What does it feel to come back home to a floor strewn with toys, dirty laundry, old magazines, and various odds and ends? Most people feel a wave of irritation sweep over them. Can you work at a desk spilling over with papers of the old-receipts-you’ll-never-need kind, stationery, and craft materials you don’t use? You will probably spend more time hunting for things here than doing what you are supposed to do. Clutter is not only bothersome but also deeply disturbing.
More stuff means more debt, more time wasted to manage it, and more effort spent in hunting for lost things. So you have less time to relax or do what makes you happy. This cannot be a happy situation for anybody. Clutter robs your inner peace.
A decluttering drive is not a dreadful task. Keep the following tips in mind to simplify your task and achieve more fulfilling results.
1. Start small.
You have accumulated the clutter over several years, so don’t expect to get rid of it in a day. Trying to declutter the whole house in a day or a week can be an impossible challenge and will leave you dejected with the results. Start small. You can begin with one room a day. If there is too much to do in that room, downsize your ambitions and concentrate on just the closet. You can even do one drawer a day. It does not matter how much space you manage to clear as long as you begin the decluttering mission and feel motivated to sustain it.
2. Identify the clutter.
Be ruthless when you are at this. Toss out outdated newspapers, expired coupons, old high school papers, and clothes that no longer fit you. If that unfinished craft has been languishing in the attic for years, discard it. If you have not managed to mend all those broken items, you never will. So get rid of these too.
A good way to identify clutter is to pick up an object and think if you have used it in the past year. If you have not, then it is likely you will not use it in future. This is junk. Of course, this does not include objects like tax documents and sentimental keepsakes. But you got the idea, right?
But what if you are not sure you will need something after you have thrown it away? Here’s a great way to find out if an object is as essential as you think it to be. Do not throw or give away the object. Instead keep it out of sight for a few weeks or a month or two. Do you miss it? No. Do you need it? No. Then it is an “inessential” in your life, and maybe the Salvation Army will have better use for it.
3. Don’t let clutter return.
It is not enough to clear junk from your closets and drawers. To remain clutter-free, make sure the junk does not return. Keep your possessions to bare minimum by not giving in to impulse shopping. Here’s a good ploy to contain clutter—make it a point to get rid of an object when you buy or receive another of the same kind. For instance, donate your old pair of jeans when you buy a new one.
Another effective way to contain clutter is to resolve not to buy anything but only essential items. But how do you determine what is essential? Here’s a simple trick. Whenever an ad or a friendly recommendation manages to convince you that you “need” something, do not just go out and buy it or order online. Instead tell yourself you will try to go a day or two without the item. If you can go without it for some days, resolve not to buy the item for a week more. If you go without that object for a week and your life does not come to a standstill, you know you don’t “need” it.
4. Enjoy the emptiness.
Once you have cleared a space, revel in the emptiness. Notice how easy it has now become to function in this space—no more tripping over things, no more lost stuff, and no more unsightly piles of objects. Enjoy the space you have carved out; this emptiness will motivate you to remain clutter-free.
Cluttered spaces hamper performance. Clutter is an eyesore. You may not realize it immediately but being in the midst of clutter for long drains your mental energy. According to the Chinese, clutter prevents Qi or positive life energy from flowing freely through a space. It is no surprise that decluttering is the golden rule of Feng Shui. So the next time you feel the blues for no apparent reason, try clearing out your desk or emptying the closet.