One of the most important steps to decluttering your home is to simply begin. Some do not even think to declutter unless they are in a desperate situation where they have to move suddenly. I believe that everything that we own holds energy and of course it takes up space. Some items contribute to warm memories or inspirational beauty, while other items can suffocate our surroundings and weigh us down energetically. Today I plan to share 10 tips on how to begin decluttering to gain the serene living space that you truly desire.
Keep in mind that one of the second most important steps is PATIENCE. I don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to magically blink my home into my fully decluttered santuary. It takes time to go through years of your life and how it has accumulated into things. Let’s begin!
1. One Room At A Time
No matter how small or large your home is, beginning one room or corner at a time is crucial. It is so important to allow yourself small successes with this process. It is difficult to see your progress when you are trying to clear out your entire home at one time.
Another thing that I did during my decluttering process was to allocate an area of my home to gather everything that I wanted to look through. By doing this I was able to clear the clutter from specific areas of a room to focus on although it was a bit messy at times.
2. Clear Off Tabletops, Dressers, Desks etc.
Sometimes it is a great start by simply clearing off the top surfaces of every piece of furniture in a room. Go through the items on the top before digging deeper. I like to have a rule of having no more than three items on any surface. It is even better to keep some surfaces completely clear all together.
3. Release Unnecessary Furniture
One of the best things that I ever did during my decluttering process was to donate all the extra furniture that we had. When my husband and I moved in together, we brought all of our previous furniture with us. Over time we let go of two matching end tables, a computer chair instead using a dining chair, an old bookshelf, a side table, and an ornate shelf. Those items opened up so much space in our home and were not missed. The space that was gained was actually more valuable.
4. The Minimalist Wardrobe
Clearing out the closet can be fun yet also extremely daunting. It just depends on how you look at it really. I’ve noticed that when I stopped holding onto clothing that I felt awful in or never wore, I actually had more to wear and felt so much better in my wardrobe. Decluttering my closet also helped me to find my own personal style. Chic Minimalism For Your Wardrobe is a concise article on the best way to declutter your wardrobe. My 15 Item Capsule Wardrobe Checklist gives a great example of what is important for me to have in my wardrobe with my lifestyle. I explain why it is important to stop wearing frumpy clothes here.
5. Papers, Papers, Papers
Junk mail, old documents, and other random paperwork can be a nightmare. I even have to take a deep breath with this one. The easiest way to deal with decluttering paperwork is to create a filing system that works for you, scan documents that are easier to keep on your computer, go paperless in as many areas as possible, and remove yourself from mailing lists. The Paper War gives examples and goes into more details.
6. Dishes Galore
How many dishes do you really need? After visiting family in Northern California and staying at a hotel with a kitchen, I realized that we really didn’t need two sets of dishes, two sets of silverware, and all the extras that we had in the kitchen. Once I downsized the dishes, I also had less dishes and overall cleaning to do.
After the tea party that I had, I gave away the tea cups that I purchased from Ikea to my neighbor and to Goodwill. If you like to host lots of dinner parties then maybe you do need an extra set of dishes. Yet for those like myself that have large large parties twice a year, bamboo plates and silverware works out every time and looks lovely in my opinion. You can read more on decluttering the kitchen here.
7. Cosmetics & Makeup
In Cosmetics Expire, I give the expiration dates on makeup items. In Creatively Declutter Cosmetics, I discuss how to go through all of your cosmetics and how to downsize them. You can also read A More Minimalist Approach to Beauty for nine natural ingredients that you can use for your entire beauty routine if you like.
I’ve learned that creating my own cosmetics has saved me so much money. I’ve also used very simple ingredients so that I wasn’t making a ton of complicated products. One way to declutter cosmetics quickly is to learn what is in the products that you use. You can see a list of ingredients that I believe is extremely important to avoid here. I also provide links to as many of those ingredients as I can so you have a better understanding of why they are on the list in the first place.
8. Donate, Trade, or Sell One-Time-Read Books
I personally enjoy owning books, yet I also donated many books that I was never going to read again and those that were no longer were of interest to me. You can easily sell books on eBay. Books can take up a lot of space, yet going completely digital with books is not for everyone. For future books that you may want to read, see if your local library carries it first. I’ve added three new items on my bookshelf since this article, yet you can see how I’ve beautifully displayed the books that we have here.
9. Be Honest About Art/Craft Supplies
In Artists and the Minimalist Lifestyle I share five tips on decluttering your arts and craft supplies. I think that if you are unsure about a few supplies after you have taken the time to go through them, box those items up and store them for another month. Go through those items again after separation. I’ve noticed that I’ve had an easier time going through items the second time around.
10. My 6 Month Rule
If you haven’t used something in six months, you probably won’t ever! The only items that I extend for a full year with this rule are seasonal items like a winter coat. When decluttering you need to be completely honest with yourself if the item that you are considering to keep is for that just-in-case scenario. When you have just-in-case items you will have a difficult time decluttering. You honestly want to keep items that you absolutely love and add to your life, not to your clutter.
Take your time with this process and do little bits of decluttering weekly or whenever you get a chance. The more that you do it, the easier it will become to keep doing it until you have your desired results. When you really start this project you will honestly have more control when it comes to buying new things. You will learn to only purchase items that you really love or need instead of buying things to declutter in the future.
What tips have helped you with this process?
(Image by Dawn Michelle)