I’m not talking about packing your stuff & up and storing it in the shed!
I’m speaking of letting go of the physical clutter that surrounds you and no longer adds value to your life. Underneath all the stuff that you don’t use or need is a simpler, more rewarding lifestyle.
When I started my journey to simplify my life I didn’t start with the physical clutter. For me it wasn’t the external stuff that was overwhelming me the most. It was all the commitments for my time fighting with my increasing health problems. Now that I’ve got the right mix in that respect I have turned my focus to getting our house un-stuffed!
What is clutter & why is it a bad thing?
The best definition I’ve found of clutter comes from Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist. As Joshua points out, the dictionary definitions are a bit longwinded. Check out what he has to say here.
Excess stuff and clutter can lead to an array of health issues, both physical & mental/emotional. Hoarding, is at the extreme end, and has even more negative impacts. I’m not going to tackle hoarding in this post. I’ll leave that for the health professionals.
Even if you are super neat and impeccably organised, you have probably been keeping things around longer than you need to.
My Husband and I have been decluttering over the last few months and we still have a lot to go. I would not at this point call us minimalists although we share a lot of the same philosophies around lifestyle.
I am putting it out there that there is no magic number of how much stuff is okay to keep. It’s going to be different for everyone. I couldn’t tell you what that number would be even for us, but I know it’s far less than we currently have.
No-one is going to have the exact same size house, or family, or hobbies as we do.
Someone who never cooks will have a very different number of items in their kitchen than a food blogger right?
How do you know when it’s a good time to deal with clutter?
I’d say it is always a good time. There is also rarely ever a need to completely stop decluttering. It’s a cyclic process because you change, stuff wears out, gets outdated or becomes obsolete.
Shedding your physical clutter is akin to shedding your skin. It can be invigorating and life changing.
Conversely it can be really scary and not all that easy.
What is the best way to declutter your stuff?
I reckon there are a ton of different methods that will get you to a similar result.
I think you just need to make a start.
However, I also believe that it helps to have a guide when you really are at a loss as to how & where to start.
There is no shortage of books on decluttering.
Don’t do it alone. There is safety in numbers.Don't try to declutter on your own. Safety in numbers helps stop the overwhelm. Click To Tweet
Get the whole household on board or grab a friend to help keep you accountable. Join an online group if you can’t enlist anyone you know IRL.
I’m part of Simple Life Together’s Edit & Forget it challenge group on Facebook.
It’s a supportive community of people who are getting into decluttering and the mods (Dan & Vanessa Hayes) are pros & really encouraging.
I’m aiming on getting rid of 2016 items in 2016!
So far as a household we are up to 234 items. We’ve got a lot to go.
Update July 2016: We are up to over 1700 items now. The momentum is building!
We are tracking our progress in a shared Google sheet, which we access easily on our iPad’s. We list the item description, who owned it, why we are letting it go & how it is going to be disposed of. Here is a sneak peek so you know we are for real!
I know…who keeps an empty perfume bottle? Don’t get me started on how many things I found that were broken or expired or missing parts!
Tracking your clutter as you clear it is important. It not only keeps you accountable, it helps you uncover patterns about how you collect stuff and what you spend your money on.
Have a think about how the following questions around spending play out for you:
Do you spend your money on things that are less than ideal for their use?
Do you spend money every time you leave the house?
Do you get sucked in by the latest advertisements while you are shopping?
Do you find that you don’t stick to your shopping list and come home with additional things you hadn’t budgeted for?
…and what about these questions around retaining stuff:
Do you keep things past their usefulness?
Do you keep things that are past their expiry date?
Do you keep things that don’t work?
Do you keep things that no longer fit?
Do you have way too many of the same kind of object?
What can you expect from getting rid of your excess stuff?
I can’t promise you anything but these are some of the outcomes from our experience.
- Discovering you don’t miss the stuff you threw out
- Falling in love with our house again
- Being more house proud and ready to accept visitors
- Finding it quicker to tidy up and easier to keep tidy
- Thinking twice about buying new items
- Considering where and how things are made before purchasing
How do you get the stuff out of your house once & for all?
Deciding what to let go of is one thing, actually getting rid of it all is another.
I’ve found the best way is to be really decisive and not allow yourself to change your mind.
I sort things into different piles:
I try not to let anything in “Recycle” or ‘Bin” stay around. You have to commit. Put the items directly into the rubbish or the recycling bin straight away, so you won’t change your mind.
Like wise with the “Donate” pile. I load it all up and take it straight to the donation drop off points. I’ve been caught before driving around for weeks with a pile of stuff in the boot of my car destined for an Op shop (Goodwill, I believe you guys in the States call it).
Once you decide you have to act on it immediately.
There is very little in the final pile; “Sell”.
We have sold plenty of stuff on eBay in the last few years. However we both agree that this is reserved for items that are of high value. Keeping stuff around that isn’t worth a lot is counterproductive. There is a risk that you won’t sell it and then you’ll keep it around/store it again.
The message is simple:
Cull hard and don't look back. Focus on the freedom that decluttering will bring. Click To Tweet
Is it time to shed your stuff?
I’d encourage you to find time to try.
Find out what kind of life is hidden under all that stuff.
Start small. Start now.
Let me know how you go. Share some tips even.
From my heart to yours,