Thursday, 30 October 2014

Decluttering - Making a Start

'Decluttering' is quite the buzz word at the moment and it's something I've been trying to do for a while.

What's the problem?

It seems that a lot of us are feeling bogged down by all the possessions we have crowding our homes.  Surfaces covered, drawers and cupboards stuffed full.  Finding anything becomes increasingly difficult and more frustrating.  Then there are the items in the depths of those drawers and cupboards that haven't seen the light of day in quite some time - a lot of them completely forgotten about.  It begs the question, why do we even have them?

Think how much space and effort is expended storing these possessions, maintaining them, tidying and organising them (when we do eventually tackle those messy storage spots).

What's the solution?

Only one thing for it - a good old clear out!

At the beginning of this year, I embarked on the project 'Less 365'.  The idea is to try to get rid of one item every day for a year.  The way I approached this was to print out a 2014 calendar and cross out a day for every item I remove from my home - whether it be to give it to charity or to throw it away (depending on what it is and its condition).  I have decluttered clothes, books, CDs, DVDs, amongst a lot of other random bits and bobs.  I didn't wear, read, listen to, or watch them any more, so it was a great feeling to know they were no longer taking up valuable space in my home.

Rather than remove an item a day, I have clear-out sessions where I tend to purge multiple objects - that means I can cross quite a few days off the calendar in one hit.  This helps to tide me over on the days (or months, ahem) I don't declutter.  Sometimes I'm ahead of the date and other times I'm behind it, but I will make sure that by the time 31st December arrives I have crossed every day off the calendar!

The calendar could be considered unnecessary, but I enjoy marking the dates off (because I like that kind of thing!) and it's a record showing that I'm achieving what I set out to do.  It also helps focus me to have a goal of a certain number of items that need to be removed.  Without that, I'm not sure I would have stayed disciplined and kept on purging.  However, it's down to what works for you individually - there are no rules!

Some argue that this method of getting rid of one thing a day isn't enough.  New articles are brought into our homes on a regular basis, and we need to do more than this.  My view is that it is a good way to start off.  Something achievable.  The new possessions would have come home with me anyway, but I'll still end up with 365 less things in my house than I would have had.

Stopping the influx of items into our home is a topic for another day, but for now here are my tips on making a start on tackling the clutter currently taking up space in our homes:


  • Attempt to declutter an item a day, but don't be constrained by that - you can purge as much as you like!  Or if you'd rather set a lower goal, maybe aim for 30 items in 2 or 3 months - pick an amount you feel comfortable with.
  • If you are feeling daunted, start small.  Clearing out just one drawer is achievable and will make you feel as though you are making progress.  Experiencing how much simpler it is to use that drawer afterwards will spur you on to tackle the next spot.
  • Have a box or bag in an allocated place to fill with items for charity.  Next time you know you'll be passing a charity shop, grab it and take it with you.
  • Don't be too hard on yourself - every item you remove is progress!  Work at your own pace, there are no deadlines.

This is just skimming the surface when it comes to decluttering.  It is just the start, and only applies to physical possessions.  In future posts I hope to look into the other aspects that are cluttering our lives, our minds, and our time.

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