The Art of Decluttering

Where does one even start? I’m not only talking about writing this post but also about decluttering, which is a time consuming and energy-draining activity. I love beautiful spaces with colour co-ordinated elements, bright and perfectly organised. My house is nice, but it’s not exactly that, with the main difference being clutter… I do tidy up, but each time the clutter just grows back! Amazing, right? Any attempt of cleaning one room results in more stuff being put in another. I realise the question I should ask myself is: do I need all that stuff? I already know the answer to it, but still it’s difficult to part with things as A) I paid for them, so it’s as if I was throwing away money and B) what if I need the thing the moment I get rid of it (how many times it happened to you, btw?). I’m not too sentimental, however, so I don’t keep things because they trigger memories. I do have a few items I will never throw away, but in general, I find it hard to form a bond with a potato peeler or my daughter’s plastic toys. I have a more practical approach, but I get that for others it’s the emotional side that is difficult to handle. So, if you need some convincing why you should declutter your home, think about all the benefits that you’ll enjoy once you climb this mountain. For a start, you will be able to concentrate better, as being surrounded by too much stuff affects our ability to process information. Once you clear your space, you will no longer be distracted or annoyed by things around you that have no real purpose to be in that space. Find a proper place for all the things you use or get rid of them completely if they only collect dust. The huge stack of board games I keep in my kitchen is definitely relocating to a different room! Number two is feeling happy. Short term effect is a happiness rush and a feeling of achievement once you manage to do the impossible. But there are also longer-term benefits. Research shows that the stress level of people with less cluttered homes is much lower. You will also enjoy better self-esteem, as your house will no longer shout that you are a mess. Another benefit is having more time for yourself and others. It somewhat feels counter-intuitive that investing more time into something generates more time as a result. But think about the time you spend looking for something. Or when you start moving things around so you have more space to do something. Also, the fewer things you own, the less time you need to invest in cleaning on a daily basis. Improving relationships is another one. This one is simple. If you live with someone else and your house is tidy, there are fewer reasons to argue! The final one on my list is having more money. There are two ways how decluttering can boost your finances. Uno. As you clear your house of things you no longer want or need, sell the items that are in good condition. You probably have some unworn clothes in your wardrobe or unwanted Christmas presents still in boxes. Make some pocket money and sell them on eBay or other sites and make someone else happy that they snatched a bargain. Due. Once you start decluttering your home and stack up donation boxes and rubbish bags, you will realise that you are buying way more than you need. So, next time think twice when you want to buy something. If you REALLY need it, go for it. If you don’t, then walk away. You will end up having more money in your pocket and a less cluttered home. Not to mention the positive impact on the environment. Like with most things, the best time to start is to start now. Don’t wait till January or your next free weekend, as you will start procrastinating and that free weekend will get filled with lots of ‘unexpected’ activities. Start today – even 15 minutes each day will bring some results soon enough. Step 1 is to organise yourself a little. Get a few boxes and label them ‘donations’, ‘stuff to sell’, ‘keep but relocate’ and for things that are damaged or unsuitable to donate prepare the rubbish bags (remember about recycling though!). If you are still torn and can’t decide what to keep and what to bin, this list of 62 Things to Declutter That You’ll Never Miss, should push you in the right direction. In step 2 you should specify an area you want to declutter first. You can do it room by room, or (if you are a fan of Marie Kondo) tackle categories instead (ie. clothes, books, sentimental items). You may want to start with the easier areas first, so you are not discouraged too quickly or distracted sorting through old photographs and wandering the memory lane. Step 3 is the moment you want to reach. You’ve done the heavy lifting and got to a place, where you no longer trip over things and can actually find a can opener within seconds. Take it all in and congratulate yourself. But also remember to keep it up. Be mindful of adding new things to your home that might take over your space again. Finally, a few decluttering tips: - Don’t organise things you should discard. - Get rid of stuff that has no real use or doesn’t make you happy. - Don’t move things from one room to another. Everything should have a proper ‘home’ and if you can’t find one, then chances are you don’t need it in your life. - For every item of clothing you buy, get rid of one from your wardrobe. - Donate undamaged items you no longer need instead of throwing them in the bin (be a hero and help to save the planet!). - Check your kitchen cupboards for any food expiring soon that you won’t use and take it to your local food bank. - If you have an old pair of glasses, donate it to charity organisations that send them to people, who can’t afford new ones – Marie Curie charity shops accept them. Decluttering is not only about tidying up the physical space. It is a mindset. Your house is just a start. Think about the files in your computer, your email box, your calendar full of meetings. Keep yourself more organised, be ruthless in clearing spaces around you and don’t let things overwhelm you. Once you follow this mindset, you will benefit from higher productivity and have fewer obstacles to manage to reach your goals. article by Gosia Szwed-Pruvot