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How To Declutter Your Home (And Transform Your Life)
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How To Declutter Your Home (and Transform Your Life)
I recently became interested in minimalism (and decluttering your home as route towards minimalism) when I read about how much it can improve your mental health.
As some of you guys know I’ve had severe depression for a number of years so I’m always interested in anything that can help me on my road to recovery.
My Mum has always been seriously into decluttering, so for her birthday I got her a copy of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She read it and loved it, vowing to ‘KonMari’ her already very organized and tidy home!
I then read it and loved it too. And it totally opened my eyes to how important a tidy and minimalist home truly is, especially for your own happiness and productivity.
What followed was a busy weekend completely decluttering my own home with my Mum’s invaluable help, and I can honestly say it has changed my life.
Having a tidy, decluttered home has had a massively positive impact on my mental health among many other things.
So hold on tight while I hand you over to my Mum who will walk you through how to easily declutter your home, smash those fears that are currently stopping you and transform your life in the process!
But before I do that, let’s just have a look at a few other reasons why you may want to declutter your home and embrace a more minimalist lifestyle?
– It improves mental health
I mentioned this earlier but it’s true, de-cluttering and minimalism does have a very positive impact on mental health for many reasons. But it particularly helps with that crushing overwhelming feeling that’s common for people with depression and anxiety.
– It improves your finances
When you embrace minimalism you no longer buy things unless they have a purpose or you truly want it. That means each purchase is very considered, thus saving you oodles of cash on impulse shopping!
Also when you de-clutter you will end up with a huge pile of items that you no longer want so anything half decent can be sold to generate cash, winner!
– It saves you time
How long do you spend looking for items, or tidying and cleaning your home?
Too long is my answer. When you de-clutter and own less stuff, cleaning, tidying and actually finding that item that you need becomes a breeze. Saving you time that you can spend on doing things you enjoy!
– It’s good for the environment
By consuming less goods you are definitely helping the environment because the impact of the creation, production, distribution and then destruction of each item can be huge. Even for little things like a pair of jeans!
Therefore if you are buying less of it, and taking better care of your current items, that can only be a good thing for our planet.
Okay now I think it’s best if I hand you over to the expert on this matter…
The magic that is decluttering your home …
Can you imagine only having possessions that make you happy, or items that are a regularly used and necessary?
Be honest with yourself, how many things do you have that do not fall into either category?
How much ‘stuff’ do you really have?
Now imagine happiness inducing and useful items having specific places in your home where you can always find them.
Yes a place for anything and everything, so you can always find it and put it away is truly possible!
We accumulate ‘stuff’ throughout our lives, adding to it year after year. But we don’t get rid of that stuff or let it go at the same rate, meaning our homes and lives become fuller and fuller, allowing us no space to breath, create and actually live.
Are your worktops full of crockery, bottles and jars that should be in kitchen cupboards but there’s no room?
Are your clothes all over the place because there’s no space in the wardrobes?
Do the kid’s toys take over floor wherever you walk?
Do you waste time looking for mislaid items, time that could be spent on hobbies or being with your family?
You know many people actually move house because they run out of room for their possessions. Imagine that, all the stress of moving and spending tens of thousands of pounds just to up-size their cupboards so they can fill them with more ‘stuff’ they don’t actually use.
Perhaps you’re one of those people who moved house for that exact reason…
So why do we hoard all this stuff?
Whether you call them reasons or excuses, you will probably find something that resonates with you in this list:
You don’t have time or energy to sort stuff out
You just can’t face going through all that stuff
You have better things to do!
Even though a clothing item hasn’t fitted for years you keep it just in case you lose weight
Most of it belongs to the kids and they left home years ago but their stuff didn’t
Those boxes have been in the loft/garage for years and you have no idea what’s in them
It belonged to your Grandma/Mom/Dad/other departed loved ones, therefor you think should keep it
It was a gift from your Mom/Sister/Son/Daughter/friend and therefore you should keep it.
It was very expensive so even though you don’t really like it you still think you should keep it
You not even sure how you would get rid of all that stuff!
That all sounds pretty familiar, right?
But hopefully some of you are thinking how amazing it would be to de-clutter your home and life, despite the above reasons (or excuses depending on how you look at them…)
When you look around your home, you probably notice that you have loads of clothes/baking tins/shoes/books etc. But you know what? I bet you barely wear or use a third or even a quarter of them.
That is the craziness of hording stuff.
Let’s look at a few of those reason/excuses and see if we can get to the bottom of them:
– Unwanted gifts can make you feel really guilty, especially when you are considering throwing them out. But who needs that in their life?
When we give a present to someone, it should be given with love and best wishes to bring them pleasure, and that means GIVING IS UNCONDITIONAL. If someone makes you feel bad for not liking their gift or wanting to change it, as long as you have been sensitive to their feelings, then that is their problem, not yours.
Of course you don’t have to tell them you dislike the gift, instead you can just quietly sell it or donate it. Most people will never notice that item in your life again. They have far more important things going on in their own life!
– Just because something was very expensive and you wish you hadn’t bought it, it doesn’t mean you have to compound the error by hanging onto it and beating yourself up every time you look at it.
Get some money for it. Use online selling, clothes agencies, car boot sales and make back some or all of the money you spent on it. That’s so much more useful!
Plus we should never ignore the value in the happiness we felt when initially purchasing the item. Perhaps that was all the happiness you were meant to gain from it and in that case the item has done its job wonderfully.
– Boxes and chests that are have never been unpacked is crazy!
Personally I just don’t get this one, obviously there is nothing you need in there. If you did then you’d have bought another one by now and if you cant even remember what’s in them, they are definitely a waste of precious space in your life! Get rid of it!!!
– Sorting through things that belonged to a loved one that is no longer here can be a difficult, emotional journey and its natural to want to hold onto them.
But try to consider that these items belonged to that person’s life and weren’t acquired with the thought that one day you would have to sort and store them. That was never the person’s intention when they got them.
Also as time goes by, these items may slow our grieving process and hold us in the past. You are not being disloyal or loving that person less by deciding to let things go.
There will probably be some items that make your heart fill with happy memories, if you don’t want to display them then get a pretty box and put those wonderful memory items in it.
Other items could be donated to a church or charity that is close to your, or that person’s heart. That way these things can be enjoyed by other people, the charity benefits, and you have space in your home; you have shared the love.
– Possessions that kids left behind (obviously be realistic, I’m talking a few years here) can be tricky.
But here is the plan, give your kids reasonable notice and say you would like them to take their possessions or would they prefer you sort and dispose of them. Explain that you appreciate they may not have much time or space BUT when stuff is left year after year, it is less and less likely to be dealt with.
If it falls to you to deal with it, and it probably will, prepare yourself for an emotional journey. Those first shoes, scribbled drawings, toys, books and sports certificates will undoubtedly tug at your heartstrings but STAY STRONG.
Keep the items that make your heart sing with joy in your own memory box, then make up a box for each child with a selection of things that chronicle their childhood and be sure to hand them over next time you see them.
– Finally, yes you can find the time and energy to do this because it’s an investment in your future time and energy. Spend a little now to gain so much more!!!
So let’s declutter your home and transform your life: (It’s so much easier than you think!)
It’s important to set aside a whole free day, or a weekend if possible.
You need to focus with as few interruptions as possible Remember this is a major positive step in your life and it’s worth the time investment for your future wellbeing.
Trust me I’m not kidding, when you have completed this you will feel amazing, like life transformed level of amazing!
Step One – Choose a category of possessions.
It’s so important to do this, don’t choose a room (like the kitchen) it has to be a type of possession, maybe the one that is causing the most clutter. For example your own clothing is a great place to start.
If you have other people living in your house (like a spouse or children) make sure you ignore their stuff for now.
After all, if you are putting the effort in then you should be the first to benefit. Plus when you feel so amazing having done this for yourself it will be easy to help others with their own de-cluttering.
Step Two – Arm yourself with LOADS, and I mean loads, of bin bags
You will need somewhere to put all that stuff you’re getting rid of!
Step Three – Gather up every single item in that category
So go around your home, garage, shed, car (anywhere you can thing of) and gather up EVERY item that falls in this category. If you’re doing clothing think coats, shoes, boots, dog walking fleeces, scarves, socks, underwear, work clothes, leisure clothes.
Get everything out of your wardrobes and chests of drawers and put it all into one room. Do not be put off by the sheer quantity of stuff.
WELL DONE step three was the hardest bit!
Step Four – Sort a particular type of that category
Now settle yourself down in that room with a cuppa as your’e going to be there awhile!
Select a particular type of that category, so if you are sorting clothing you could chose coats and jackets.
Get them all together and go through them one by one; pick it up, look at it critically, try it on, does it fit, is it looking a bit scruffy, are there buttons missing, when is the last time you wore it?
Then HONESTLY ask yourself:
DO I LOVE THIS and DO I FEEL GREAT IN IT?
DO I WEAR THIS REGULARLY OR IS IT USED FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE?
For example, that evening jacket that’s hardly ever used but you feel like a million dollars in it when you do is a keeper!
You may not feel fab in your dog walking coat but its perfect for its regular practical use, so it’s a keeper.
You may go skiing only once a year so your ski jacket has regular use for that holiday, so it’s a keeper!
Put these items carefully aside.
BUT the two old ski jackets that haven’t been used for years and the pile of other random dog walking clothes you keep ‘just in case’ are cluttering up your life, sapping space and your energy therefore they must go.
Don’t be afraid to get rid of items that just don’t make you happy. If it’s not positively contributing to your happiness when you see it or wear it, it has to go.
One very, very, very important point here, try not to put stuff you no longer want aside for other people. Just because your sister once admired your jumper doesn’t mean you have to offload it on her!
Also, this is your amazing personal project and you really don’t need other people’s input and comments at this point, however well meaning they are.
You may want to sort the stuff you are getting rid of into different bags, maybe one for selling, one for thrift shops and another to go to the rubbish and another for recycling.
Then once you have done with that particular type from you category, move onto another type. So for clothing you could now sort nightwear.
As before get them all together and pick up each one and evaluate it.
If you find a type of clothing that you end up with a large quantity of items to keep, have another think, do you really need them all? Of course you need ‘enough’, maybe for different seasons and occasions but stay mindful of why you are doing this.
Once you have done a few items it gets much easier and it’s so empowering to make decisions that will give you space to place your possessions where you can see them, put them away easily, and most importantly find them when you need them.
(A little bit of decluttering inspiration for you!!!)
Step Five – Store your items
When the whole category has been de-cluttered, move the bin bags away to another place (ideally the car so you get rid of them asap) and start putting your clothes (or whatever category you were sorting) away.
You should treat them with new respect, after all you love them, they fit you, they are in good repair, they do the job you need them for and they make you feel great. They deserve being cared for and respected.
Step Six – Dispose of the bin bags
Dispose of the bin bags as soon as you can, the longer they stay inside the home the more things start to sneak out and start cluttering up your house again.
Step Seven – Rinse and repeat
Choose another category of items, stay strong and empowered and rinse and repeat.
If you share your home with others you will probably want to explain why you are doing this and why you feel it is important to dispose of unwanted items to create relaxing spaces where items can be found easily, saving time and frayed tempers!
Children like being able to find their toys and clothes so buy some inexpensive crates and get them to sort their things into them, encouraging them to donate toys that they have outgrown to charity shops or toy banks.
Adults may need more persuading but they will see and appreciate the advantages over time.
Happy decluttering your home! It’s that easy!
So I hope that really helps you get started decluttering your home and enjoying the many benefits that it brings, like I said it’s life tranforming!
As ever, any questions please ask away in the comments below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I promise I will answer every one, or I will pass it onto my Mum, aka the Queen of decluttering!
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