Do you want to learn how to declutter your life? I’ve done it all around a year ago and I still feel VERY good about it. Stick around to get 6 practical tips to start decluttering TODAY!
My entire life, I’ve been the one who was taking all the stuff. My life was full of stuff.
I had constantly stuff coming in, it kept building and building.
Just so we’re clear, not JUST my house was cluttered. I had no time in my schedule and my entire life was cluttered. I needed to declutter my life.
When I started to change my habits, simplify my life and being more mindful were on the top of my list!
I knew what I wanted, but how the heck was I going to get it?
There were piles of stuff, overflowing time commitments, and tons of digital clutter (email, photos, videos, files, you name it).
When I started, I tried to keep things as simple as possible. Where things got more and more complicated, I stuck to the basics.
These basics I’m going to share with you today so that you can start to declutter your life! I’m not perfect in any way, but aspiring the minimalist lifestyle over the years did give me some knowledge around it.
Benefits Of Starting To Declutter Your Life
There will be many benefits when you decide you want to start to declutter your life. These benefits are including (but certainly not limited to):
- Less stuff to clean – no one actually likes cleaning. Things that you need to clean and don’t like (or use) can make it a bigger task.
- Less stress – when you are surrounded by clutter, things can get a little stressful. At least, that’s my personal experience.
- More time for things you love – when you need to put away fewer things every day, that will free up some time you can spend on things you love. Is it time for a new hobby? Perhaps you can listen to that podcast you love? The options are endless.
- More fun – do I need to say more? I mean, experiences are better than gifts anyways right?!
- Reach financial freedom faster – when you are not allowing as many things in your home, you will shop less and spend less money. That means less debt, less spending, and more savings. That’s great!
How To Declutter Your Life – 6 Practical Tips
Here are 6 tips to start decluttering!
1 – You Have More Stuff Than You Think!
When I was going through my stuff, I couldn’t believe what I found. I knew that I had accumulated things over the course of time, but really this much stuff? No, I would have never believed it.
You are opening the new drawer that you haven’t looked into in months, you’re thinking: aahhh, there is my ____ – fill in the blank. Well yes, but you didn’t see it for a few months and life still goes on, do you really need it?
I was surprised again and again when I looked into all my stuff – especially when I looked into the stuff that I had stored at my parents’ house. Think of it as a storage box. I’m there only once every few months, but I’m having all the stuff there.
2 – You Need Less Than You Think!
I am surprised that I got rid of so much stuff, and still I have the things that I use everyday. I’m not feeling like I’m missing anything – which is great of course!
It also gave me the insight that we don’t need as much as we think.
When I was studying in the US for 4 months and when I was traveling South America for 4 months, both times I just went with a backpack. For the US, I even cramped a sleeping bag in my backpack (which I gave to a homeless person before I flew back to make room for souvenirs).
We don’t need all our stuff! I’m just as happy wearing the same things week after week.
[Related Read: 25+ Incredible Easy Money Saving Tips]
3 – It’s Hard To Get Rid Of Something That Has Value
If something has value to you, either monetary or emotional, it’s hard to get rid of these kinds of things. I’m also not getting rid of my study books or designer stuff because it had cost me so much money in the past.
If you’re having a hard time getting rid of things that have monetary value, try to sell instead of donating them! If you’re not able to sell them, you can always decide to donate them later.
Things that have emotional value, it’s even harder to get rid of them. Some things, of course, you don’t want to get rid of, but some things really have no added value to your life.
For me, it’s really important to help others. I donate something that I won’t use but I know will benefit others, so I’m feeling the happiness and fulfillment that I’m contributing. If I get rid of these personal things, I will throw them into the trash, which doesn’t give me the same feeling of satisfaction.
[Related Read: 6 Lessons from Rich Dad Poor Dad Everyone Should Know]
4- Just Do It!
So, what to do now with these things that have value? Just do it.
I know it will feel better when I have less stuff, so even those things I’m getting out of my life. They don’t add anything to my life so I don’t need them.
It’s the same for you, if something doesn’t add value to your life, please get rid of it!
It can take a while before you get to that point, but once you’re there, make use of it. Get rid of all the stuff you don’t want in your life anymore.
[Related Read: 8 Terrible Habits for Your Wallet and Your Health]
5 – It Takes Time, Don’t Beat Yourself Up If It Doesn’t Work The First Time
For a lot of things you own, it’s not as easy as looking at your things and thinking: okay, they don’t spark joy, I’ll throw them out! As with many things in life, it’s rarely black and white.
Some things I still didn’t feel ready to throw away, even after years of not using.
To be fully honest with you, there are some things that are still in my possession that I’m not using as much as I want. Not all of them, because I did apply the F-IT method and got rid of a lot of things I liked but never am going to use.
It takes time, it’s a process, don’t be too hard on yourself if you struggling to get rid of some items. It’s completely normal! After a few more rounds, you might see that this is exactly what you need to do with the item!
6 – Repeat, You Need More Rounds!
The first time I tried to do something like this, I only got rid of the really obvious things. Things that I haven’t touched for years which didn’t have any sentimental value.
The second time I tried to get rid of things, I tried to sell as many clothes as possible that I didn’t wear anymore. I tried to avoid giving anything away because I was still studying and I wanted to make extra money.
The third time I noticed that I didn’t even miss all the things I sold, so I tried to sell more.
When I came back from my travel in South America I realized how much stuff I truly had, that’s what four months of backpacking does to you. I was determined to get rid of stuff. So I purged a lot.
Then a couple of months later, everyone was looking at that Marie Kondo documentary, and my timeline was flooded with people decluttering and getting rid of things. It’s really contagious, so I also started to do it again. This time, for real!
When I did my get rid of 3 items every day for 2 weeks, I was already on the path to get out all of the stuff I didn’t need. Then when I went to my parents’ house, big things happened. I got rid of boxes full of stuff, and I’m very happy about it!
Needless to say, this experience really opened my eyes. My next round of decluttering will be even more radical! It’s so nice to experiment with these kind of things, since you’re learning so much about yourself in the process!
Having A Hard Time To Start?
When you’re decluttering, starting can be the hardest part. It all seems so overwhelming and you really have no idea to start.
Here are a couple of quick tips to start decluttering:
- Set your alarm and take 10 minutes to sort through a shelf, table, or drawer.
- Ask yourself:
- Do I use it regularly?
- Do I need this?
- Does it add any value to my life? Or, as Marie Kondo would say, does it give me joy?
- If you answer no to any of these questions, donate or give it to someone else.
- After 10 minutes, you can stop for today. Tomorrow is another day where you can do 10 minutes. Don’t overdo it to keep motivation!
What If I Don’t Know What To Do With An Item?
If you’re having a hard time with an item, no worries. You can make a box where you put all the things you are unsure about. Remind yourself of this box by putting a reminder in your calendar in 3 months. If you haven’t used or missed it since, you can most probably get rid of it.
How To Declutter Your Life – My Personal Journey
When I wrote my article about minimalist living, I already removed about 3 bags of stuff from my current apartment (which is about 160 square feet, so I’m thinking this is quite a lot). Pictures below for evidence;
Then I wanted to wait until I went to my parents’ house, since I still have my room there. I spend a lot of time cleaning up my room with my mother and my sister. I’m proud to say all my stuff there is gone now!
The things I liked, I moved to my apartment, the things I didn’t enjoy or use I gave it away.
Even though I didn’t buy much stuff anymore since I was going to university, still I had a lot of unnecessary things.
Here’s A List Of Things That I Donated So Far:
- 4 shot glasses
- 3 USBs
- Pack of cigarettes – read my Bad Habits post for more info. In short: I was a party smoker but I also don’t want to have anything in my house anymore
- 2 DVDs
- To-do checklist notebook
- 2 old MP4 players that are so old that they only have 2GB space
- 3 mugs
- One small bag
- 3 large bags
- 5 shorts
- 6 long pants
- 5 tops
- 4 t-shirts
- 2 long sleeve t-shirts
- 2 skirts
- 1 dress
- 3 pairs of leotards
- Few bras
- 2 leather jackets
- Winter jacket saying Jack Daniels – this one hurt since I love the brand, but I really looked like a Michelin Man, so it’s for the best
- Pair of wedge heels
- 2 sweaters
- 2 pairs of sandals
- Graphical calculator
- Bike light with an empty battery
- A very very old television, with 3 remotes (??)
- Storage folders (if you have less to storage, you don’t need the folders)
- Gift bag
- Laptop bag
- Few old CDs
- Cheap sports watch that I never figured out
- An ironing board that I’ll never use, as I haven’t ironed ever
- I also finally threw out my dying plant
Where Does It Go?
I have gifted stuff to my mom, my sister, and friends. The rest of the stuff we donated to a good cause, that is totally awesome. In my town, there is a store run by homeless people where you can bring your donations, and everything they sell will also go to their foundation which supports homeless people. The stuff that is worth nothing and is broken, we give to another cause.
So, to recap the things I donated:
- Tableware (12)
- Electronics (7)
- Clothes (39)
- Accessories + Shoes (9)
- CD/DVDs (5)
- Others (6)
This means I got rid of a total of 78 items!! I would never have guessed that it would be so many things when I first started, this is amazing. As I mentioned, it’s definitely a work in process, so I’ll keep at it and let’s see where it gets me in the end.
Are you planning to declutter your life?
This article originally appeared on Radical FIRE and has been republished with permission.