For years I have helped people declutter their houses and as a result, free them from the anxiety and depression associated with having too much stuff. Sometimes they were so overwhelmed that in spite of wanting to declutter, they didn’t know where to begin.
Does your clutter make you feel bad? Clutter is distracting and makes it difficult to relax. It overstimulates the senses. Does the thought of sorting the clutter cause anxiety and dread. Do you find yourself frustrated when you can’t find the library books to return or that bill you were supposed to pay?
I once saw a sign that said, “Our house is lived in, it’s not for show. If you don’t like the mess, you know where to go.” I call shenanigans. Having a clean house is not the same as having a show house. Having a clean, organized house merely expresses respect for the house itself, the occupants, and those that come to visit.
We have become a society used to instant gratification, and we are passing that down to our children. According to an article in Time, “Dual-income parents get to spend so very little time with their children on the average weekday, usually four or fewer waking hours. This becomes a source of guilt for many parents, and buying their children toys, clothes and other possessions is a way to achieve temporary happiness during this limited timespan.” It’s no wonder kids are also experiencing anxiety and depression. They can’t find any peace among the clutter either.
Letting go of our stuff is emotional, whether you are paralyzed by sentimental attachments or have feelings of guilt about the value of an item, letting go can be painful. The core issues that caused the clutter to begin with need to be addressed. When it comes to sentimental items, you can hold on to the memories without keeping everything. What good is a whole box of a child’s school work when the box gathers decades of dust in the shed? If you must keep something, keep the best of the best and let the rest go.
Your home should be your sanctuary. Turn the chaos into a relaxing place to recharge. If you want to declutter but don’t know where to start, The Minimalists have a game to help you get started. Check out their 30-Day Minimalism Game. If you want to tackle your house room by room here are my top 5 tips for decluttering each room.
- Get rid of any stained, torn or tatty blankets
- Pick up the tissues, wrappers, and trash that gets caught up in the nightstands, on the floor, and under the beds.
- Remove any cups, dishes or other things that belong in another room
- Remove any exercise equipment that has become your “clothes horse.” Donate it, you aren’t using it now. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you will use it someday. Join a gym or go for a walk.
- Why do you have a chair in your bedroom? Do you actually use it to sit and read? If not, remove it. It’s just another place to throw your stuff.
- Donate clothes that don’t fit right now (unless you are pregnant).
- Donate clothes in good condition that you have not worn in a year.
- Pair down your clothes. Unless you are already a minimalist you probably only need about half of what you have. You can’t wear 35 shirts. At most, you need 7 of each item (7 shirts, 7 skirts, 7 pants, etc.) Donate the extra hangers.
- Toss out any shoes that are no longer in good repair. Be real, how many pairs of shoes do you actually need. Donate what you don’t need or don’t wear.
- Toss out the undies that have lost their elastic or are stained. Get rid of bras that don’t fit properly or are uncomfortable. Ditch the holey socks.
- Get rid of the speciality appliances. Unless you are a gourmet chef, you don’t need a pasta maker. We all talked ourselves into speciality items that we may have used a couple of times and now collects dust in the pantry. Make sure when it comes to your appliances you are keeping it real, check out my article on Real Self vs. Fantasy Self.
- Toss out broken, cracked or chipped glasses or dishes.
- Keep one mug per person and 2 extra. Save your favorites, donate the rest.
- Donate duplicates. Turns out, you only need one set of measuring cups.
- Toss out expired foods. I have seen stuff past its expiry date by YEARS!
- Donate anything that is in good condition that is not played with. Engage the kids and teach them to be generous to those less fortunate.
- Donate anything that is not age appropriate.
- Toss the broken toys or toys with missing parts and pieces.
- Keep a couple of stuffed animals. Wash and donate the rest to a shelter.
- Stop buying cheap, disposable toys. Turn down the disposable Happy Meal toys. Purchase toys that are meaningful, creative, intellectually engaging and will bring joy for years to come.
- Toss out any old magazines, catalogs, flyers and expired coupons.
- Donate any books you have already read or have not read in the last year.
- Digitize your movies and music.
- Donate at least half of your knick-knacks. If you have a collection of something, keep your favorite piece and sell the rest of your collection to someone who will love and appreciate it.
- Get rid of torn, broken down, or worn out furniture. If you haven’t had it fixed by now, you probably aren’t going to.
- Toss out any broken games or games with missing pieces.
- Donate any unused item like sporting items, heating pads, unused crafting items, and home décor.
- Toss out extra pillows that are not in good, clean condition.
- Toss out broken vacuums and parts to vacuums you no longer have.
- Get rid of any suitcases that are not in good condition.
- Dispose of expired medicines.
- Consolidate toiletries.
- Toss out the raggedy towels.
- Donate unused curling irons, blow dryers and electric razors.
- Throw away old, used up, or damaged make-up.
- File it. Put files where they belong. Set up a filing system and use it.
- Minimize cables. Label your cords and donate anything you don’t need.
- Dispose of old printers, computers, speakers, wifi cameras, etc.
- Set up a filing system on your computer and digitize receipts.
- Remove anything that does not belong in your office.
For ideas on digital decluttering click here.
You can do this! Corralling your clutter will destress you in ways you never imagined. Be encouraged, nothing is impossible!
What do you struggle to organize? If you have conquered the clutter, what are your tips or tricks? Share in the comments below.