Clearing out junk and unwanted stuff is something I find easy. Maybe because I've been doing it for such a long time. There's been less to declutter over time, but I still need to do it so I don't get overwhelmed with stuff. To ensure your decluttering gets off to a successful start, I've listed some helpful tips below.
1. Do have a plan
Decluttering has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance thanks to the KonMari Method. So it is no surprise that many people have jumped on the decluttering bandwagon. However, an impromptu decision to declutter your belongings may not necessarily be the wisest approach. You are more likely to make rash decisions, and probably part with things you’ll later regret. There are significant advantages to planning your decluttering session amongst them ensuring you have enough time, energy and resources to keep you going.
2. Don’t do it all in one day
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither does all your decluttering need to be done in a day. Breaking up the decluttering process by room, type of possession or available time or the availability of a buddy or accountability partner are all strategies that will support you.
3. Don’t do it alone
There is no need for decluttering to be a solo activity, if that floats your boat then by all means go for it. However, decluttering can be a draining process as we’re usually handling physical items as well as the emotions tied to them. It can quickly become an exhausting process if you’re making decision after decision and awakening memories, which may be good, bad or ugly. So enlist the help of a friend, a family member, a coach, or even a good podcast or music playlist to keep you company and spur you on.
4. Don’t buy organising aides/storage solutions beforehand
It is so tempting to stock up on folders, boxes, baskets and the like, ready for our new streamlined stock of possessions in advance of decluttering. This is not the best way forward, as all those aforementioned organising aides could easily contribute to clutter when you realise they no longer fit the bill after your decluttering spree. Trim your things and then decide the storage and display items you need. You may find you don’t need any extra solutions at all.
5. Don’t get discouraged
If it’s been a while since you had a good declutter and clean out, you may feel the task is too big and balk at the idea of getting started. Please don’t be discouraged. I find it easier to sort through books or clothes or a particular room in one session, that way I can see I’m making progress, but I also have time and energy for other activities. Just a little bit of decluttering here and there will get you to your goal, so there’s no need to do everything in one fell swoop. However, you may find that once you get started you’re energised to do a lot more than you originally thought you would!
6. Do be realistic
It’s easy to think that decluttering means you have to end up with fewer items than you started with or you haven’t decluttered properly. That isn’t necessarily so, knowing what you own and why you do is a more important goal, in my opinion anyway. If you’re finding it hard to decide whether to keep an item or let it go, then sealing the item in a box for a defined period of time, say 6 months and then setting a reminder to look through the box may give you greater clarity as to whether you’ll keep the item or choose to part with it. Once you’ve let it go it’s harder to get it back, than if it were just stored in your garage or attic!
7. Do put things back
Some advocate for a pull-everything-out-of-the-cupboard approach, others recommend a section by section approach. Whichever way you choose to go through your possessions, the end result is to put those items back! It’s no good leaving them in piles on the floor, or stuffing them to the back of your cupboards. Purposefully returning the items ensures you have a home for each one and that you have enough space to accommodate them all.
8. Don’t declutter other people’s belongings
In our desire to declutter our own stuff, it’s easy enough to think including other people’s things is a good idea. It isn’t. You’ll know if the people in your life would like that sort of thing, but on the whole it’s better if you stick to decluttering your own items and refrain from extending your reach to other peoples’ belongings. A good way to suggest your loved ones declutter is to ask them to buddy up with you.
9. Do set up maintenance
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘nature abhors a vacuum’ a hundred times and I’ll repeat it again; natures does abhor a vacuum. The space you create once you’ve decluttered can become the metaphorical vacuum that will have you accumulating things in no time if you haven’t set up systems to prevent clutter building up again. Simple rules such as ‘one in, one out’ can be used to buy clothes, shoes and handbags. Or having ‘a pair and a spare’ will prevent you from having seventeen sets of bed linen!
10. Do declutter then organise
Once you’ve finished clearing out all those unwanted and un-needed items, it’s time to organise what you have. You may want to re-arrange items so that the things you use regularly are all in one place, you may decide to redecorate which can open up new storage options. The key is to organise your remaining possessions so you can fully enjoy your pared down possessions.
Once you’ve had a good clear out, you can make some money by selling your stuff on eBay, it’s really quick to get set up. I’ve got a short course that walks you through the steps with some tips I’ve gleaned from over 10 years of eBay experience. Head over here to get started.