Start the Year with a Clean Slate Part 2
A few weeks ago I released my first blog about decluttering (read it here) exploring the ethos behind the Minimalism style. We found that the minimalist way is to live with only what you need, promoting the things you care most about and letting go of the things that distract you. So, in this blog I am going to share my 4-step decluttering process inspired by some of the well-known decluttering experts out there and the experiences I’ve had in my own house – see my further reading at the end.
So, you’ve decided you want to have a sort out and a declutter, well I think it’s a good idea to have a bit of a vision in your minds eye before you start; what is it you’d like to achieve? Be prepared - it’ll be messier before it straightens out!
One thing that most people suggest is start with something easy, so as the main cook in our house I found the kitchen easy because I know what I do and don’t use. Then I moved onto clothing and books. You should find your own route; what is going to be an easy area for you where you aren’t too emotionally attached to the items and you know what you use regularly? Keep sentimental items right to the end as you’ll find it easier then and you’ll know more about how you want to use the space in your home.
Remove everything from its current home.
By doing this you can see items afresh. Sometimes we stop seeing things that are always there and when we move the item we can, firstly, see the space it has been taking up and secondly, we can see the item again enabling us to assess it clearly. Create a pile or group of the objects and then we can also see if its an area where we have become a bit excessive!
Ask yourself questions about it:
Do you use it? If not why not? Perhaps it damaged, or you don’t have time to use it or you just don’t like it.
Do you like it? How does it make you feel? How would you explain its presence to a stranger? Try to analysis your feelings towards it. If they are negative feelings is there something you can do about that or is passing it on and letting go the best thing for you?
It can be hard to pass things on that are perfectly fine so, to help you, imagine the new owner being really pleased to get themselves a great bargain in the charity shop that they will love and use. Also use the experience to learn that you don’t like that style of shirt, or you don’t have time to make your own ice cream (I’m thinking of my unused ice cream maker in the cupboard!!)
How many of them do you have? Do you need them all? Sometimes this is a good way to cut back especially with practical items, for example like towels; 2 for each person in the family and a few spares for guests, or whatever rules you create for your home. You can also use the space you have available to set your rule, for example with books; choose how many bookcases you want to have in your home and then reduce the number of books until they all fit.
A little side note on books as I know that they can be very sentimental for some people. In my opinion there are some books that are very precious, perhaps they are rare or valuable in monetary terms or perhaps they are valuable to you, like a classic which you must keep in your collection or one from childhood. But there are other books which whilst they be intrinsically valuable as all good books are, they just might not need to be kept by you. I have made up a rule in my house that I only keep books which I would like to read again or that I’d like the kids to read one day. I did try to use the set number of bookcases idea but it didn’t last for me!!
Is it damaged? You might need it for now but pick yourself up a new one when you can and recycle the old one.
Create 3 piles; keep, bin and give away/sell
Some items can just be binned but please do so responsibly and recycle where possible. Many items can hopefully be passed onto charity and places like the British Heart Foundation will come and collect especially when its larger items like furniture or electrical. You may want to start selling in places like Ebay, Gum tree, a car boot sale or local Facebook group. I find this the most time-consuming way to move things on and don’t often bother but I do seek out more specific groups for things like baby items.
Put the items away in a tidy neat way so that you can see them all. One of the minimalist tips that I like is that when you open a drawer you can clearly see everything that is in it in one glance, this means nothing gets hidden behind and forgotten about. One way to help yourself with this is to divide up the drawer into sections, you can either buy boxes from places like Ikea or you can use shoeboxes or biscuit tins. This is one of my drawers I did the other day with a biscuit tin from Christmas!
Try to put the same items all together, not spread around the house, this way you can keep track of the items you have, and the different areas of your home will have a focused task.
Try stacking vertically, we’ve all seen Marie Kondo’s neat clothes, she makes it look like origami! But it is a very neat way of being able to see everything in one go, plus things take up less room! I have found this method useful for sentimental items like kid’s art work. I used to put everything in a box, but you couldn’t really see the items inside, and they took up a lot of space. I now use plastic wallet books and can slip cards, art work, certificates in. The children can flick through and remember these events and see how far they have progressed!
Aim to still have space left over, if your bookcase isn’t full that’s ok because it allows you space when new things come in. Unfortunately, once this process has been gone through it is something that you will need to return to occasionally when old needs to make way for new, but hopefully you’ll be starting from a better position and more clear on what you want to keep and how you want to keep it.
So that concludes my 4 steps and hopefully they will help you to do some decluttering this year to help your home feel calmer. I think its especially a good idea before you think to take on any decorating or purchasing new furniture so that you won’t be purchasing to store things you don’t need! If you’d like to have some help thinking through your new décor then get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d love to discuss it with you!
I hope you enjoy the process and find more space to do the things you love in your home!
Thanks for reading,
Further Reading: (by actual experts!)
Marie Kondo - also has a TV show on Netflix
Joshua Becker - a good blog and his book called 'Clutter Free with Kids' is great
The Minimalists - have a film on Netflix
Francine Jay - a more in depth book called 'The Joy of Less'