About 3.5 years ago, my life changed when I started my transformation from slob to…not that messy. It’s become second nature to me now to pick up more often, get rid of things, and generally just prevent us from living in a state of squalor. For many people, they don’t need to learn this. They naturally clean up as they go, or hang up their coat when they get home instead of throwing it on a chair. For me? It was very much a habit I had to learn. And that I keep learning.
The biggest piece of this was learning how to declutter effectively and often. Decluttering just means getting rid of stuff I don’t want or need in my home.
In the process, I’ve learned some things about deluttering that have made it easier. Having these little rules and revelations help me immensely. You might find one or two of them helpful, so I wanted to share for anyone else who’s trying to declutter this time of year.
Tips, Tricks, and Truths about Decluttering
– Have a spot where donations go and constantly add to it. Invite your family members to do the same. (At this point, if Gabe tells me he doesn’t like a shirt or a toy, I tell him to put it in the donation pile. I don’t worry if he’ll change his mind or miss it, because I know we already have more than we need.)
– If I stumble over something twice (usually literally stumble because it’s on the floor and makes me angry) and wouldn’t replace it if I lost it, get rid of it.
– The clutter will return, just accept this and know it’s not because you’re doing a bad job. Set your resolve to continue battling it. It will get easier and easier.
– I don’t need multiples of most things – keep what I love more/what works better. I don’t need to keep backups of most things “just in case.” Because I usually end up forgetting I have the backup and go out and buy a replacement anyway!
– When I feel overwhelmed with the stuff on the floor – I gather it all and put it in one spot and get rid of half of it. I use the concept of “Would I replace this if I lost it?” to help me decide. It’s a quick and effective way to cut the clutter that is usually accumulating in visible spots.
– Clear surfaces make everything look better – floors, counters, anything flat.
– When getting rid of things to donate, put it in a box that I don’t have to open again. If I see it or go through it, I might (totally will) grab a few items back out and keep them. No! Bad, Ashley!
– Think of all purchases as future clutter. Am I a buzzkill? Sorry. But it helps me to combat wanting to chase the retail therapy high! (Also, helps me from buying my kids 20,000 toys because I think of the little pieces all over our floor when they inevitably get bored with it or don’t clean it up.)
– I can’t change the habits of the people I live with, I can only set an example. Okay, I’m obviously not talking about my kids here, but I’m not comfortable getting rid of stuff that’s not mine, so I don’t. If Mike wants to keep lots of books and tapes and CDs, I try not to say (much) about it and just let him do him without forcing him into my agenda.
–The more I do it, the better I become at it – I notice what I’m using and what I’m not and can free myself of the things I’m not finding useful. If I have 10 towels, but I find that I only use the top three towels over and over and the bottom seven towels just sit there month after month, I can probably get rid of those towels! Same with kitchen utensils, makeup, clothes, and so on.
– Speaking of clothes, the most effective way I’ve found to help declutter kids clothes is to do laundry once a week and take a look at how much is left in the closet on laundry day. If there are still, say, 10 pairs of pants, we have more than we need.
– Invite people over – it will help keep your home neat! :)
Sometimes I feel like a bit of a decluttering fanatic, but nothing has made a big an impact with minimal effort in the happiness of our home. It’s amazing how the simple act of getting rid of stuff can transform a space, make us feel lighter and happier, and help us to enjoy what we have more.