I’ve explained that minimalism is a journey, and I am taking baby steps into my new lifestyle. Consequently, I’m still in the long process of decluttering. In my own defense, I’ve lived in my apartment for three years. You can accumulate a lot of stuff in three years. No worries though. I have a plan!! Today I want to share some tips on the art of decluttering in the hopes that it’ll help someone jump start their own process. It’s probably easy to think of your major problem area. If you’re going with my worst first productivity tip for the decluttering process – you are my hero. However, if you need to start smaller, that’s fine too. Below are some places you can start with and build up to the areas you’ll need some extra time on.
Decluttering: Where to Begin
- Pick a small spot: Sometimes an easy win is the ultimate motivation. I decided to start small. One stool around my table is dedicated to junk. That’s where my mail automatically gets thrown, where the stickers I used in my planner and never put away end up, and where the magazines I want to read reside. Seriously, everything ends up there. So I made it a goal to completely declutter this stool. Seeing the stool clear motivated me to move to the counter and then a side table. What area you can use as your easy win?
- The junk drawer: Do you really need five Chinese food menus…to the same place? Get rid of any of those random items that really don’t have a purpose. I finally threw away my Team Jacob magnet that no longer stuck to anything. So much for imprinting. 🙂
- Other people’s stuff: Let go of your ex’s stuff or items that remind you of them. If you’re holding on to a bunch of your relatives things, kindly remind them that you’re not a storage company. Hey Ace, your rainbow table has to go!
- Pantry and fridge: Go throw away all of the expired items. If there are things that are still good, but you don’t want them anymore feel free to drop them at a homeless shelter.
- Beauty/Health Items: That lotion bottle that has maybe two more squeezes of lotion. Chuck it!! The dried up mascara – let it go. Go through everything in your medicine cabinet and look for the outdated medicines and things that you can no longer use.
- Once you’ve moved on to a bigger space experiment with the Four-Box Method. As you set out to declutter an area, bring out four boxes: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Every item must go in a box to curb the possibility that you’ll keep more than you need.
The Six-Month Box Method
If you have an emotional attachment to items like me – you may want to try the The Six-Month Box method. I still have the dresses I wore to my college graduations. I won’t be wearing them again, but even after my awesome closet declutter they still remained. Here’s what you can do. Put anything you haven’t used in a while, but can’t give away in a box. Close the box and put it out of sight for six months. If, in six months, you haven’t retrieved an item from the box, donate the whole box.These things clearly aren’t as important as you thought, if you didn’t need them for half of a year. I’m on month one of my six month box trial. Wish me luck!
Keep or Toss – Declutter Checklist
Something else that may be helpful as you decide what to keep or giveaway is to ask yourself the following questions:
Is this item something I’m currently using?
Is this something I love?
Am I holding onto this for sentimental reasons?
If I were moving to a new home, would I want to pack this item and make the effort to bring it with me?
Do I have multiples of this item?
Could someone else use this more than I do?
Hopefully, one or more of these methods will resonate with you. It’s important to remember that decluttering won’t work if you keep buying more stuff. I’ll leave you with a quote:
Decluttering is not the end result—it is merely the first step. You don’t become instantly happy and content by just getting rid of your stuff—at least not in the long run. Decluttering doesn’t work like that…It is possible to get rid of everything you own and still be utterly miserable. – The Minimalists
Are you an organizational pro? Leave some tips on reducing clutter below!