Why You Need to Declutter (and How!)
If you’re anything like me, clutter in your home creates clutter in your brain. And I’m going to be honest, I need ZERO help in that department. My phone goes off all day, my dogs randomly whine and beg for my attention, and my husband…my poor husband. He’s off to the side somewhere reading a book and waiting for me to finish whatever it is I’m doing so I can ramble to him for 5 minutes about every video of every cute animal I saw on the internet that day and then probably fall asleep. To say I have been struggling for focus these days is a real understatement. I now have this space where I create and connect, and while it’s been a lot of fun (!!!!), it’s also one more thing to focus my energy on. And you know what? There is only so much energy to go around!
Whenever I have something I need to do, if the house is even a little out of kilter, my knee-jerk response is to deal with that first. I’m *trying* to release my expectations of what I want our house to look like at all times #iblamethedogs but it isn’t exactly working out. Currently, my house is waaaay past the point of sanity (for me, anyways). If you’re in the same boat, pick me up at the dock — I’ll bring the margaritas!
Here are some tips that help me declutter and get my brain back so I can focus on things that are actually important! Don’t worry, I'm already taking my own advice first thing this weekend before I make us all lose our minds ;)
Step 1: Pump up the jams!
If you have a work out playlist, this is the time to bust it out. I don’t work out, but I do have yoga pants, a very loud bluetooth speaker, and a premium Spotify account with access to the entire Britney Spears catalog, so who’s the real winner here? Also, if you’re doing this with someone else who maybe isn’t as motivated as you are, let them play DJ for a little bit! I can deal with my husband non-ironically blasting Korn until it makes our neighbors’ ears bleed if it means he’s working towards pairing up the 900 mismatched socks overflowing from his dresser.
Step 2: Take everything out of the room that doesn’t have a “home”
Stacks of papers, laundry, your husband’s intramural basketball gear, flooring samples, boxes of crap your work keeps shipping you that you don’t know what to do with — get it all out of there. Place these items in another room with enough space to sprawl out and really sort through them. And if you have a pet that thinks everything he sees is a toy, maybe put those things in a room with a door. Or don’t, and then everything he destroys can just go in the trash! Problem solved!
Step 3: Make that room #goalsAF
Clean, straighten, and organize the room to where you’re actually happy with it. Maybe that involves dusting and reworking a bookshelf. Maybe it means putting fresh sheets on the bed and then making it up with all the pillows that typically live in a pile on the floor. Whatever it is, do it to it! When everything looks how you want it to look, you’ll be more motivated to get through the next step. Then, you won’t be tempted to just toss everything back in there when you’re tired and impatient and wanting to watch Netflix.
Step 4: Sort through your belongings
First of all, if you made it through the first 3 steps and don’t feel like taking this one on yet, it’s okay. Hey, at least you got started, right? But if you’re ready to keep this train rolling, then bust out the Red Bull and your greatest hits collection because it’s about to get (Ms. Jackson if you’re) nasty.
Sorting through your possessions is exhausting and oftentimes emotional. When I’m trying to pare down my wardrobe, I go through this mental marathon of thinking about where I bought something, how much I paid for it, if I wore it enough, if I would ever want to wear it again, if my kids (who don’t even exist yet??) would want it, etc. And honestly, the only thing that matters is if I truly want it and if it works for me or not.
Think about the purpose of the space you’re working on and if your belongings fit into your ideal usage of that space. For example, I want our mudroom to reasonably contain the recycling. I also want it to have an area where we keep our shoes (or at least an area where we can sit to remove them). And, I want my work items to be stored away in the mudroom closets instead of strewn on the floor. What is the purpose of your space? And do your items fit in your vision of it? If not, it might be time to kick of some of those items to the curb! Keep this in mind as you go through your belongings!
I sort everything into piles: keep, donate, trash, recycle, and shred. As you move through your belongings, if they have a place in the space you’re working on, return them to that space. If they don’t, consider getting rid of those items or investing in organizational materials like storage bins, trays, and jars (cardboard boxes are okay, but spiders like to hang out there, so you’ve been warned!). Get whatever you need to keep things tidy, easy to find, AND easy to return to their place. If it’s too difficult of a system to follow, then you won’t stick with it. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything...
Step 5: Get rid of your junk!
Everyone’s junk is different. Mine is random hair products I used before I even got into haircare, makeup samples that I’m never going to try, mail that piles up on the kitchen counter, supplies I’ve saved for future craft projects that will never see fruition, shoes that are uncomfortable AF but "I might need them one day." But you know what they say about one man’s trash — it will rattle around in his car until his wife gets fed up and cleans it out LOLLLL. Oh, and also, someone else might want it! I’ve donated hair products to neighbors and makeup samples to clients. I’ve recycled what I could from the endless amounts of ads and credit card applications we get in the mail. And I’ve found ways to organize my craft supplies a little better. It’s not perfect, but it’s something.
So what can you you do with your stuff?
Sell it! If you have items you want to get rid of, but only if you can sell them — you can take them to a buy-back store or consignment shop, or you can have a fun clothes swap event with your lady-friends! I have friends who have good luck with sites like Ebay and Poshmark, but I’m not one of those people. If you want to try to sell the items yourself, put them in a box or storage container. If you haven’t done anything with them for a few months, it’s time to donate. Or maybe you can find a friend who will sell them for you for a cut of the profit. Also, as someone who still has an embarrassingly large collection of Beanie Babies, let me tell you that the likelihood of whatever it is you’re hanging onto increasing or holding its initial value is minimal. Unless it’s something like a Gucci belt, in which case you can donate that to me, thanks ;)
Donate it! If you have items you don’t have the patience to try to sell yourself, but you think they still have value, there are plenty of places to donate them: Goodwill, Salvation Army, churches, local families in need, even animal shelters! Did you know shelters accept old towels and blankets? Some even accept furniture so the animals can feel more at home! AWWW!
Toss it! If you’re sure that what you have has ZERO value to the point where you can’t even give it away, it’s time to toss it. Say thanks for the memories, and then send it to that big dumpster in the sky.
Much like dieting, for it to work, decluttering is a constant process. Here are some quick tips to help you stay on track!
Adopt a one in/one out method. I try to do this with virtually everything I buy (most often with clothing!). When I buy something new, I remove an older item I don’t really use anymore and put it in a donation box in the mudroom. Keep this mentality when you shop, too. Is this something you already have? Is there something you can get rid of if you buy this? Will this item really serve you?
Pick a day of the week where you check in on your trouble area. For me, that’s usually Sundays and it’s usually the entire house, but to each their own! Pick a day where you have enough time to check in on things and get them back in order if they’re a little wonky. If all is well, then take the time you would’ve spent and do something you’ve been wanting to do! Go on a hike, catch up on your favorite show, take a nap, meet a friend for coffee. Do something for yourself!
What area of your home is a struggle? And do you now have the confidence to tackle it? Let me know in the comments!