What is clutter?
The description “clutter” will mean different things to different people. To me, clutter is anything that does not serve a purpose. It’s ‘stuff’ that doesn’t add meaningful value and doesn’t have a designated place in my house.
People define clutter as different things. Some folks love an empty home. Some people like sentimental items scattered and tucked into every nook possible. It’s important to find the right balance for you. Minimalism and being a minimalist myself, I love to have a clutter-free home.
Why declutter? We, humans, love to accumulate things. From sentimental gifts to tucked away bank statements from 10 years ago. Yes, I had house moving boxes untouched for close to 5 years.
Is clutter meaningful? Does it add value or is it causing more stress? Check out some of the benefits below.
So what are the benefits of a clutter-free home? For me, these are:
A clean and tidy home
What’s not to like about cleaning your house in record time? It’ll not just be quicker to clean, but easier too! With less ‘stuff’ lying around, you’ll whizz through chores.
Each item adds specific value to your life
By decluttering your home, you’ve made an active decision to keep items that add value to your life. It’s important to be picky and understand what benefit(s) each item gives to you. Does this item make it easier to achieve something? Does this item serve a specific purpose for you?
Incorporating this mindset will help you make smart future purchase decisions.
Calm and less anxious mind
Cluttered environments can cause stress and anxiety. You are not constantly reminded that you ‘need to clean’ or ‘need to tidy up’. A room that houses meaningful items and not a mass of stuff helps with focus.
Financial independence and freedom
With clutter, financial ties and debt often follows. That monthly credit card statement reminding you of the items you once ‘needed’. Now only to be sitting, unused with diminishing value.
In October 2020, UK consumer credit card debt was a staggering £60.7 billion. This equates to £2,177 per household and this is just credit card debt (source). Think of all other lending options available to households and how much higher other debt figures are.
Top 10 tips for decluttering
So - let’s get started. Or, if you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the tips on how to declutter your home:
Jumping straight into a decluttering frenzy might be quite stressful. The prospect of decluttering a whole house or even just 1 room might be quite overwhelming. It’s best to start, slowly!
Timebox your efforts. Timeboxing is a practice of committing to a goal or tasks and sticking to a predetermined time limit.
Set aside 5-10 minutes a day and recycle, donate or perhaps throw away a few items.
Create a challenge
You may have heard of a few challenges that already exist, can you create your own? Challenges often build momentum! Perhaps you could commit to addressing 1 item a day in your room or house and see where you get to in 30 days?
Friends & partners
Can you get friends, family or your partner involved? Can you make the daunting next steps into a bit more of an enjoyable event? Your friends and family can’t decide for you, but at least you have some company. Perhaps some of your decisions will be challenged too!
‘The Minimalists’ talk about Packing Parties - this is definitely worth a read.
Sorting & planning!
Why not create a plan where you can strategically approach every room and audit the contents. Could you put together a checklist or even just a list of redundant typical items? Look out for future posts on typical items you can declutter.
Donate, recycle, sell or throw
Throwing away is quite wasteful and we should be mindful of the impact on our surroundings. Create piles or use boxes/bags to sort items as you declutter. You can separate by donations, recycling, sale and one for waste.
Try to minimise waste, items that you don’t want, are often wanted by others or can be responsibly recycled.
Identify high value items
You may have hidden value sitting in your home. Check the potential re-sale value of items and perhaps make some extra cash!
Can you part with something? Are you unsure if you may need an item in the future?
If you’re unsure, create a pile or use a box to house these items and set a 30-day timer. If you haven’t needed to grab that item from the pile or box after 30 days, donate, recycle, sell or throw it.
Max 12 months
Decisions are hard. Ask yourself: “Have I used this item in the last 12 months?”. If the answer is no, sort the item into the above categories (donate, recycle, sell or throw).
Remember: keeping something for “just in case” is a slippery slope.
Tackle your wardrobe
Your wardrobe may (or may not) be a great, contained place to start. For starters, you can recycle, donate and sell clothes. You’re likely taking on a specific area vs a whole room and you may find this easier to not get distracted. You likely have old, unused clothes, which can be a very quick decision on what you want to do with them!
For those items of clothing that are a little harder to decide on, here’s a couple of tips.
- Create a “to remove” pile.
- Create a wardrobe hanger organisation system.
- Sort hangers so that clothes you’re keeping hang in one direction. Do the opposite for the clothes you’re planning to get rid of.
Come back in 30 days! See which clothes are still hanging in the opposite direction. See which clothes are still in your “to remove” pile. You have some simple decisions to make!
Routines help with staying clutter-free. Post/mail often finds ways to pile up in your junk drawer, random kitchen cabinets or other places. Create a routine of recycling your post/mail as soon as you’ve read it. If your post/mail requires action, schedule time to action it soon or action it now. As soon as you’ve actioned or read your post/mail - recycle it (be mindful of any personal information).
Checkout: how to approach goals differently.
Use the above tips to kickstart your decluttering journey!
Additionally, perhaps you want to incorporate decluttering in the new year? Check out how to approach new year resolutions. Take a look at nosidebar.com and tips for simplifying in the new year.