2014 is the year I gave over half of my possessions to charity, stopped buying unnecessary stuff and simplified my life. Such a drastic lifestyle change created a lot of discussion with my family and friends. Some asked for decluttering tips while others wondered if I’d simply lost the plot!
Although Candy Pop is not usually a place for lifestyle advice, I thought it would be fun to share my decluttering tips should anyone need a little help or motivation. After all, I was once a collector and a hoarder, so if I can do it anyone can! And before I start I just want to say this is by no means the best way to live, some of my favourite people are hoarders, and very happy – hello mum!
1. Getting started
Starting any task is tough especially when there are so many fun ways to procrastinate, so I decided to set myself small goals like addressing a cupboard or drawer. Once I started to see the immediate results and feel the benefits I was motivated to continue.
It’s good to start on the quick win areas rather than the dreaded loft or shed, after all jumping straight into spider territory is no fun at all!
2. What to remove
The toughest part was knowing quite what to part with and so I created a little rule which I now live by:
Do I use it?
Do I love it?
With these two questions in mind, the decision making was simple and it enabled me to let go of things I was keeping ‘just in case.’
3. Duplicate items
I was guilty as charged when it came to duplicates: 2 tin openers, 3 bottle openers, hundreds of mugs, more cute plastic boxes than there were days in the month, numerous towels and bedding sets, it just went on and on. Once I’d scaled down, everything became organised and easy to find without the need for tidying. I was amazed by the volume of things I didn’t use and probably never would, yet I was having to wade through them on a daily basis to locate what I needed.
4. Out-of-date items
Out-of-date food and toiletries I bid you farewell.
5. Unsure items
There were a few things I was unsure about parting with and so I simply boxed them up with a view to addressing in 6 months time. I decided if I didn’t miss them they could go. This is a good technique as long as it doesn’t involve boxing everything!
6 months on and my unsure items have been taken to charity, as suspected I didn’t need them or miss them.
6. Sentimental items
To me sentimental items are a non-negotiable and so I dedicated 1 box to all my keepsakes.
I’ve been hoarding and collecting for most of my life and so the process took time. I started to scale down my belongings when I moved from a 3 bedroom house into a 2 bedroom apartment 3 years ago, and it was the feelings of freedom which motivated me to take the final steps towards a simpler life.
I found it quite an emotional task, there was a lot of guilt wrapped up in some of the things I’d spent money on and never used. It also took a lot of time to physically sort and give away. I began to understand the quote ‘don’t let your belongings own you’ because at times I felt completely overwhelmed by all my things. The process has certainly made me think twice before I buy anything!
8. What to do with it all
I sold a few of my collectable items on eBay and Gumtree and took the remainder to local charity shops. I wanted the clutter out of my life and off my mind, and I didn’t want to spend the next few months listing things on eBay, not to mention queuing at the Post Office.
I’m convinced my neighbours thought we were moving out when they saw car-loads of stuff being taken to local charity shops. We took the majority of my hoard (!) to Cancer Research and the rest to Sue Ryder and Helen & Douglas House. Everything was gift aided and so it was wonderful to receive letters detailing how much money the charities had made.
Other useful places are Freecycle and a good old fashioned car boot sale, although I would recommend keeping your prices low or you will end up bringing it all home with you. Or worse still having a look around and going home with more than you arrived with!
9. Have fun
Decluttering shouldn’t be a bore because the results are so positive. To make the task more enjoyable, I cranked up my music and took plenty of tea breaks. I also pulled out drawers and sorted through them while watching old films.
You can ask family and friends to help. My sister was so motivated by my declutter she asked me to help her tackle her overflowing wardrobe. We had a fun afternoon, and after taking 4 large bags to a local charity she was thrilled with her new capsule style wardrobe.
10. The onward journey
What I use and love now probably won’t be the same in 6 months time and so I’m always evaluating what I have. Getting into the habit of purging my belongings keeps the on-going process simple. I probably take a few items to charity every month and it’s easy to keep on top of things because there is so little to manage.
So if you’re feeling like having a little autumn declutter I wish you the very best of luck. I hope to post about the benefits of clutter-free living very soon, after all there are many and I seem to discover a new one every week.