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It’s no secret that I used to be a hoarder. I would purchase piles of clothes, unnecessary items and things I thought I might need one day. Everything was “sentimental” to me, so I kept a lot of random items throughout elementary school all the way up to high school. I felt like I had to keep every little thing to fill an unfulfilled hole in my heart.
But, in the last couple of years I became serious about living minimally and I started reading books that helped me free myself from the hold that possessions had over my life.
One of the books that changed my perspective over my belongings and taught me how to live a more holistic lifestyle is “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Talk about game-changer.
Note: I still use a lot of Marie’s method’s to this day as part of my regular decluttering routine, which is why some of the tips below may sound similar.
The Ultimate Guide To Decluttering
Since becoming a minimalist, I have donated and given away most of my belongings, only to keep the things that I truly need. Minimalism has changed my life for the better, and I know it can help others as well.
If you are serious about living a more simplistic, clutter-free life, than this in-depth guide will help you achieve your goals.
How To Declutter: Minimalism 101
Visualize the life you wish to have with a clutter-free space. Ask yourself, “What does a life free of clutter mean to me? What would that look like?” For me, I visualized a space where I could better express my creativity and share a laugh with friends.
These were put aside when I felt the overwhelm of dealing with everyday messes. I learned quickly that I needed to let go of things to make room for the items that truly matter. The clutter kept me distracted from enjoying what mattered most in my life: health, relationships, time, growth, passion and more. That’s when I knew I needed to change and minimalism came at the perfect time.
Schedule time to declutter
Sorting through things and letting them go takes time, but after you do, you will feel a weight lift off your shoulders.
The entire decluttering process could take several days to a week or longer, depending on how many items you have, so take it slow and try not to overwhelm yourself.
I like to write out a list of major areas in my house that need work and then I take on one room at a time. Breaking the process up into baby steps makes the process so much easier and overwhelming. Remember, it’s not a race and if it takes you awhile – that’s okay. As long as you are reaching your goals, then in the end, how long you took doesn’t really matter.
Take on one category at a time
It can be really overwhelming to tackle everything in your house all at once, so I would suggest taking on one category at a time. I always like to start with clothes because it is the biggest category for me to take on which is why I like to get it out of the way first. For you it may be books, papers, shoes, office supplies, dishware, etc. The Konmari method asks you to declutter in the following order, yet I don’t follow this to a “T”.
- Komono (miscellanious items)
- Mementos (sentimental items)
Put everything into piles
Walk through your house and find all of the items from one category (e.x. clothing) that are scattered around and put them all into one large pile. You want to make sure you didn’t leave any items astray as you want them to all be in one spot so you can visually see them. This spot can be your bed, couch, the floor – any large open space to place them.
Make space for three piles, “donate,” “throw away,” and “keep.” If you make a 4th pile, “sell”, then make sure you will actually take the time and energy to sell those items. Give yourself a deadline to sell them by so you hold yourself accountable. I usually give myself a month and if I don’t get it sold, then I give it away.
Ask yourself questions
Once you have collected all of the items into one pile, hold each one-by-one, and ask yourself a few questions, like “Does this spark joy in my life? Does this add value to my life? Is this something I can’t live without?”
By evaluating each item, you learn to prioritize what adds the greatest value, happiness and meaning to your life. While asking yourself questions, really feel the item, study it and listen to your intuition. Some of the things that spark joy for you won’t make sense and that’s okay. If you can hold an item, say without a doubt that you truly love it and feel it in your gut, then it’s worth keeping.
By going through this process, you may quickly find that you own a lot of possessions with little to no value. If the items are redundant and don’t benefit you, then give it to someone who will truly need and cherish it. Your home is a safe haven and should only contain items that add value to your life.
Organize + Purge
After evaluating each item, thank it for its service in your life and place it into one of your three piles. It may seem a little strange, but thanking your items before you say goodbye might help you move on more easily; I know it did for me.
If an item is un-useable and worn out, then it’s best to just throw it away. However, if it’s decent and useable, then I would suggest donating to a thrift store or charity. If you are dedicated to selling an expensive item, then Facebook marketplace and Craigslist are great places to start. Once you sort through one category, move onto the next until you have sorted through every item in your house.
Lies we tell ourselves
When decluttering, one of the lies that we tell ourselves is that we need to hold onto an item because we may use it “someday,” yet “someday” never comes. It’s easy to list off reasons we feel we “need” to keep something, but needing something isn’t the same as wanting something nor recognizing it for its intrinsic value. If you aren’t using the item now and haven’t in a while, chances are you won’t get around to it in the future.
Another lie we tell ourselves is that we need to keep something “just in case” some unforeseen circumstance arises in the future. Yet, you need to ask yourself, “What is the likelihood of that happening?” Usually this scenario never happens, and if it does by some odd chance, then we usually forget about the item that we were going to use “just in case” or we find other means to solve the issue.
These are the hardest to sort through and is an area everyone struggles with. I completely understand wanting to keep valuable items and I am not here to say you can’t or you shouldn’t. All I am advocating for is to limit the amount of sentimental items you have. If you view everything you own as “sentimental” than things can get out of hand pretty fast (I used to be this way, which is part of the reason I became a hoarder). I would suggest prioritizing the items of most importance to you out of your stockpile. By keeping only the most special items, you highlight their importance and value instead of them letting them get lost in the sea of things to focus on.
Do you have any decluttering tips or suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!