It is often said that the best way to find out what we need is to get rid of what we don’t.
Whenever you hear the word “decluttering,” it’s so easy to picture a house being purged of different kinds of “clutter” – old newspapers, piles of unread magazines, clothes that need fixing, and other unnecessary stuff lying around somewhere in a corner gathering dust.
Of course, that’s the point of decluttering: the process of deciding which items in one’s living space are clutter and which ones are worth keeping. It is the simple act of doing away with the things you don’t need so you can create room for the essential ones in your home.
Now, decluttering is not just about getting rid of physical stuff or deep cleaning your house. It is also the unspoken art of making space for what’s truly important in one’s life.
It could be letting go of unhealthy relationships or saying ‘no’ to commitments that push you to the brink of burnout. It’s hard to pursue your aspirations in life if you’re always being worn down by stress and exhaustion.
- 1 But how do you know what to keep when decluttering?
- 2 How do you feel after decluttering?
- 3 But why is decluttering so difficult?
- 4 So, how do you make a space you love?
- 5 But, how do you organise if you have no space?
- 6 What steps would you take to organise your living space?
- 7 1. Visualise what you want.
- 8 2. Be specific.
- 9 3. Sort and categorise.
- 10 4. Learn the art of letting go.
- 11 5. Practice gratitude.
- 12 6. Recreate your space.
- 13 7. Say “no” more often.
- 14 8. Move at your own pace.
- 15 9. Evaluate your routine.
- 16 10. Reflect on the experience.
But how do you know what to keep when decluttering?
Let’s be honest; giving up one’s possessions can be a struggle.
However, the key to deciding what to keep when you’re decluttering is to know what you value the most. Try standing in a cluttered area in your home right now and randomly pick out one or two items.
Pause for a moment and ask yourself if the item you’re holding brings you everyday comfort or consistent joy. You can also apply this simple ‘trick’ when deciding on what goals, commitments, and relationships you’d want to keep.
When you identify the essential things that make your life better, it becomes clearer what are the items that you are okay parting with.
How do you feel after decluttering?
It’s no secret that stress and clutter go hand-in-hand.
As a matter of fact, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that the increased production of the stress hormone cortisol is linked to a high density of household clutter. Plus, a disorganised home filled with clutter can also damage your mental and physical health.
Thankfully, decluttering reverses the negative impacts of having too much stuff. Apart from helping you achieve a peaceful and organised living space, decluttering improves your overall sense of well-being. Not only will cleaning and organising help reduce anxiety, but letting go of the stuff you don’t need is stress-relieving!
Can decluttering change your life?
Apart from stress relief, decluttering may also help you improve your life.
The moment you start decluttering, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to learn more about the way you live, and in turn, make you reflect on the kind of life that you want.
You’ll also feel this surge of satisfaction that’ll inspire you to gain control of your life. Decluttering enables you to have a fresh start, which can be empowering.
But why is decluttering so difficult?
While decluttering sounds so simple, it’s easier said than done.
In fact, a lot of people in the United Kingdom (UK) have a hard time doing it. In case you don’t know it by now, a 2016 study found that the UK hoards clutter more than the rest of Europe:
- The country uses more than 37 million square feet of storage space, which is five times the storage than its European neighbours.
- 50% of the UK adults admit to holding onto their possessions longer than they should due to sentimental reasons.
- 1 in 3 British folks does not like the idea of letting go of their possessions as they feel like they might use it sometime in the future.
As you can see, there are many reasons why some of us have difficulty decluttering. Whether it may be due to practical or sentimental reasons, our attachment to our possessions makes it hard to let go.
Letting go of our clutter might be difficult, but its benefits outweigh its drawbacks. If you want to feel less stressed, get rid of your excess junk and build a living space that you’ll love.
So, how do you make a space you love?
Again, it all starts with a vision of how you want your ideal life or home to become.
Ask yourself the following questions: “What are the things in my home that I don’t use or need?”; “What are the activities, thoughts, and people that I no longer want to include in my life?
Make an inventory and focus your attention on organising what’s only essential.
But, how do you organise if you have no space?
Not everyone has ample spaces for decluttering, and so this is where being creative comes in.
When making more room isn’t impossible, clear out your existing storage. Organise your wardrobe, use separators, or install narrow shelves. There are smart ways of making the most of what little space you have.
What steps would you take to organise your living space?
Finding the time and space to do all of your life decluttering and organising living space
can be quite overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be impossible.
In this blog article, we’ve gathered a list of easy ways to help get started on your decluttering journey. Here are ten easy decluttering steps to help you make space for the life that you want:
1. Visualise what you want.
This is inarguably the first step that one should take when it comes to decluttering.
By creating a mental picture of how we want our home or life to be, we are able to see what needs to be done. Look around the cluttered spaces in your home and try to imagine an improved and organised version of it. Maximise your senses. How do you want these spaces to look, feel or even smell like? The same goes for conceptualising your goals and commitments.
The more vivid the visualisation, the better is the process of starting decluttering.
2. Be specific.
Once you’ve created a visualisation of the life and home you want, it’s time to go into the details.
The act of decluttering requires dedication, and it is through being specific with the details of how you do it that strengthens your intention. For example, instead of saying, “I want a bigger kitchen space”, say “I’ll spend 15 minutes today checking what items I can clear out that are stashed under the sink”.
By preparing well-defined and unambiguous details of your decluttering process, you’re preventing yourself from becoming overwhelmed and burned out.
3. Sort and categorise.
Now that you’ve got concrete and specific details of how you want to clear things out, you need to sort and categorise your possessions and belongings.
Begin with one cluttered space in your home, such as your closet. Mindfully sift through all of your clothing and sort them one at a time. You can either categorise them in boxes with labels such as “keep”, “donate”, ‘store”, “sell” or “trash”.
This step also applies to other aspects of your life, such as clearing up your hectic schedule wherein you can only let go of commitments that you identify to being unimportant.
4. Learn the art of letting go.
After placing everything in their respective categories, it’s time for the difficult part of decluttering: letting go.
From the get-go, separate the items you want to keep from the ones you would like to discard. Always keep in mind that you don’t have to attach yourself to objects just for the sake of holding on, or thinking that you might use them in the future.
If you find it hard to let go of an item or relationship because of it’s sentimental value, take a step back and ask yourself if it still serves you and your interests. It is only then that you’ll find it easier to part ways with it.
5. Practice gratitude.
Before you fully part ways with the items (or even people) you’ve decided to let go, don’t forget to “thank” them for their contribution to your life.
Marie Kondo, a popular Japanese tidying expert, advises “thanking” the things that are to be discarded. By saying “thank you”, you are expressing gratitude to your items for taking care of you, even for a short while.
You also won’t feel too guilty for discarding your belongings as you’re letting them go with gratitude rather than throwing them away with force.
6. Recreate your space.
After successfully letting go of the things that no longer enrich your life, it’s time to shift your attention to the remainder of your items.
Decide where you will store and organise the things you’ve decided to keep. This step is the transformative part of cluttering as this is where you’ll see the changes you’ve visualised in the first place.
When you recreate your living space, you make room for the things and people that matter; wherein each of them has their roles and reasons in your life.
7. Say “no” more often.
Now, decluttering doesn’t just simply end with the creation of your ideal living space as it is also about clearing the non-physical clutter too, such as countless commitments that do not enrich us.
We are often made to believe that signing up for countless commitments equates to increased productivity. However, this just leads us to drown in too many responsibilities and eventually get burned out. Overcommitting can bring about stress as much as any physical clutter.
For us to lead the life that we want, we have to say “no” more often so we can say “yes” to the things that truly matter.
8. Move at your own pace.
Aside from strengthening one’s power of saying no, the process of decluttering on an emotional level also requires us to pace ourselves.
More often than not, we generate clutter because we feel pressured to buy things or act a certain way. Instead, get rid of the clutter by moving at your own pace. Don’t fill your life with stuff that you know won’t need. Refrain from being carried away by others’ habits.
9. Evaluate your routine.
Another essential step in decluttering you home and your life is to evaluate your routine.
Assess what has worked for you so far and what didn’t. Make it also a point to question what steps of the decluttering process you felt comfortable or uneasy with.
You can ask yourself, “Am I okay with decluttering every now and then?” or “Am I giving too much of my time to others?”. You can always modify your methods so that it will be suited best for your needs and lifestyle.
10. Reflect on the experience.
Lastly, your journey towards making space for the life you want through decluttering won’t be complete without reflecting on your experience.
Ask yourself questions such as: “Was I able to actualise the kind of life that I had in mind?” or “Did decluttering truly help me make space for the things I want?”
Decluttering isn’t easy, but the simple act of reflecting on the experience of doing it might make you appreciate and cultivate the practice even more.
Now that you’ve read and understood all of the steps that we listed above, you’re probably thinking of starting to declutter today. After all, who wouldn’t want to lead a life that’s clutter-free?
While it is tempting to start right away, we shouldn’t forget that decluttering isn’t merely accomplished overnight. All the stuff that you have in your home took some time to accumulate, so don’t feel pressured to clear out your old storages right away.
Also, don’t compare your progress to others. Everyone’s decluttering journey is unique, and so is yours.
Remember to take things slow and relish in the art of letting go of the things that no longer serve you. The process might take a while, but in the end, you’ll be able to live the life you truly want.
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