The saying goes 'One man's trash is another man's treasure'. That's all well and good, but what if your trash is masquerading as your treasure? Enter the decluttering craze. Until about 5 years ago we didn't know we were supposed to declutter. We just threw stuff out occasionally when we ran out of space or moved house. Sometimes we took the bits that were still fine but didn't fit down to Vinnies or the Salvos. Now decluttering is a million dollar business. There are TV shows, blogs, websites, books and whole companies all devoted to teaching us the fine art of decluttering.
Whether you're searching for home organisation or life organisation, decluttering a wardrobe or your whole house, many of us are endeavouring to live simpler lives, with less stuff. Why? Because we are told, it will bring peace and the abundance of great things into our lives, and free us from the burden of our mess. Or maybe it's because we are so over never being able to find anything in our homes.
After reading lots (seriously, loads) on the decluttering movement (pun intended) we think they might just be onto something. There are many great reasons to give it a go, even if you don't achieve peace you could be living in less chaos and might even free up a shelf or two in the process.
10 great reasons to declutter
- easily find the things you actually use
- less to clean
- less mess to navigate around
- become more productive
- make your home easier to sell
- reduce stress
- discover the bits you haven't used for ages buried under all the stuff you don't
- save money on wasted food - regularly decluttering your kitchen pantry reduces the amount of food thrown out because it's passed the used-by-date
- moving house? Less to pack or store
- it feels great
How to declutter
The basic principle is to get as many of the things we don't use, need, or want out of our homes. The recommended method is to gradually sort through your home, room by room, cupboard by cupboard sorting everything into 3 boxes or piles as you go.
Box 1 - Keep
Use this box for the things you actually love and use. Not because you think you should love them or use them.
How many of your possessions are kept out of guilt? Grandma's old pottery bowl with the crack in it, the blender you were given as a wedding present which hasn't been used in 4 years or the treadmill which has been involved in at least three New Years resolutions so far but still gathers dust under the bed, these are all examples of guilt clutter.
Box 2 - Donate
Use this box for anything which still has value, is in good condition and could be used by someone else.
We need to get past the idea that anything we donate is going to 'the poor people'. People from all walks of life use second-hand goods stores for a myriad of different reasons so don't try to justify keeping clothes or household items because you can't think of a reason someone more disadvantaged might want it. Just put it in the box.
Remember - charity stores can't accept electrical appliances, white goods or mattresses for safety and hygiene reasons.
Perceived value Often the perceived value or money spent on an item stops us from getting rid of it. We feel like we're wasting money by throwing it out. Most of us have that one thing, maybe it's a leather jacket or dress (insert applicable expensive item of clothing here), that we spent big $$$ on which doesn't go with anything else in the wardrobe (or maybe it's just seriously out of fashion) which we can't part with because of the money spent. This is not a good reason to keep things, the money is gone, no regrets, it's time to move on.
If you can't bring yourself to donate your more expensive items sell them on eBay or gumtree, have a garage sale or book a stall at a car boot sale.
Box 3 - Throw out
This box is pretty self-explanatory. Don't be afraid to use it, be brutal. If it's broken, odd, out of shape, stained, worth less than a couple of dollars or not donatable, chuck it.
As you go around your home and the boxes fill up, make sure you take immediate action with the contents. Place everything back on the newly cleaned and clear shelves, drawers or racks from box 1. Bag up and transfer everything in box 2 to your car for a trip to Vinnie's. Make sure it leaves the house as soon as possible. Take a walk to the wheelie bin with box 3.
Repeat until the house is clutter free, and you have found peace. Ok, maybe you won't find peace but it will sure feel great to have simplified and organised your home.