“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” William Morris
Research has shown that clutter can increase our stress levels. “Mess causes stress” as they say. The more stuff we have the more debt we incur, the more to clean, the more time and energy to waste on things that don’t really make us happier.
The more I look around the more clutter I see and it does feel rather overwhelming. It has probably taken 20 years to get to this state so it’s not going to be done and dusted in an evening! I have decided to analyse the situation first, prioritise and start with small manageable chunks. There are two main issues to tackle:
- Stuff that’s already found its way in, including the clutter
- The flow of new stuff that comes into the home everyday, much of it unwelcome
So let’s start with the stuff that’s already found its way in.
Here are some practical tips that I have found useful to get us started with decluttering:
Step 1: Prepare to declutter
I have found it helpful to have to hand:
- a recycling bag,
- a re-use bag e.g. items that could be reused for craft projects for the kids
- a box for the charity shop,
- a box for items to sell e.g. on eBay
- and as the very last resort, the rubbish bag.
Step 2: Start clearing out the obvious clutter
For me this includes piles of old magazines, the unopened mail, leaky shoes and stuff the children have grown out of, such as sippy cups to baby books.
Step 3: Make a habit of decluttering a small amount each day
I set myself achievable targets. This could be decluttering one drawer, one cupboard or a patch of kitchen worktop. If, like me, the prospect of spending a whole day decluttering is just not practical this is the best alternative. I prioritise one room at a time, starting with the one that is frustrating me the most.
Step 4: Observe what you frequently use / less frequently use / never use
As I go about my daily business I try to observe what I actually use. This helps when it comes to decision making. If I haven’t used something in 2 years am I likely to ever use it?
Step 5: Begin to create space in cupboards and drawers for the stuff you use frequently
This may sound obvious but I have found that everything I use is “on top”; on top of cupboards, my desk and worktops for instance. Beneath this top layer is loads of stuff I haven’t used for years. As I attack these sub-surface layers I can begin to create clear surfaces, a sense of space and a feeling of accomplishment that the decluttering is starting to have an effect.
Step 6: The “Oh-too-tricky” Box
Sometimes I get into a good rhythm of clearing out and then I get stuck on one or two items which could de-rail the process. I have found that having an “oh-too-tricky” box is a good idea, I pop the items in, seal it and store it away. If I haven’t missed anything in it in, say, 6 months then it should be given away. I have found this particularly useful for clothes.
Over the next few weeks I will look at establishing new ways of thinking and simple routines that will help beat the clutter and free our homes. I’ll also be looking at “10 Questions to ask before going shopping!”