If like me, and the words shopaholic, knick-nacks, nostalgia, and storage container were far more familiar than minimalist, decluttering or living with less, then hopefully these tips will help you get started and point you in the right direction. I am a long way from minimalist, and don’t think that is necessarily where I want to get to. However I do already really appreciate the benefits of clearing through all the stuff. I’ve created a list of six ways to help you get started and find success in your decluttering :
Start with the boring cupboards
You are far less likely to be emotionally attached to towels, and bedsheets. So to avoid wrestling with sentimentality when you first begin the process. Places like the Linen cupboard, and Kitchen Drawers are great places to start. Chances are there’s a huge amount just prime to be decluttered. Plus there’s much less likely hood you’ll get sidetracked by trips down memory lane, or looking through long lost treasures.
And the cupboards you avoid
The likes of the dreaded linen cupboard, the sock drawer, or the infamous ‘bits and bobs’ kitchen drawer, filled me with a sense of doom, a search for one simple item could take me an incomparable amount of time, and often still resulted in a fruitless search. However, these are by far the best investment of your decluttering focus. Tell yourself, that after this little effort, you’ll never do battle with batteries, or buried in bath towels again. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to find what you’re looking for in an instant.
It sounds a little obsessive, but keep a tally of what you’re sorting through. It is a great way to re-enforce why you need to declutter, it gives you a great sense of achievement when you cut that number down by three quarters, and it’ll probably make you laugh at the ridiculousness of it all too. A recent minimalist inspired attack on my linen cupboard resulted in (but not limited to): 21 pillow cases, 18 towels, 6 cot sheets (yet we don’t even use a cot anymore), and 5 towel bath robes ( not to mention the 4 non-towel robes in the next room). Considering this is a household of 2 adults and a toddler, we had enough Manchester to open up a Day Spa.
Return to the same cupboard
So I’ve said you need to start with the cupboards you avoid like the plague, and now I’m telling you to return to them over and over? Yep, pretty much. I found this a really handy technique when getting started. I would pick out a few items I knew definitely could go, and then a matter of hours, or even days later, I would look again, and reason that actually several more could go.
If in doubt, put it in the shed
If you’re struggling to make the final cut, and that little voice in your head is sneaking in with justifications “what if we redecorate and need five spare double sheets”, “what if five friends give birth simultaneously and all need cot sheets”, this can be a good compromise. Try putting the ‘potential to go’ pile in the shed, or under the bed, set a reminder in your phone for one/three/six months time, and make a deal with yourself that if it’s been untouched and unthought about by then, it really is time to go.
Remind yourself why
If you find your motivation is slipping, make a list of why you embarked on this in the first place, be that to make your home less stressful, more efficient and less messy, to enable you the freedom to move or go traveling with ease. Listen to motivational podcasts around minimalism (such as the fabulous slow home) while you’re decluttering. Think about those who can benefit from all the unused items you’re donating, or the money you can earn on Ebay. And most importantly of all focus on your core values: people are irreplaceable, things are not, and memories live in your mind, not in material goods.