What is decluttering and how to start

Perhaps you’ve heard about ‘decluttering’ and thought it sounded interesting. In this post I’ll tell you more about it and answer these questions:

  • Firstly, what is decluttering?
  • Then, what can decluttering do for you and your life?
  • Finally, how do you declutter successfully?

Decluttering in North Wales

What is decluttering?

Decluttering is about weeding out and only keeping those things you love, need or use.

You organise and prioritise your possessions and commitments.

You make places more pleasant and useful.

In other words, you simplify your life!

Decluttering can do so much for you and your life

It can do all the things in this list and more besides!

  • You know what’s actually in your house, your office, your car – and where it is.
  • No more buying things you’ve already got. You’ll stop thinking that thing is somewhere but where on earth is it?
  • You have a warm heart when you give things away, pass things on to charity or recycle.
  • Helping you see and appreciate your special things.
  • You have space – floor space, hanging space, space on shelves, space in the airing cupboard, space on the landing, space in the shed, space in the garage, space in the office … You get the idea.
  • There is room to think your thoughts.
  • Everyday life runs more smoothly. It’s so much easier.
  • There is calm.
  • It seems you have more time.
  • You find you have more money, or less money going out.
  • You can respond to unexpected events.
  • Somehow you feel so much lighter.
  • You’re able to move forward with your life. You feel more optimistic.

Making a start with decluttering

How do you make a start with decluttering? The short answer is however it suits you,  because if it suits you then you will carry on doing it. The key to successful decluttering is to be aware of clutter and to keep at it!

Some people like to declutter all in one go, following the celebrity declutterer Marie Kondo. (She emphasises what to keep, what ‘sparks joy’, rather than what to discard.)

Girl lying on grass cuddling teddy bear. Joy. Decluttering
Teddy bears are well known to spark joy

Another way is to declutter a bit at a time. Some people do this whenever they’ve got a moment or five minutes or half an hour.

Then there is the challenge way. Some people set themselves a challenge – decluttering 10 things every day, for example. Or just one thing every day. That’s 365 things in a year!

It’s perfectly possible to declutter on your own but it’s OK to ask for help! Working with a professional organiser and declutterer helps enormously because they keep things moving and make the process fun and productive.

Read on for some tips and tricks to help you declutter successfully.

Boxes help you declutter successfully

Set out four boxes.

woman with large cardboard box
This is a good big box
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Box 1 is for things you want to keep but which belong somewhere else in the house. You know, those slippers in the garage that should be in the bedroom, the toothbrush that lives in the bathroom but has ended up in the kitchen, the homework under the chair that should really be in someone’s room.

After that, there’s Box 2 for things to be mended. Be realistic about this. Do you still need this item? Are you able to mend it and – the crunch question – will you ever do it?

Box 3 is for things you no longer need that you can give to people or organisations who would appreciate them and make good use of them. For instance, someone might love your 1980s cardigans because they love ‘vintage’ clothes. Similarly, a charity shop could sell those ornaments you don’t like. That sort of thing.

Finally, Box 4 (or perhaps a bin bag) is for those broken or useless things whose time is up. The broken cardboard box that can no longer hold anything at all. An old crisp packet. The jammed stapler that hasn’t worked for years and will never work again. Old newspaper cuttings.

Cat in a box helping with decluttering
Empty boxes are best but we know that finding empty ones can sometimes be difficult …

Categories help you declutter successfully

Sort items into categories so that all similar things are together. Work on just one category at a time, using your keep/mend/give/throw away boxes.

Here are some examples of categories. And a few questions which might help you decide what to do.

All the little black dresses. Which ones do I love? Which ones don’t I like very much? Do they fit? Are any the same?

The crime fiction. Will I read any of these books again? Did some frighten me too much to finish? Are there any duplicates?

All the plastic storage boxes. Do they have lids? And do they fit? Are there lids without boxes? It’s likely that one or two are stained or even smell. 

The children’s jumpers. Do they still fit the children? Are they in reasonable condition? Maybe there are jumpers that nobody will ever wear.

The garden tools. Are any broken beyond repair or downright dangerous? Are there any you don’t use at all and can never envisage using? Could a specialist charity make better use of them than you?

Decluttered garden tools donated to Workaid
Garden tools donated to Workaid https://workaid.org/ Credit: Alastair Holland

Donating and recycling your decluttered items

Recycling your unwanted items, by giving them away or donating them to a charity shop or taking them to your local recycling centre, gives you a lovely warm feeling.

Clothing and other items in good condition are welcomed by charity shops up and down the land. Many also accept clean rags if they are in a clearly marked bag. Always drop off your donations when the shop is open so they reach the right place. You could give to a charity which you support or drop donations off at a place which is easy to reach. Some charities have larger units on industrial estates or retail parks. Unopened food still in date can be given to food banks.

Depending on where you live, the waste collection service can make it easy to recycle your unwanted possessions. In other places it makes better sense to take things directly to the recycling centre. Check online what facilities your local authority provides.

Congratulations! Now you’ve decluttered successfully, what next?

What hard work! Well done! And what a great achievement! Above all, I hope you are basking in your newly decluttered environment and enjoying every moment.

Unfortunately, though, it’s all too easy for clutter to creep back into your life.

Stay alert to the dangers and be aware when clutter appears in your life. You know what to do then: put on your decluttering hat and shoes and get to it!

Woman wearing decluttering hat and decluttering shoes

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