Are you one of the many people out there who wants to declutter your home?
After four years and two moves, Nelson and I have learned thing a thing or two about how to declutter your home. It isn’t easy but it also doesn’t have to be hard.
There will be areas that are harder for you than for us. Our biggies were books and outdoor gear. Yours might be kitchen stuff or clothes. Use these tips and you’ll find success.
1. Give yourself time
The number one thing people do wrong when trying to declutter is to do it all at once, or in a single weekend.
Trying to pare down an accumulation of stuff takes time. Give yourself the gift of tackling this over months…or even a year.
Have a plan of attack by thinking AREAS:
- closets – clothes, then shoes
- linen closet – towels, then sheets
- kitchen – drawers, lower shelves, upper shelves, pantry
- living room – dustables, furniture, rugs, curtains
- dining room – hutch, sideboard, tea cart, furniture, linens
See how much easier it is to tackle one area at time? Be sure, within your areas, to touch EVERYTHING. Often, our stuff becomes “invisible” to us. We see it every day to the point we don’t even see it anymore.
By touching something, picking it up, and examining it, you can decide if the thing brings you joy or is just taking up space “in case.”
2. Make it a family affair
When Nelson and I first met, he was much more sentimentally attached to things than I have ever been. Gifts from his parents, furniture and aprons from his grandparents farmhouses, and even some clothing held strong memories.
3. Repeat, repeat, repeat
When I sold my house in 2011 to move in with Nelson, there were certain things I thought I’d never get rid of. However, before we moved to the mountains, I made some hard choices and got rid of furniture and books that I was certain I’d keep for a long time. And now that we’re really downsizing, I’m making additional difficult choices to get rid of things I really love simply because there won’t be room for everything.
These last choices are the hardest. We’re already pretty much down to only the things we love and use. In the camper, though, there just won’t be room for it all.
And if and when we downsize more – say to a smaller camper or just backpacks – we’ve have even more difficult choices.
The key is to keep picking away at stuff. Exercise the muscle (see below) of making decisions to get rid of things.
4. The secret? Once it’s gone, you’ll forget you ever had it (I promise)
I know you are doubting me right now. Shaking your head and thinking there’s no way you’ll never miss those black boots or that painting you love.
I’m here to tell you you’ll forget all about them in a week or two.
It’s true. In fact, it’s so true that we have a whole back bedroom of stuff ready for our garage sale and I cannot even tell you what’s in there. I can’t. And remember – the stuff that’s back there is the stuff we liked and used a few short weeks ago – stuff that has already made the cut three and four times.
5. Make fast decisions about letting stuff go
In my old business, I used to help people declutter their offices. I found the more we decluttered, the faster my clients were able to make decisions about getting rid of things. They were building the muscle of fast decision making.
I’ve also seen how Nelson has developed his decluttering muscle. Now, he gets rid of armfuls of things, where before he would have examined each thing, thought about its story and significance, and would have had trouble letting something go.
I’m exercising my decluttering muscle, too! I’ve held on to boxes of clothes (that I’ve labeled “clothes I love but can’t fit into anymore”) that I hope I’ll be able to wear again. HA! I’ve decided it’s better to just get rid of them than hang onto clothes I can’t even wear in hopes of fitting into them “someday.”
6. Be really clear about why you’re keeping something
Nelson made a lot of decluttering progress when he realized his motivation for saving things. He realized he was trying to hold onto some of his family’s history. The light bulb moment for him was realizing there was NO family to pass this stuff down to. He and I don’t have children. Neither of his sisters have children. He’s not close enough with his extended family to give things to them. Holding onto stuff makes less and less sense to him. He’s happy to sell things now and get money for them or give them to Goodwill for someone else to discover the treasures.
I hope these six unusual tips to declutter your home help you tackle your own mountains of stuff.
Remember, take it slow, but don’t dawdle! There’s freedom waiting for you on this journey.