Recently I got more serious about decluttering in our home.
I guess I just reached the point where I was so tired of seeing it every day, feeling its effect on my peace, being aware of it all the time when I wanted to do other things.
We have probably the average amount of clutter in a Western home, for a family with a couple of kids (and a dog). Unless you are naturally a minimalist and very ordered type personality, you are possibly quite similar. For instance, too many books on the bookshelf, too many kids toys, overflowing clothes wardrobe, under stairs cupboard jammed too full and garage stuffed with seldom-used items rather than housing just the car and some gardening tools (Our car wouldn’t fit in our garage!).
The key: A mindset change
And then about a month ago, I re-read a couple of books on decluttering and living a more minimalist life. This time it seemed, I had more of a minimalist mindset which made a difference for me. Because we can declutter, but then if we still have the thinking of someone who likes to obtain and keep hold of things (just in case), then clutter very quickly re-emerges in our lives and our homes.
Throwing away more than before
This time I threw away things I was battling to let go of last time. This time I gave up the idea that I am ever going to put those boxes of unwanted (yet in good condition) items on e-bay. I’m not going to do it if I still haven’t found the time to do it. I finally weighed up the benefits of earning one or two pounds per item vs. the effort in photographing, listing, checking on, packaging and posting those items. Nope. Not going to happen. So I decided that they go to a charity store, or to a friend instead.
We still have more work to do, but based on the decluttering we have done so far, I am just amazed at the positive effect it has.
How decluttering has changed my life :
1. I can find things easier
Less stuff means things don’t hide behind a huge mound of stuff. It’s so much easier to find what you need when shelves are not bursting and wardrobes are not stuffed to overflowing.
2. I feel so much more calm
Clutter affects our psyche. It has a stressing effect. Partly why we love being in a hotel and feel like we are getting away from it all is because of the calmness of the space and lack of clutter, and the fact that we have got away from our stuff!
As an example, after considerably minimising the things in our bathroom and significantly clearing the counters and surfaces, I feel happy to go in there – there’s a sense of calmness instead of stress as I can see more counter space. It brings me joy to be in there.
3. Cleaning is so much easier
You don’t have to move things off counters and struggle to clean around all sorts of objects on window sills and counters. With just a few sweeps, I can clean the bathroom counter tops whereas before it involved moving more things to the side to clean behind them and underneath them.
4. I’m more focussed on my goals
Our homes really should support our goals – our goals for memorable, fun family time, having friends round, relaxing and/or our goals for working (if we have a home office).
Since decluttering, I am far less distracted. Clutter distracts. It calls to you either to attend to it or to clear it up and tidy it up. Either you get distracted by a shiny object that you want to do something with, or by the need to tidy it all away. I’m able to do the important things in my life rather than constantly tidying or being distracted by less important minor things.
5. I’ve become more of a creator and less of a consumer.
Do you know that throughout our lives, we’re conditioned to be consumers, constantly to get more stuff and to need more stuff?
Sometimes there’s good reason for obtaining more things in our lives
When we minimise our stuff, we lose the pull of acquiring more and start to think more about how to create and innovate; decluttering can actually help you work on plans and goals you may have.
6. Save time
Decluttering takes some initial effort, but in the long run, you save time.
You save time cleaning, save time finding things (that get lost amongst the clutter), save time by being focussed on the 1-3 things you need to do that day rather than a multitude of things calling for your attention.
7. More content with what I have
Going through the process of decluttering the things we have, has created an incredible awareness of just how many possessions we have. So often we think about what we DON’T have, and wish for more. But when we spend time, going through things in our cupboards, we come to the realisation of how much stuff we have that we don’t even know what to do with it! And much of it was something we just had to have, and now it’s stuck at the back of a cupboard, unloved and unused.
We all in the Western world have a lot.
If there’s a good purpose for the more, then that’s great. I’m referring to things we no longer use and no longer need.
8. Save money
I learnt a good principle about decluttering – the ONE IN, ONE OUT principle. This requires us throwing out a similar item every time we acquire a new thing that is brought into the house. Or throwing out similar sized items.
What effect does this have? Well, I’m not that keen to buy too much stuff anymore because I know I need to choose something to throw away when I do. And if I don’t throw a similar item away, I increase our clutter again!
Before, I’d be out buying more stuff, sometimes because I couldn’t find the original, but now my mindset has changed from wanting more stuff; now I think about the possible effect that thing will have on the clutter in my home and I think twice about acquiring it. Practising ONE IN ONE OUT principle means I’m not in such a rush to buy things.
It’s hard to imagine that something like decluttering could have such a positive effect on your life.
But I can tell you from personal experience that it does.
I invite you to do the same. If you want to get serious about your efforts, I have a 30 day challenge for you to follow. Spend just 30 minutes a day for 30 days on decluttering. You can find it here (30 Day Declutter Challenge).
If that’s too much and you don’t have the time, then do just a couple of very do-able things that require very low investment of your time :
1. Practice ONE IN, ONE OUT. Every time you buy something, throw out an old version of it that is at home. Dont bring in a new blouse, spatula or book without throwing out one of the same. Or throw out a similar sized object.
This way the mountain of clutter will not be worse than it is now.
2. Throw away or give away 3 things every day for the next year. Over the course of just a year you will have eliminated approx. 1,000 items from your home and you will notice the difference.
Let me know how it goes !