Decluttering Your Life: From Tech-To-Home Tips
7 minutes read
There’s no arguing that the phrase “tidy house, tidy mind” has some sway, but for many of us decluttering can seem like an insurmountable task. Even clean and pristine Monica from Friends had a secret cupboard stuffed to the brim with bric-a-brac. But if you’re craving the Marie Kondo effect, here are all the decluttering tips you need…
What is decluttering and why is it important?
Decluttering is simply the act of clearing your home of its clutter, everything from post, toys, and unworn clothes to items you use daily but just never seem to find the time to put away. Over one’s lifetime, you can accrue a huge number of possessions; some special and sentimental while some just get forgotten about as they take up permanent residence in one of the crevices of your home. While accumulating things can be lovely, many people can feel overwhelmed or even tied down by their belongings, and in fact, lots of clutter can have a negative effect on your wellbeing. According to The Mayo Clinic, having lots of clutter decreases our ability to focus or process information and even to sleep soundly. Studies have shown there’s a link between having lots of household objects and elevated levels of the hormone cortisol, which makes us feel stressed. Having lots of unorganised belongings around the home can affect our mood and our self-esteem. No wonder lots of us want to a fresh start, but if you’re wondering how to declutter your home, you’re not alone.
The benefits of decluttering your home
Save time and money
Clearing up your space means you can take proper stock of what you already own and stop buying things you don’t need (or spend time hunting your home for belongings lost in the mess).
Possessions lost means valuable storage space gained, a real asset for those of us who live in smaller dwellings.
Alongside the stress relief induced by clearing away clutter, you also rid the need for frantic searches for lost items or vitally important pieces of paper whose whereabouts you’ve lost track of.
Get house proud
Decluttering your home means you can banish the lingering anxious feeling that someone might stop by unannounced.
Some really interesting studies have been conducted into how the environment around us affects our behaviour. One such study found that volunteers were more generous with charity donations if they were addressed in an organised environment, suggesting that being clutter free taps into the kinder aspects of ourselves. It’s important to note that an ordered home isn’t a one-stop-shop to peace and serenity but can be a way of helping our day to day lives run more smoothly.
How to declutter your home in 7 simple steps
Where to start with decluttering your home
Before we ask how, it’s important to ask why. Why do we have so much clutter around us? If it’s a long-standing problem, try to find out why you’ve been unable to get rid of clutter.
It’s perfectly ok to be sentimental about some items but ask yourself: are you keeping it because you want to, or because you feel obliged to? The latter has no place in your home.
One box at a time
Staring into a cluttered abyss would take its toll on even the most ruthless of organisers, and you’re far more likely to give up if the task feels insurmountable to begin with. Instead, start small and tackle your home one box at a time, spending a maximum of 10 minutes. Decluttering is a marathon, not a sprint — and you’ll be surprised how quickly things fall into order.
Unsure whether you’ll miss that gift from grandma you haven’t touched in 10 years? Pop it in a box, seal it and put it somewhere out of sight. If in six months you haven’t reached for it, take it to the charity shop. Committing to give items to charity or a friend can help you feel better about parting ways too.
Set a deadline
To avoid getting declutter fatigue, set a hard future deadline that will ensure you keep on top of the project. For example, call a charity and schedule a pick-up for some time in the future. Or put a date in the diary to host a party at home for friends. Taking before and after pictures of each room as you go will give you a hit of instant satisfaction, plus the motivation to keep going.
Have you got a pile of items that you put aside to sell one day? This is very common when people are decluttering clothes. Perhaps a dress you missed the returns date for or an unwanted present? Remember that selling things second hand takes time and effort, so be realistic about what you have the energy for and if it’s not going to get done, take it to the charity shop.
Update your storage
Decluttering isn’t about ridding your home of all prized possessions, but about making the storage in your home work for you. Invest in vacuum pack bags and stow away items not regularly needed under the bed. Look for drawer inserts that can maximise the usability of your furniture. Perhaps try open shelving as opposed to a wardrobe where you can simply close the door on any chaos within.
Ask for help
Lastly, if you’re overwhelmed, then ask for help. Especially if you are really struggling to let go of possessions — speaking to a professional can help you understand why, and how to move on.
Have you heard about digital decluttering?
Sadly, clutter is not solely a physical problem. In a digital age we can often feel like we’re permanently within reach, with no time to switch off. Digital decluttering is the act of taking a metaphorical broom to your digital presence and sweeping away anything that distracts or causes stress (as well as taking up valuable space on your devices).
Unwittingly signing up for a lifetime’s worth of promotional emails is an irritating by-product of online shopping. So hit unsubscribe to anything not relevant. Whilst a little more savage, this also applies to friends we no longer communicate or having anything in common with. So feel free to delete, unfriend or unfollow people with whom you’ve lost touch.
Do you really need to be alerted every time a distant friend comments under a baby picture on Instagram? Step back from notifications and almost instantly you’ll find yourself less distracted. You can also keep your phone face down when you have a task at hand or want to give something your full attention.
Clear your desktop
A busy desktop can be distracting and confusing, especially when you’re furiously searching for something without time on your side. Organise your digital files into logical folders, it’ll save you precious time in the long run. There are apps like Rocketdock that can help you with this.
Empty your inbox
Create order in your inbox by embracing automated email sorting. This’ll file emails as they come in, saving you a task. There are apps like SaneBox and AquaMail that can set this up for you. Also find storage-sucking emails by organising by size and deleting anything un-needed.
Read more: 10 Easy Ways To Go Plastic-Free
How do you start decluttering?
It’s important to start small when decluttering so as not to overwhelm yourself. Tackle one box at a time or give yourself short intervals to dedicate to tidying. As your house gains order, you’ll soon find yourself able to take on more.
What not to do when decluttering?
Get distracted. And that’s much easier said than done. Opening a forgotten box can have you falling into a rabbit hole of memories. Instead, make a plan of attack and have a sorting system. Anything you might want to mull over later can be put to one side whilst you’re at work.
How can I declutter my house in one day?
If you’re time poor, start by emptying your house of rubbish and making the bed. You’d be surprised what a difference it makes. Then tackle the rooms you’re most concerned with, setting a timer as you go, so you’re forced to keep up the pace.
What is the fastest way to organize a cluttered house?
Have a sorting system, employ the help of friends and family, and if you can — be ruthless.
Why can’t I start decluttering?
There are many reasons why it’s difficult to declutter, and lots of people find reassurance in their possessions or are very sentimentally attached.
What is digital decluttering?
The act of clearing out your digital presence to get rid of unnecessary distractions and stress-inducers. Alongside freeing up mental space, you’ll get extra storage on your devices too.
Read more: Some Simple Things I Do To Live Sustainably