OG is so lucky. She was showered with Christmas gifts by her grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Of course, that means we ended up with more toys than any one child ever needs.
It was clear that I needed to do some toy downsizing, and while deciding which old toys would go to make room for the new ones I realized that the rest of my house could definitely benefit from a post Christmas de-clutter too.
Do you need to declutter your home too?
With a 2 year old who wants to see, touch and play with anything I pick up, decluttering sweeps are sometimes few and far between. But that’s OK. It’s OK if it takes me some time to get rid of the excess, and it’s OK if it takes you time too.
Wherever your home is right now on the clutter scale, you can make great improvements with these 5 steps to declutter your home.
1. Recognize that a clutter problem is about more than just the presence of clutter
Sometimes the things that are supposed to make our lives easier end up adding to the stress and noise in our lives. How much time do we waste cleaning and maintaining the things that are supposed to save us time?
Getting rid of clutter is just one piece of the puzzle. Maintaining a clutter-free home is an ongoing process.
It’s important to figure out why clutter keeps creeping in and address how to stop it. Without a plan for keeping clutter out of your home it will return.
2. Get rid of the excess
One of my very favorite quotes is:
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”- William Morris
It’s a really great guideline for decluttering.
To declutter your home, start with one room and two boxes. If a whole room is too overwhelming for you then start with one surface, corner, closet, or drawer. Put anything you know you want to get rid of (things that are not useful or beautiful) into one box and put anything you don’t want to get rid of (yet!) but does not belong where it currently is into the other box.
Choose a day and time to bring donations to wherever you are bringing them, otherwise boxes of donation can become it’s own clutter!
3. Find a home for what you want to keep
Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding or creating the right home for an item.
Find or create a home for the things in the second box that are useful or beautiful. When things have a home they are less likely to create clutter on counters, shelves or furniture.
Matt found a box of matches in our guest room that had been there since we moved in 3 years ago. Before that, who knows how long it was in our apartment.
Matt moved it into our basement where our wood fire is and now we use those matches almost every day. Just by finding the right home for the matches Matt turned clutter into something useful.
Take another look at the other objects in the second box and ask yourself why you want to keep it.
Have you had it for a long time? Is it something someone special gave you? Are you afraid you may need it someday? Can you live without it?
If you are still having trouble parting with some things put them into a dated box and put it away in a closet. Give yourself a time period, say a year, and if you haven’t needed to use the objects in the box before the year is up then donate the box. You may not even remember what is in it!
4. Implement habits to manage clutter
Learning new habits that help keep clutter at bay will help your home seem more orderly and open and will also reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning and organizing.
Set aside 5-15 minutes a day (or multiple times a day) to clear clutter from counters and other places that it often accumulates in your home. It’s surprising how much can be done in 5 minutes.
Evaluate the clutter you see each day. Is the same object being left out? Does this object need a better, more accessible home?
Learn to deal with things now instead of later. Open and deal with mail when it comes in. Put ingredients back when you finish cooking, etc.
5. Slow down the intake flow
The more stuff we bring into our homes the more stuff there is to find a home for, to decide to get rid of, or to trip over. There are many ways to reduce what comes in so we don’t have to spend so much time dealing with clutter later. It helps save money too, which is always nice.
Refuse freebies that will just add to clutter—just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s useful. If you wouldn’t spend money on it, you probably don’t really want it.
Do less window shopping (which can easily turn into real shopping) and always bring a list when you do need to shop. When you’re tempted to buy something on impulse ask yourself these questions:
How often will I use this item? What will I use it for? Can I borrow it instead of buying? Where will I store it when I get it home? How much time will I spend maintaining it?
Bonus tip: Consider the size of your space
Is your space filling up because there is just too much of it? Maybe consider downsizing to a smaller home. If there is less open space you are less likely to cram it full of junk and more likely to think twice before bringing home more junk!
That William Morris quote is great! That’s a good perspective to keep in mind when sorting through things in the house!
It works for me :)
For me every tool/gadget must perform at least double duty. I don’t have the space or the desire have specialized items haunting me. I use a Dutch oven because it can do the job of a slow cooker plus lots of other things. Duplicating technology is something else I avoid–no need for a digital camera, because my phone has a camera. Combination items are a must, like my printer, scanner, copier, FAX all in one. And I consolidate my cleaning & hygiene products whenever I can.
Besides saving money, less stuff saves time (because you don’t have to search through other things looking for what you need) and saves work (one less thing to dust, wash, sweep under etc).
Thanks for the post–I think I’ll go purge my sock drawer now.
Yes, gadgets or technology that does double duty is vital!
We live in a small house and have major “storage issues”.
One day I had a lightbulb moment inspired after playing the game “Unblock Me” (identical to the car game Rush Hour…without cars)
Too many things “cluttering up” our lives are gifts that are dust catchers, things never worn etc. To “shake” the grip of “XYZ gave this to me & that’s the only reason I still have it” and not a cherished item we’re “in love with” I decided to make a game of how-much-stuff-can-be-piled in one spot in a center location to gauge how much space those things take up, then gel on whether or not we’d “miss” those things if they weren’t here vs how much stress these things cause by being in the way, shuffled around etc.
Taking the above point of view has been very liberating & helps cut down clutter.
That’s a great way to see your stuff for what it really is. Thanks for sharing!