Top Tips For Getting Started on the Decluttering Journey

Are you keen to sort your house out but don’t know where to start? Here are a few key tips to get you started.

Don’t start with your most sentimental possessions. We all have different things that we attach sentimental value to, whether it’s clothing, childhood possessions, things passed on by family, travel souvenirs, or our kids’ old baby clothes. Whatever those things are for you, don’t start there! That’s the hard stuff.

Don’t start in your biggest area of chaos (like the garage, kids room, or wherever you have the most junk). It’s worth reminding yourself that decluttering is hard, tiring work. Every single item you handle involves a decision. Do I keep this, throw it out, give it away, sell it? Once you’ve done that several dozen times, your brain will be pretty shattered. If you start with the biggest room, you might lose motivation before you’re anywhere near the finish line.

A great place to start is the bathroom, because you’re unlikely to be sentimentally attached to expired cosmetics. And yes, it may seem wasteful to throw out a whole lot of half used or unused expired products, but the process will likely motivate you to be more mindful of future purchases, to only buy what you truly need and will use, and to check whether you already own something before buying another one. Additionally, bathrooms are generally not too big, so you can actually make it to that finish line. And the sense of satisfaction you’ll get from tackling one room may just spring board you into taking on the rest of the house.

Schedule decluttering time. Feel like you don’t have time? Make time! Do you manage to find time to check your emails? Instagram? Facebook? If you’re serious about decluttering, schedule it in to your diary one evening a week. And just do it. Tackle one small project at a time, and you’ll get there! You’ll feel lighter and liberated by the new sense of order, space and calm. It’s so worth it.

Decluttering Tips

What’s your biggest stumbling block to getting started?

How to Declutter: Six Words to Live by For Simplifying Your Life 

Decluttering Tips

Decluttering Tips

There are six key words that you need to know, and live by, in order to live in a simple, uncluttered home.

Throw stuff out. Buy less stuff.

It’s as simple (and as difficult) as that.

To elaborate on the environmentally irresponsible sounding “throw stuff out”, by this I really mean get the stuff out of your house. Give it away, sell it, or throw out the stuff that’s really at the end of it’s useful life. But just get it out of your house.

As a child, I used to love organising my stuff. I’d spend hours sorting the things in my cupboards and drawers. But the minute I’d sorted it, it got messy again. The fatal flaw? I had too much stuff. You can’t organise excess, because it will always get the better of you.

So phase one, on any decluttering journey, is to learn to be ruthless about getting rid of stuff. The more you get rid of, the easier it becomes to stay on top of it. Less stuff means less to organise. Less to be redistributed around the house by the small people. Less to jam into cupboards only to have it explode out the next time you open the door. Less to stress about. Less to hunt for.

Less is best.

Ok, so what about when you’ve thrown stuff out? You’ve been as ruthless as you can in phase one. What then?

You have to change your buying habits. You need to learn to buy and accumulate less. Otherwise you’ll end up right back where you started.

How do you learn to buy less?

  • Take stock of how you feel with less stuff in the house. Feel good? So don’t go buy more and end up back where you started!
  • Be critical of every purchase you make. Ask yourself, “Do I truly need this? Do I really love it?”
  • Only go shopping when you need a specific item. Go with a list.
  • Don’t go anywhere near $2 shops, or any bargain shops, especially if you’re tempted by a “deal”. Is it a deal if it adds to your clutter and causes you a headache down the line, when you’re trying to manage all these “deals”?
  • Read. If you shop because you’re bored, why not consume something beneficial, like great literature, rather than consuming more stuff?
  • Don’t watch TV. Less advertising will mean less desire for stuff you don’t want or need.
  • Make stuff yourself. If you make something, you will appreciate it far more than something you bought for $2.
  • Educate yourself on the true cost to the planet and your fellow human beings of your spending habits. Watch this animation (it’s quite old but still very relevant), or this film. We are trashing the planet with our mindless consumption, and we have a responsibility to be mindful, ethical citizens with our purchases.
  • Learn to sit with discomfort. If you avoid the urge to shop every time you feel bored, or lonely, you’ll have the chance to get in tune with some of the feelings that you’re trying to escape from by shopping.

Happy simplifying 🙂

The Cost of Clutter: Why Decluttering is Essential in the 21st Century

Why Decluttering is Essential in the 21st Centurl

Why do we need to edit our stuff?

We live in a world of excess. We’re all buying too much stuff too much of the time. Stuff is cheap and available these days, so we have a lot of it.

One big stumbling block to decluttering is to see it as wasteful; throwing away perfectly good things that you’ve spent money on. We think we’re being resourceful by saving everything. I used to think like that.

In the 1950s, you didn’t necessarily need to learn to declutter; buying things was pretty expensive, and there just wasn’t so much stuff available to buy. So if you were a bit of a hoarder it wouldn’t turn your house into a shambles. It was resourceful to keep, reuse and recycle everything. But unfortunately that virtue of resourcefulness has in many ways become a vice in the 21st century.

Why Decluttering is Essential in the 21st Centurl

Our clutter costs us. Keeping everything doesn’t save us money, it actually costs us. 

What Are The Costs of Clutter?

Space: The more you have the more space you need. The size of our houses has doubled in the last 50 years, yet we still don’t have room to fit everything in our homes. Storage container shops, and off-site storage facilities are booming. Many of us have double garages but not a single car parked in them. It’s the world gone mad! Honestly, you don’t need all the stuff. Space and room to breathe is a beautiful thing.

Time: Excess clutter means more time spent cleaning, tidying, organising, sorting, and hunting for things. Own less, and you’ll be able to find and manage what you have. And you’ll have more time to do the more important things in life.

Money: Aside from the money spent buying an excessive amount of things, you’ll spend more on buying new storage containers and shelving to store your stuff. And possibly even a storage unit to store all the excess. You’ll spend more on ongoing maintenance, cleaning, repairs, insurance premiums. And you may feel the need to buy a bigger house to contain it all. Why not just get rid of the stuff and save your money for far more worthy, life giving pursuits?

Mental energy: Too much stuff leads to time spent stressing about your stuff, feeling overwhelmed by mess, feeling guilty about things you’ve bought that you don’t like/use/need. Own less, you’ll stress less. Simple as that. Really.

It keeps us from living in the present: As I wrote about here, our clutter distracts us, and pulls us away from the present. And essentially if we live lives of distraction, our clutter ultimately costs us the experience of a life lived fully alive.

So if you’re struggling to part with an item that cost you a lot, consider the ongoing price you pay, by keeping it. Why not cut your losses and experience the benefits of owning less? It’s totally worth it.

Decluttering and Mindfulness: How Getting Rid of Stuff Can Help You Live More Mindfully

Decluttering as Mindfulness Practice

We live in houses crammed with stuff. And most of us hang on to far more stuff than we need. Or even want. So much stuff that distracts us, overwhelms us, stresses us out and takes us away from the present.

So what is mindfulness, and what does getting rid of stuff have to do with it?

Mindfulness is simply the practice of bringing your full focus and attention to the present moment. The practice has been around for centuries, and has been practiced in its various forms by all the major religions. So why has it enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent times?

We are living such distracted, plugged-in-but-tuned-out lives, we’ve lost touch with our ability to be still, to sit in silence, to do nothing. For many of us, mindless distraction is at the tip of our fingers, at all times. But in the midst of this distractedness, we find ourselves craving stillness, singularity of focus. Mindful appreciation of the present moment.

Anuschka of Into Mind says:

“The state of our living space also tends to be a pretty accurate representation of the state of our mind. Psychological research has shown time and time again how physical clutter overloads our senses and stresses us out. We need a nice, clutter-free environment in order to feel rested, calm and content.”

Decluttering as Mindfulness Practice

Our stuff pulls us in all directions, and prevents us from living more mindfully in the present. I’ve identified three main selves that our stuff pulls us towards:

Our past self

If you’re sentimental, you’re probably being drawn into this self by your stuff a lot. Those things that were once important or special to you, or that you once loved, and once served a purpose. But do you love them now? Are they serving a purpose now? We can of course make space for a few keepsakes and special memories, just not a houseful of them. A very small handful of the most special things, things that you still love now. Like an old tea set from your Granny, that you still use. Things shut away in boxes tend to burden us, and pull us into the past.

Our future self

It’s far too easy to use the line “I might like (or need) this again one day”, but again, we can end up with a whole house load of stuff that we are hanging onto, “just incase”. It’s weighing you down. It’s costing you. Give yourself permission to let those things go, and live freer and lighter for it. And make peace with the fact that if you need that thing again, go buy it. The benefits of living with less FAR outweigh the cost of replacing the odd thing that you discover you need again after all.

Our imagined self

How many of us hang on to things because we thought we were a certain type of person but aren’t? Did you imagine yourself as the snowboarding type but it turns out you aren’t? Or the type that would wear 6 inch heels everyday, but they’re killing your back and they’re just not “you”? Be honest with yourself about which things are really serving you, and cull the rest.

The more we clear our houses of stuff that no longer serves a purpose in our lives, and keep only that which does, the more space we create to be present, and to get in touch with our true selves.

How about you: Do you find it hard to get rid of stuff? Which self do you identify with the most?