The Art of Decluttering


Learning to live a Simple Life is a process and a journey.  It’s not something that happens overnight.  The journey involves creating good habits, one habit at a time, and working on them until they stick and become a natural part of our daily rhythms.

Decluttering is one of those good habits.

It’s not just about having a tidy home, although that is the eventual outcome, but it’s choosing to clear away all those things that are not essential to our lives, clearing out the years and sometimes decades worth of “stuff” that we collect and hoard.

Often, and I include myself in this, I make excuses as to why I don’t want to deal with it – There’s too much to sort through, it’s too overwhelming, I’ve got too busy, I’m too tired.  Excuse after excuse.  We procrastinate.  And, as it turns out, we can become very good at procrastinating.  But clutter is procrastination!

So it’s time to deal with the excuses, face them head on, and start with one small step at a time.

  • Start small – Choose one small area, a drawer, a cupboard, a worktop, wherever it may be.  Clear the space completely and only put back, neatly, what you really need.  Get rid of the rest – throw it, recycle it, sell it, donate it.  Job done.  You’ve taken your first step.
  • Repeat – one small area at a time – Feel good about what you’ve achieved so far, but there’s a long way to go to clear your whole house!  The only way is small steps.  Set aside 10 minutes a day or longer if you get into it.  Maybe spend an evening, a day off, or a weekend if you feel like it and tackle a much bigger area.  Don’t panic.  If that still feels too overwhelming just keep the momentum going and tackle another small area on a regular basis.  It’s not a race.  It’s the continued progress that we want, however small the steps may be.
  • A simple method – It’s helpful to have a simple method as you declutter.  I would suggest clearing the area into a pile, and then working through that pile one item at a time.  Ask yourself, “Do I need this, do I use it?”  If the answer is “Yes”, then place it back, if the answer is “No” then get rid of it.  Try not to think for too long.  Try to make a quick decision.  Hopefully you should be able to work through a pile quickly deciding “Yes”, or “No”.  Bag up your “No” pile, place it by the door and get rid of it as soon as you can.  You’ll find there’s a release and sense of achievement as you give the items away.
  •  The 6 month rule – If you really can’t decide whether to keep an item or not then place it in a box with the date written on it.  If, after 6 months, you haven’t used that item then it’s time to get rid of it.
  • Keepsakes and Momentos – For most people these are the hardest things to part with.  We all have things that have a sentimental value or a reminder of someone or some event in our past.  These people and times are part of our journey through life.  Sort through them carefully and get rid of anything that you know longer want, or can’t even remember why you kept it.   For those items you would like to keep consider creating a scrap book or something similar to keep them all together.
  • Enjoy the journey – Recognise that decluttering is much more than just tidying.  It’s a process, working towards living a more simple life.  Enjoy the journey.  Rather than seeing it as a challenge or something that has to be done, relax and embrace the process.  Ultimately it leads to a less cluttered home, a change in your attitude towards “things”, and a more peaceful and relaxing environment in which to live.

It may take months to clear your home, but step by step you can get there.  Decluttering ultimately leads to a less cluttered home, a change in your attitude towards “things”, and a more peaceful and relaxing environment in which to live.

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