpleasant the task may be, you can often talk yourself into doing it for just 5 minutes.
And I’ve found that after the first 5 minutes, you’ll most likely feel like going a little longer just to finish what you started. If 5 minutes is enough and you start to feel overwhelmed stop and pick it up later or tomorrow. The important thing is just to do it for at least 5 minutes.
Sometimes is easier to just get messy and put all the stuff on the floor in the middle of the room. Put it in piles and then start going through it. The messiness of it all makes it easier to declutter – now the goal is to just get rid of that annoying pile as soon as possible.
This approach is not for everyone but is definitely effective.
Start with one thing. Then add two, or three, or X number of things. If you continue with this little practice, in a year you would declutter at least 365 things. If you remove more things, the number will increase accordingly. Attack your clutter every day and within a month you will see a difference.
Get 3 boxes and label them: trash, donate, and sell. Then take them with you to all the rooms in your home and place the items you want to get rid off in the following boxes accordingly to what you want to do with them.
Once filled with stuff put a donate box in the trunk of the car, and when you run errands next time drop it off in the donation center.
Take 30 minutes once per week/month and list all the things you want to sell from your sell box. Take good pictures, describe the items, and attach the price to them before publishing them on the web. Be aware of sunk cost, and put realistic value. (Your $1,500 three-year-old computer doesn’t have the same value to others as to you)
Empty trash box after each use.
Have a routine where every day, or weekend you go through the whole home with boxes in hand. You can make it easier by gamifying this routine. Attach a certain number of things for each box, and then try to fit the quota. Or try with limiting time, or to play against someone else – it can be your partner, kid, coworker, boss, enemy… Whatever suits your character best.
Choose a room, shelf, drawer, closet. Put on the music, prepare a bottle of water, and declutter this small area in one go. Looking at this one small area that is clean will nudge you to declutter the rest of your home.
You may have way more stuff than you really need, and the truth is, most of it you won’t ever use. I bet that 80% of it is just junk cluttering your home and life. Implement the rule: if you haven’t used it in the last 3-6-9-12 months, and you know you won’t be using it in the next 3-6-9-12 months, get rid of it. There is no place for unwanted and unneeded items in your home and life.
If you’re on the fence with some stuff, create a maybe box. If you think you might need something later, put it in the box, label it with a date, and put it in storage out of sight (closet, garage, attic). Most likely, you’ll never open that box again. If that’s the case, revisit a box after a couple of months, and then toss it or give it away.
Create a system to stop clutter before it enters your home. The easiest way to stop clutter from accumulating is at the store. The hardest way is once it already crossed the front door of your home. Ask hard questions before purchasing something, or getting it for free. You’ll never reach perfection, but if you have a plan, perhaps you can find ways to stop or at least reduce the clutter coming into your home.
This is actually a general rule in life: always celebrate your accomplishments – no matter how small they are. Even if you only declutter 1 item, that’s great. That’s one item less. Treat yourself to something. Or if you have decluttered a drawer – open it and admire its simplicity. Breathe and bask in your peacefulness.
A clean, simple, and peaceful home that is left after decluttering is more rewarding than most of us think. Not only will our lives become simpler and less challenging, but the benefits you experience cannot be bought with money.
Keep in mind that even after you simplify and declutter, you’ll need to come back (often) to revisit it and declutter a little more. It’s just part of the natural process.
Have some cool tips that we haven’t covered? Let me know in the comments down below.
Happy decluttering 😊
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