How to declutter

Decluttering is letting go of unnecessary things and doing it properly means going through everything at your home and deciding what’s important enough to keep and giving away or selling the rest. How to start depends on your starting point. If you already have everything in order and simply want to make easier to keep it that way (by having less stuff) your job is quite straightforward. Just go through everything you own group by group (clothes, books, household items) and remove unnecessary things.

However, if your house is a bit more chaotic and you don’t have everything nicely organized you first have to group similar items together to get a good overview of what you have. Having things spread around doesn’t need to mean you’re a slob, it can simply mean you have too much of everything so the amount of your stuff doesn’t match with the amount of your storage space. Books start to pile up just because they can’t easily fit in your bookcase.

This is obviously where our consumer society is trying to sell us more storage units or organizing ideas. Have a little pause here. Is it rational to buy more storage units every year? Why can’t we simply stop buying too many things, give away what we don’t need and keep only things that are useful and bring us joy.

You will be surprised by the amount of stuff you have. Just put everything (like clothes) in one pile. Then start grouping those items in smaller piles (shirts, trousers, shoes). Declutter easy targets while grouping: clothes too small or totally unflattering, things that don’t even belong to you (borrowed). After grouping everything go through every pile and decide what you want to keep and what to give away or sell. Keep what you use regularly and what clearly brings you pleasure or is otherwise beneficial to own.

After decluttering every item group storage them in their own (maybe even labeled) place. Everything should fit easily but this is not where it ends. This is where you are starting to find out how easy your life can be, how light you can feel. Soon you’ll realize you still use only a small portion of your clothes and have things you don’t need or like but kept just in case or because letting go felt difficult. Go through everything again as many times you like, make a habit of regular decluttering and pay attention to your buying in the future. Keep in mind that the idea is not to make space for new stuff, the idea is simply to have less.

I do my seasonal decluttering room by room starting from my front door because it’s easy to schedule and finish during one week. Hallway on Monday, kitchen on Tuesday, wardrobes on Wednesday, basement on Saturday. The job is not as huge as it sounds. My kitchen cabinets seem to be messy no matter how much I declutter but cleaning my wardrobe takes only 10 minutes.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Letting go of physical items means often letting go of the past dreams or unrealistic plans and can take time to accept. Remember you have the power, you make your own personal decisions. You want to have a shoe collection? You can have your shoe collection. Organize your shoes and enjoy them. I love having physical books at home and I carry paperbacks during traveling. Charging too many digital equipments is a challenge and I enjoy holding physical books in my hands.

It can be possible to become a minimalist overnight, especially if you live alone and there’s no need to persuade anyone. However, doing decluttering gradually during a longer time period is an easy option with a partner or family. There’s no use to force anyone, just do your part and let people around you see the advantages of having less.

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