MY DECLUTTERING TIPS
During 2014, 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 family and friends. Some asked for decluttering tips while others wondered if I’d simply lost the plot!
Anyway, 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 hoarder so if I can do it anyone can!
1. Getting started
Starting is tough especially when there are so many ways to procrastinate. Set yourself small goals like addressing a cupboard or drawer. Once you see the results and feel the benefits you’ll be motivated to continue. It’s good to start on the quick win areas.
2. What to remove
The toughest part was knowing what to let go of and so came up with two questions:
~ Do I use it?
~ Do I love it?
With these questions in mind, the decision making was simple and it helped me to let go of things I was saving for a rainy day.
3. Duplicate items
I was guilty as charged when it came to duplicates: two tin openers, three bottle openers, hundreds of mugs, unused towels, far too much bedding and so on. Once I’d scaled down everything felt organised and easy to find without the need for tidying. I was amazed at the volume of things I didn’t use yet I was having to wade through them daily 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 Out-of-date items
Out-of-date food and toiletries I bid you farewell.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 so I simply boxed them up with a view to addressing in six months time. Six months on and my unsure items have been taken to charity.
6. Sentimental items
To me, the sentimental items are non-negotiable and so I dedicated one large box to all my keepsakes.
I’ve been collecting for most of my life and so the process took time. I started to scale down my belongings when I moved from a three-bed house into a two-bed apartment three years ago. It was the feelings of space and freedom that motivated me to take the final steps towards a simpler life.
I also found it quite an emotional task. There was a lot of guilt wrapped up in 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 my things. The process has certainly made me think twice before I buy anything new!
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, not to mention queuing at the Post Office.
I’m convinced my neighbours thought we were moving when they saw car-loads of stuff being driven away. We donated most of my hoard to Cancer Research and the remainder 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 the prices low or you will end up bringing it all home with you!
9. Have fun
Decluttering shouldn’t be a bore because the results are so positive. To make the task enjoyable I cranked up my music and took plenty of tea breaks. I also pulled out drawers and decluttered while watching 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 wardrobe. We had a great afternoon and after donating four large bags to charity she was thrilled with her new capsule wardrobe!
10. The onward journey
What I use and love now probably won’t be the same in six months time and so I’m always evaluating what I have. Getting into the habit of purging my belongings keeps the process simple. I probably take a few items to charity each month and it’s easy to keep on top of things because there is so little to manage.
If you’re feeling like having an 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!
You can read all my posts about decluttering, minimalism and simple living here.