We’re all different when it comes to decluttering. Just like we’re all inherently different when it comes to how we keep our homes.
Do you tend toward clutter?
Or toward an OCD level of cleanliness?
Or somewhere in between?
Whatever profile you take on when it comes to clutter, this is the reason it’s so difficult to find the best advice to take. Our differences are what can make some people comment on my YouTube videos about how helpful a certain method is while other people say it doesn’t work and it’s the worst method they’ve ever heard.
You know how internet comments go. Some people are just angry.
That being said, there are some things we can all agree on. That’s what we’re talking about today. This is the “whatever works for you” advice that still applies to everyone.
Establish Clear Rules
In the minimalist world, there are countless systems, games, and methods of decluttering.
Some methods, such as the popular KonMari Method, excite certain people because they love the idea of getting the entire house organized all at once. Others are much less excited as it seems to be an overwhelming task. And finally, others think they want to go KonMari on all their stuff, get started, and realize they’ve made a mistake because they end up biting off more than they can declutter.
Regardless, you’ve got to have some rules and standards that fit your life.
Decide what the rules are and follow them. They need to be realistic. It’s ok if they stretch you outside of your comfort zone a little, but you don’t want to have a mental breakdown either.
Find that balance.
For example, if you struggle with getting rid of things because of the I-might-use-it-later mentality, set a time rule, such as “if I don’t use this item in 3 or 6 months, I will get rid of it.” Find a place to put said item so you’ll know if and when you use it, and put a sticky note on it with the date you decided to start this. For small things, you can put it all in a box with a dated sticky note on top. Again, this is just one example.
To do this, you need to make time for it…
Block Out the Time
One thing we all have in common when it comes to decluttering is a lack of time.
It takes time to go through old things and take them to a thrift store or sell them.
You’ve got to find that time. Intentionally.
Otherwise, you’ll never have time.
I suggest using a schedule for every aspect of your life.
What gets scheduled gets done.
Are you going to devote 30 minutes a week to decluttering? Perhaps you want to get it knocked out sooner so you want to devote four or more hours a week to it?
Or it could be a shorter, but more frequent, time slot — like 10 minutes a day.
Either way, schedule it.
Different systems require different amounts of time…
Find Your System
Now that you have some rules in place and you’ve scheduled your decluttering time, you need to figure out your actual system.
You have options.
Here are a few of them (you can click on several of them to take you to the source):
- KonMari Method – Since it’s so popular, I’ll get this one out of the way. You go item by item and choose which items bring you joy. That’s what you keep. Everything else goes.
- Classic Method – This is often called the Four-Box Method, but it’s really just the original way people decluttered prior to this whole minimalist movement. You take three or four boxes and label them: put away, give away, throw away, and undecided (optional).
- Minimalist Game – The Minimalists created a simple, almost fun, game. It allows you to declutter your entire house over a 30-day period.
- The Junk Snowball – I originally coined that term based on the debt snowball since it’s a similar process. I don’t really call it that anymore, but it seemed fitting to use the name here. It’s a process of decluttering a set amount of items over time.
- Declutter Slowly – Another option that’s great for when you’re feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to set a specific date to be finished. Learn why you keep the things you keep and go at your own pace to get rid of the stuff you don’t need.
- Number Method – This is sometimes called the “One Method,” but I think that’s limited. You just set a number of things to get rid of every day and do it. That’s all. This works best if you commit to not bringing anything new into your home during this time of decluttering.
- In-N-Out – My apologies if I made you hungry with this title, but it’s fitting. Just decide a number of things you have to get rid of for every one thing you bring in. If part of your clutter problem is because of shopping habits, make the number higher. For example, you can buy/bring whatever you want into your home, but for every item that comes in, you get rid of 10 things. Sometimes the chore of getting rid of 10 things stops you from buying the new thing entirely.
- Packing Party – The Minimalists created this one as well. Basically, you pack everything up as if you were moving and you take the things out as you need them. Or, if you are actually moving, try it this way. Instead of trying to unpack everything, just unpack it as you need it. You may be surprised how many boxes are left unpacked after six months or a year.
There are other methods that apply to specific areas. For example, you can put all of your kitchen appliances in the garage and pull them out as you use them. Whatever is still in the garage after six months can go.
For clothing, try the classic hangar trick. Turn all of your clothes around so they’re hanging backward — where the hangar is facing out. As you wear the item, put it back normally — where the hangar is facing in. After six months or so, get rid of everything that’s still turned backward.
That’s enough reading for now. It’s time for action.
Even if it’s a small action, go take action now. But then come back and check out the recommended books below.