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I come from a family who never likes to throw out anything. Not even donate it. They think that one day they’ll eventually use it. But because of that, our home always had stuff lying around, stuff we hadn’t used in years. They didn’t know how to let go of items they didn’t need or how to declutter their house.
I eventually ditched that thinking. I decluttered my own stuff often. And when I moved out, I finally felt at peace too.
Decluttering my junk, keeping the stuff that only brought me joy, and living in a tidy home felt like a huge weight came off my chest.
Seeing a cluttered home everyday feels stressful. Thinking you’re messy all the time is toxic. But by taking the leap to declutter your home, you declutter your mind. And that’s why I continue to keep my home clutter free.
Here are my tips to show you how to declutter your house.
How to Declutter Your House
How do I start decluttering?
Everyone’s beef with decluttering and organizing is that they don’t have time so they only put their stuff away. But the problem with that is you’re more likely to see your house messy again. I’m not talking about a floor that hasn’t been swept, but stuff lying around everywhere.
The first step is to set time to declutter. This is going to be a huge task. You might think it may only take a few hours, but it’ll quickly turn into a process that potentially takes weeks.
If you want to take this seriously, you have to intentionally set time for you to start this process.
You Don’t Have to Do it All in One Day
Decluttering your house will probably take weeks. It’s a massive project. So don’t expect yourself to finish it all in one day. If you get overwhelmed, take a break and come back to it a few hours later or the next day. As long as you don’t give up, then you’re making progress.
What are the steps to decluttering?
Go by Category
I loosely follow the Konmari method. Meaning, I’ve never read the book, but watched her series and saw countless YouTube videos. From the Konmari method, Marie Kondo tackles clutter by category. This is the method I use and it works for me.
- Books & Papers
- Linen Closet
- Miscellaneous Stuff
- Sentimental Items
If you notice here, it may seem like you’re going room by room. But categories like clothes or books may be in multiple rooms. You need to pick up any item that belongs in this category and sort them through all at once. Because if you miss it and find it later, you may feel inclined to keep it just because you’re supposedly done with the categories. While I’ve separated bathroom and kitchen, stuff in there are usually specific to the room and are centralized there.
Only Declutter Your Stuff
Now you may be tempted to declutter somebody else’s belongings, but their stuff is not your responsibility to maintain. And they’ll probably be angry at you for tossing their stuff. This applies to roommates and romantic partners. If you have children, feel free to guide them through the process and teach them how to declutter their stuff.
Start With Something Small: You Don’t Have to Overwhelm Yourselves
Choose the category that feels the easiest to you. Depending on the largeness of the category, feel free to downsize even further. For example, if you’re starting with clothes, you may feel that it’s easier to deal with clothes that are hung versus the ones that are folded. For those who feel easily overwhelmed, you should sub-categorize to prevent burnout.
Handle Each Item with Care & Ask Yourself These Questions
- Does This Bring Me Joy?
- The KonMari Method asks you this question to identify which items you keep. And I agree with her method. You should keep the items that truly spark joy, that make you feel good inside, and that don’t spark negative feelings. I used to keep stuff that reminded me of horrible memories that I hadn’t let go because it felt like a waste to give it up. But you can’t let go of these memories and feelings associated with them, if you don’t let go of the stuff that remind you of it.
- Have you used it?
- Some stuff don’t really spark joy, but we feel inclined to keep it. That’s why ask yourself if you’ve used it. If you haven’t, then why are you holding onto it?
- How often do you see yourself using it?
- A lot of the miscellaneous items we keep are stuff we barely use. And while it serves us once in awhile, is it worth holding onto the clutter?
- If I store it, is it worth buying storage solutions for it?
- Sometimes we want to keep stuff because we think we’ll use it later. We spent money on it, so we’re hesitant to throw it away. But storage solutions aren’t cheap either. Think about whether it fiscally makes sense to store it or donate it.
You Don’t Have to Part with Everything
Parting with our stuff is hard. A lot of what we own is sentimental, even the smallest things offer us memories. Even though we’re decluttering, you don’t need to feel pressured to part with everything. If one particular item is really tugging at you, say for example a shirt from your high school days you haven’t worn in years, but you’re not ready to let it go, push it aside. Leave it till the end. This way, you can declutter fast and deal with more stuff in a less amount of time. And at the end, if it’s still pulling at your heartstrings, keep it. Because that simply means this isn’t the time for you to part with it.
Now that you’ve sorted through all your stuff, it’s time to put them away neatly. Part of learning how to declutter your house is knowing how you’re going to organize everything when you’re done. The reason why stuff ends up on the floor, shoved in the closet, or crammed into a junk drawer is because there’s no designated place for them to stay. After having parted with some stuff, you will find that you have more space. Since you’ve already categorized your belongings, place them together where they make the most sense (clothes in the closet, office supplies in the drawers of your desk, and bed sheets in your linen closet). For the truly miscellaneous items, group similar items together, compartmentalize them, and label.
Declutter Your House Again in a Few Months
The key to making your house clutter free is to keep decluttering. And each time you go through this process, you’ll find it easier and much faster to do. You’ll part with stuff you’ve kept this long because you were afraid to let go of it before. You’ll start to only keep the stuff that serves you a purpose in the present.
Even though Marie Kondo says that decluttering should be this grand event, it shouldn’t mean an overwhelming event. It’s a grand event where you free yourself of the stuff that don’t have a place in your life anymore. But it’s also not an event that only takes place once. Like everything in life, you have to practice in order to get better. And with these decluttering tips, you’ll know how to declutter your house each time you do it.
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