If we want to declutter our homes or our lives, we need to understand the basics of the process.
Cleaning is the reduction in appearance of mess. Think of cleaning like taking items off the surfaces in your home, dusting, or disinfecting. When it comes to your stuff, it’s not really anything except clearing the surface areas — throwing things in a junk drawer, shoving clothes into your closet or under your bed, sweeping up dust and debris, or wiping down furniture. Essentially, you’re making your clutter look shiny. Keep in mind, cleaning is still a great part of the process, but it comes last.
Organizing, on the other hand, is taking that mess and rearranging it. You might think you’re cleaning or decluttering, but really, you’re just moving your stuff around again. At its core, organizing is a false sense of space. Organizing is well-planned hoarding. Once you’ve decluttered, it’s important to have a system to keep your space clear. Organizing is great for after you’ve decluttered — you have less stuff to put places and your ordering system will help you maintain a decluttering mindset.
Finally, decluttering is where the magic happens. Decluttering is the removal of items to create space. It’s not moving items to a different place in your home. It is clearing your environment and getting rid of things that don’t give you value. You are removing the excess from your home. Decluttering is eliminating the clutter to create actual space. If you can empty your space of nonessential things, you can focus more on the stuff that matters — which isn’t actually stuff.
You can read my take on starting minimalism and how it made me a better writer. While you don’t have to be as extreme, nor do you need to start writing, that piece is a good place to start. You can also learn more as I talk about the clarity in minimalism. Just because you’re starting to declutter doesn’t mean you have to join the minimalism movement. It’s what helped me and using that experience might inspire you to take a serious look at your stuff. If you aren’t prepared to read those articles, here are the biggest takeaways.
• Increased confidence
• Better energy
• Improved mental health
• Reclaimed time
• Increased productivity
• Strengthened creativity
• Stress reduction
• Reassessment of attachment to things
Are you sold yet?
We know what we can get out of decluttering, but how exactly do we start?
Remember when I asked you in the introduction to pick one space to claim as your first decluttering project? Now it’s time to take action. I want you to tackle that entire space by this time next week (or sooner!). If you need help figuring out how exactly to get rid of things, check out the article above or you can see Zen Habits’ five-minute decluttering tips. The key is to start small.
One item a day + One room a week
Speaking of small, try to get rid of one item a day. If you’re feeling extra ruthless with your stuff, trash or donate one item a day as well as tackling one space a week. By starting out with a time limit, say ten minutes, you can keep focused without getting overwhelmed. Even if the room isn’t finished by the end of your time, you can still continue if you have momentum, or you can go at it again tomorrow. If you need a step-by-step idea of how to declutter, check out this piece on decluttering your office. You can apply this to your office or a room at home, just adapt the steps to fit your needs.
30 Day Minimalism Game
If you’re up for a real challenge, take the 30-day minimalism challenge. On day one, you get rid of one thing. Hey, that’s easy! On day two, eliminate two things. Day three, three things… you get the picture. By day fifteen, you’re really starting to struggle. At the end of the month, you’ve gotten rid of a whole lot of stuff! You won’t miss it, though. You’re getting rid of the excess, the clutter, the things you don’t need.
STILL NOT SURE WHAT TO DECLUTTER?
Fear not. It’s time to figure out what exactly we can get rid of. The answer?
There is no limit to the things you can declutter. Ideally, we are getting rid of physical items around the home. Things such as broken items, duplicates of things, clothes, stuff we haven’t touched in years, shoes, expired fridge items, scrap papers and notebooks, and more. Here’s a question to ask yourself about each item, and it goes beyond “does this spark joy”.
Does this add value to my life?
When you ask this question, you start to discover items that really don’t benefit you. You question why you’ve held on to an old shirt that no longer fits or has holes in it. Is this item serving a purpose? Does it make my life better, or does it get in the way? Break through to the real things, go in with a ruthless attitude, and purge the excess.
Get personalized help from this skeptic-turned-minimalist with a free introductory call. I’ll help you get clear on your values, productivity, and passion. You can also get great productivity resources from my newsletter.