House full of crap? Got nowhere to put new books, clothes or furniture? It’s time for a clearout!
If you’re playing Jenga every time you open a cupboard, you need to topple that tower and rid yourself of some of the building blocks. Don’t let procrastination prevent you from freeing yourself from the chaos of a messy and claustrophobic home.
Searching the web for the best ways to go about divesting myself of the useless junk that’s scattered all over my house turned out to be to gimmicky to be practical. So I went about this task on my own and thought I’d share what I’d learned.
1. Start small.
Find a particular cupboard or corner you want to focus on. Try not to overwhelm yourself with too big a project. Doing a little every day is better than setting yourself up to fail by trying to sift through ten years’ worth of clutter in one afternoon.
2. Create places for disposal destinations.
For example, a space for the bin pile, recycling, eBay and charity. You might also want to include a ‘maybe’ pile for all the things you’re on the fence about. You could leave them in that pile for a few days to see how you feel about those things over time, as some decisions are harder than others.
When examining each item, ask yourself the following:
3. Is it mine?
NEVER dispose of anything that isn’t yours. You may want to get rid of your children’s old toys or your husband’s tatty shoes, but they’re not yours. Ask yourself how you would like it if someone sneakily gave away your favourite treasures. (It’s happened to me more than once. It does not feel good.) Why not declutter together and negotiate on what can stay and go.
5. Is it useful? Has it ever been used?
If you’ve never used it, it’s not useful. That brand new toaster you bought two years ago when you thought your current one had died, has to go. The same goes for the old printer that broke last year and never got fixed.
5. Will I need it in the near future?
Just because you might need something, doesn’t mean it’s worth keeping. If it’s cheap, you can afford to buy another when you eventually need it and you’re free to bin this one. The steamer gathering dust atop the kitchen cabinets that you bought to make healthier meals hasn’t been doing its job and it’s unlikely you’ll start steaming up a storm now. Say goodbye.
6. If the item is old, would you be embarrassed if a stranger saw it?
This one works on the most surprising of things. Underwear, cutlery, blankets, etc. If it’s got holes, scratches or bits missing, replace it.
7. Does it have sentimental value?
Would you cry if it burned up in a fire? If so, it’s worth saving. Anything associated with good memories, like photo albums, are safe. Old school books from when you were twelve, are not.
8. Are you keeping too many items you think should go?
Try not to mistake the pain of parting with possessions with sentimental value. If you’re getting too upset, then you need to stop and come back to it another day. Decluttering is a stressful process which requires a clear head and a positive attitude. Forcing yourself to continue would be unproductive and could put you off from finishing the task at a later date.
Important documents are of course exempt from decluttering. Don’t throw away forms of identification (e.g. passports, birth certificates and drving licences), insurance policies (e.g. life, car and home) and financial and tax information (e.g. bank statements). Keep these in a safe place.