Letting go of belongings isn’t easy for everyone. In our house I’m the minimalist (sometimes extremely so) and my husband tends to lean more toward the pack rat end of things. It hasn’t been easy but over the years we’ve been able to strike a balance between the two extremes.
Being a minimalist doesn’t mean getting rid of everything you love, it just means you appreciate what you have and really thinking before you buy more stuff. On the other side, I have to admit that my husband usually has every bolt, board and tool to make fixes around the house.
If you find you’ve gone too far to the dark-side and your clutter is overtaking the house, garage and closets (to the point where you’re thinking of adding a second shed in the back yard), take a look at my tips below. There can be a happy medium between throwing everything out and having more than enough.
1) Start slow
Decluttering is as much a mental process as a physical process. Don’t procrastinate but start slow…one room or area at a time. Think about the room or closet that is weighing the most on your mind and start there. You know, that corner of the basement where boxes are stacked to the ceiling or the hall closet that’s busting at the seams with clothes you’ve been storing.
2) Employ a helper
My husband and I are very different when it comes to how we view our belongings and house stuff. He has a tendency to say “that’s still good, I can use that later” or “I don’t want to get rid of that, I paid a lot of money for it”.
While it’s good to be frugal and reuse what you have, sometimes good intentions can morph into hoarding-mode pretty quick if you let it. Here’s an example, last week I mentioned to my husband that the garage needed to be cleaned out again. To appease me he went out there and threw away a few things, then came in and said the garage was clean 🙁
Clearly more could be done so I went out to help. The garage is his space so I didn’t want to be too bossy but I did point out things like old paint cans and a broken rake.
My point is, sometimes clutter has been there so long that it becomes almost invisible. Other times, clutter can just be overwhelming to the point where it makes a person shut-down. In these situations it can be helpful to have someone you trust to help you determine what should stay and what should go.
3) Three questions to ask yourself when clearing clutter
When you’re trying to look objectively at clutter and decide if an item should stay or go, ask yourself these three questions:
- Do I have duplicates of this item?
- Have I used this item in the past year or will I ever use it again?
- Does this item bring me joy?
4) Put items to donate in a one month “hold” pile
I have to admit, over the years I’ve thrown out a few items I wished I hadn’t. I tend to throw out more things than I should when I go into minimalist mode. For this reason I now put items that I plan to donate in a “hold” pile for one month. One month seems to be enough time to really be sure that I don’t really need the items. Occasionally I’ll fish through the pile for something I was planning to donate and keep it, but it doesn’t happen too often. After one month, I gather up everything and drop it off at Goodwill.
5) Enjoy your clutter-free space
Ahh…no piles of stuff and roomy closets. I love how an organized space can make you feel calm and in control.
If you’ve been living with clutter for a while, you’ll truly appreciate an organized space even more. Enjoy it and don’t fill it up with more stuff. You’ve worked hard so don’t go to the dark-side again!
Do you have a great tip on how to stay organized? Share your ideas in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!