Everyone loves to live in a tidy, well-organised home but not many people achieve that easily. We all accumulate possessions over the years and sometimes run out of space, or some of us are simply hoarders who can’t seem to throw away anything. Whether you’re a generally messy person or you just want to start living a minimalist lifestyle, here are 6 tips to help you achieve your decluttering dreams.
Do it in batches
It will seem like a daunting task if you let your possessions – both wanted and unwanted – pile up for a long time, then decide to declutter, say, once a year. It’s a lot less overwhelming if you clean up a little bit at a time so make it a point to schedule some time to declutter every week or so, or even each day, if you’re very messy. It’ll feel more rewarding when you’re able to tackle the process easily, as opposed to being faced with a mountain (sometimes literally!) of things to clear up.
The ‘hanger trick’
Your closet is probably the part of your home where you’re keeping a lot of things you don’t use. Learn how to let go of clothes you haven’t worn in ages but always hang on to because you think you absolutely need them in your wardrobe. One easy way is a hanger trick that gained popularity after Oprah Winfrey championed it – hang all your clothes on hangers facing one direction. After you’ve worn an item, put it back in your closet with the hanger facing the other direction. Give yourself a time frame of a few months and, after this period, get rid of the clothes on hangers that haven’t changed direction. If you haven’t worn them in a few months, chances are you can live without them so donate them to charity, give them to friends or sell them online.
This is a handy tip especially for people who hoard loads of receipts, bills and other such documents. If, for some reason, you need to hold on to these paper items, scan them and store the soft copies on a computer, hard drive or in the cloud. Papers collect a lot of dust so the less of it you have lying around the house, the better it’ll be for both health and aesthetic reasons. Hold on to important items like your birth and educational certificates though, you certainly need these originals for the rest of your life.
Don’t buy until you have space
We know it’s hard to resist shopping sprees, especially when sales take place but take note of how much space you have at home before you shop. There’s no point adding to the piles of clothes in your closet, for example, when you don’t wear a lot of the items you already have. Or resist the temptation to buy those pretty knick knacks that you know will just be lying on your tables or shelves, making your home look messier. Also, unless you’re definitely going to get your decluttering done, don’t buy storage bins or baskets either. While they do look pretty, they’ll serve a better purpose once you actually sort through your stuff and know exactly how many things you’re keeping, and only then you’ll know how much storage equipment you need and where you’ll keep them. Until then, they’re only going to add more clutter to your home.
Create a ‘maybe’ pile
If you’re fickle or have hoarding tendencies, create a separate pile for items you can’t decide on. Call this the ‘maybe’ pile and place things that you might want to keep but are not sure if you should do so. Put this pile away for a month or two (decide on this duration yourself) and if you find yourself never returning to it during this time frame, throw or give away the items you didn’t use. This way, at least you’re giving yourself (and the items) a chance and being fair, yet discarding things you genuinely don’t need.
Finish the task
So you’ve managed to complete the most difficult bit – the actual sorting through things and deciding what to do with them. You’ve got them in neat piles, whether it’s for charity, recycling or the big trash bin under your block. Whatever you’re planning to do with these things, do it now. If you leave the boxes/bags lying around your house, not only are they going to take up unnecessary space, there’s also a higher chance of you never getting round to discarding them. You might be tired now but getting rid of your unwanted items should be the last step of this job that needs to be done on the same day too, so don’t put if off any longer and finish it now already.