10 Ideas for Decluttering Your Home
One of my favorite things about living in an RV is having a lot fewer material possessions to be responsible for. That’s less to clean, less to repair, less for my kids deal with when I’m gone. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my STUFF. Before making this transition, my house was full of items I’d collected over the past 40+ years that made life comfortable and reminded me that I’d lived. But I never realized it was also bogging me down until I ended up decluttering most of it from my life.
Now, everything we own fits in a 38 foot motorhome and about half of a 10 by 10 foot storage unit. People ask us all the time what we did with all our stuff. It was a major undertaking that I wrote about in another blog post. Of course, most people won’t want to go to that drastic of a measure, but decluttering even some of your belongings has huge benefits.
Decluttering Brings Peace
Besides making your home easier to take care of and less chaotic, cleaning out physical items from your life can have a major effect on your mental health. It’s easier to think and stay focused on what’s really important to you when these distractions are gone. It relieves stress and anxiety. It can help your relationship when you live in a tidier home. And another benefit most people overlook is releasing the financial burden that clutter brings to our lives.
In short, Decluttering brings PEACE on so many levels.
How I Learned the Art of Decluttering
I’ll admit, I am not good with decluttering by nature. In fact, when I was younger, I was a bit of a pack-rat. But as my kids were growing up, I could see the need for minimizing our clutter, so I did a lot of reading and learning how to do it. I learned a lot of really helpful methods and ideas, and they have sure made a difference in my home over the years.
Whether you’re doing a major downsizing like us or just want to clear a few things out, here are ten ideas for decluttering your home:
We pretty much always have a box by our door with bold letters “DONATE” on it. We use any box we happen to have. Whenever we come across something we don’t need, we immediately put it in the box. No need to think about it or leave it for another day (that probably will never happen!) When the box gets full, we load it up in the car and donate it. This gives us a place to put things and get them out the door on a regular basis. (It’s also a good way to recycle your boxes!)
If you have a really hard time parting with things or think, “But I might need it some day,” try this: Write today’s date on the box. Fill it up with things you think you don’t need. Close it up and store it some place out of the way, like your attic or storage unit. If you need the item enough to go to the effort of retrieving it, go get it. But after 6 months has passed, whatever is still in the box is truly not needed. Donate it.
40 Days of Lent
With the beginning of Lent last week, I saw a post going around Facebook about using Lent as a time to declutter. Many people observe Lent by giving up something for the 40 days leading up to Easter to help refocus their life. I remembered about my positive experience last year giving up social media for awhile.
What better way to refocus than by clearing out clutter?! This post suggested donating one unneeded item from your home each day of Lent. That’s a great and simple idea!
What I like about this is that it is an easy way to get started for someone who has a hard time getting rid of things. One item is not too hard, right? Then as you do this each day, you are building a habit of noticing things you don’t need and getting them out. Also you don’t have to limit this to Lent. You could do it as a countdown to the New Year, an upcoming vacation, or any other special event.
Along those lines is something I used to do with my kids when they lived at home. With four of them, we quickly accumulated a lot of toys, books, clothes, etc., especially around birthdays and holidays. To prevent some of this, and also to help teach my children to be generous, we would go through the toy room and their bedrooms beforehand and find things to donate or throw away. The goal was to get rid of a third to half of their things to accommodate new stuff that would be given them. The best part about this plan was getting things thoroughly cleaned and reorganized several times a year and finding “treasures” they had completely forgotten about!
9 Items for Feng Shui
In Feng Shui, the number 9 has powerful properties. Some decluttering experts believe that clearing 9 items from your home can change the flow of energy. You can go around your house right now with your donation box and put 9 items in it to get rid of. See if you begin to notice a change in your mood or the interactions in your home.
Proceed through your home by doing this daily, weekly, or monthly. Gradually you will begin to see and feel a significant change in your home.
Sometimes decluttering can be overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of stuff or need to to a large room or house. This is when the 15-Minute Rule comes in handy. Set your timer for 15 minutes and just start filling your donation box. When time is up, clean everything up (if you made a mess going through things), put your donation box away, and move on.
This method works great, because you don’t create a bigger mess by cleaning something out. You only decluttered for 15 minutes, so you don’t have a lot to put away. You can also do a little every day, since 15 minutes is not a long time.
If you are a person who likes clothes and shoes, you might find your closet bulging at the seams. One way to easily decide what to get rid of is to start by turning all your hangers around backwards in the closet. As you use an item, put it back on the hanger, forward-facing. After a cold season and hot season, donate anything that’s still on a backwards hanger.
You can also do this by placing a “marker”, like a clip or ribbon, on your closet rod at one end of your clothes. As you use items, place the hanger on the other side of the marker. After two seasons, donate anything that’s still on the first side of the marker.
This can be done with shoes as well, by lining them all up facing one direction in your closet. Then turn them around as you use them.
One Space at a Time
Something that has been working well for us recently is to just focus on one area at a time. We’ll take down one closet, one cupboard or one set of drawers. We try to do this every Saturday morning, just to rotate through everything periodically and get things cleared out and tidied back up. This is a great way to do your initial decluttering or to maintain, once you have thoroughly gone through your home. We like this, because it’s not overwhelming and keeps us on track.
We all like a good buy-one-get-one sale, but how about buy-one-GIVE-one?! This is a good method for maintaining your decluttered house or preventing it from getting worse while you are in the process of decluttering. The rule is, for each thing you buy or bring into your home, you donate one item. This obviously doesn’t count things like groceries or other consumables, but for things like clothes, electronics, or toys, it works great.
Do you have a friend whose house is always super organized, who loves to declutter, or who is a minimalist? Maybe they would be willing to come over and help you go through things. Chances are, they love organizing anyway, but you could probably talk them into trading favors with you. Or maybe offer to take them out to lunch for helping you.
Your friend can probably help you think rationally about what you need and don’t need and also give you tips for staying organized. Because they know you, they can tailor the task to your needs and personality. They can also help you stay accountable by asking periodically how the decluttering is going.
Detach from Sentimental Items
Most of us have numerous items in our home that serve no other purpose than to remember someone or some thing by. These items are difficult to part with because of the emotional tie we have with that person or event. Each item seems to take on a personality of its own. You might even feel like you have a relationship with that item, separate from the person it represents.
See if you can part with a few of these items that are taking up precious space in your home and your life. Try narrowing down to just one very special and significant item for each person or event. Or limit yourself to sentimental items that have a useful purpose. Another idea is to take pictures of the items before getting rid of them, so you can still see them when you want.
When I cleared out all my possessions, I gave certain items to family members that would appreciate and enjoy them. They are now being used for their intended purpose, and I can visit them now and then.
Give it a Try!
Pick one of the ideas above and try decluttering even a few items from your home RIGHT NOW. Explore how it feels to free up a part of your life. What makes it difficult? How can you change that?
What’s Your Experience?
What are some decluttering ideas you have tried? How did it work? What did you like or dislike about it? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!