This is part four in a five-part series about decluttering called “Cut Through Clutter.” Head to the below links for other parts in the series:
As with other processes, it often helps to have some rules in place. Getting organized and decluttering is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.
It takes time and sometimes even a change in mindset to implement successfully.
The very idea of getting rid of their possessions scares many people.
And I get it, it’s scary to think about getting rid of things you were either given as a gift or you bought and paid for with your own hard-earned money.
But, what are those things in your house really doing?
Are you actually using everything you own?
Or are you just holding onto it out of obligation or because you “might use it one day?”
Whatever it is that’s holding you back from decluttering, this is your sign that it’s time to start.
And these are six rules of decluttering to help you take the steps toward living a clutter-free life.
Cut Through Clutter – 6 Rules of Decluttering
Decluttering Rule #1 – Vow to Bring Less Home
The most important rule to set before you even begin to purge items is to make a sincere effort to bring less stuff in.
There’s no point in putting forth the effort to declutter if you undo all your progress by buying more stuff.
Setting a mindset to shop with intention is the first step to clearing out the clutter for good.
So make it a point from the beginning of this process that you will vow to bring home less stuff.
Rule #2 – Start Small and Simple
One way to gain momentum in the paring down process is to start with the easy things.
Begin boxing up items that don’t hold much emotional attachment.
Doing so will lead to a sense of accomplishment and provide motivation for you to keep going when the decision-making becomes tougher.
Maybe start with the pantry and get rid of any food that is expired.
Or, go through your medicine cabinet and get rid of old, unused medications (be sure you properly dispose of them!).
Starting with something simple that doesn’t hold an emotional attachment for you is a great place to begin your decluttering journey.
The 3rd Decluttering Rule – Lose the Duplicates
Another relatively easy decluttering task involves getting rid of unnecessary duplicate items.
So take a moment to go through your home and gather up all your duplicate articles of clothing, dish sets, or books.
Then sort through them, keeping only your favorite colored piece or the one that is in the best condition.
Ask yourself if you really need those three blue sweaters or 10 pairs of jeans or 5 different pairs of beige shoes.
Are 30 coffee mugs really necessary?
Do you need three copies of Harry Potter?
Okay, you might need those three copies of Harry Potter and those 30 coffee mugs 😉
But, you get the idea.
Don’t hold onto multiple copies of things just because they were gifts or you think you need them.
You probably don’t need more than one copy of any book, you’re not a library.
And, you probably don’t need 10 pairs of flip-flops or 10 different coats or 10 pairs of jeans.
Just try to be mindful of things you buy that you actually already have and you will be surprised at how much clutter you can cut out.
Decluttering Rule #4 – Document Your Nostalgia
Now that I’m a mom…I understand this on a whole new level.
Nostalgia is a powerful emotion that can lead us to hold onto clutter.
Kids’ artwork and trophies, birthday cards from friends and family, t-shirts from concerts, prom dresses, those tiny baby clothes…
The list could go on and on when it comes to items we are nostalgic over.
And it can be really hard to let those things go.
An effective compromise for things like this, though, is often to digitize your prized possessions.
You can scan the images of things like certificates or kids’ artwork into your computer and organize them into folders.
For three-dimensional pieces like trophies or prom dresses, take a photo of the item to add to your digital keepsakes.
Or maybe get a quilt made out of those old t-shirts.
Don’t just hold onto things in a box in your closet just for the sake of keeping them because of the nostalgia they hold.
Rule #5 – Nix the Guilt
An empowering decluttering strategy is to get rid of things you’ve been holding onto out of guilt.
Gifts from family or friends are a prime example of this.
Unwanted gifts are something you should part with if you don’t like or use them.
These things are yours.
The decision of whether to keep them is also yours.
Don’t forget that part of the process and don’t feel guilty if you are getting rid of something.
The Final Rule of Decluttering – Put Things in Their Place
Another way to bring organization to your home is to make sure all of your possessions have a designated place and to always return them there.
Knowing where stuff belongs makes it easier to keep everything tidy and lowers the chance of clutter becoming an even bigger problem.
Organize your closet so all your clothes have a place. Or organize your shoes. Even your children’s toys should be organized as much as they can be.
Having a place for everything is important and helps cut down on clutter.
One of the best things you can start working on right now to reduce your clutter is managing your mail.
This is something I’m totally guilty of and need to get better at. Putting the mail where it belongs after I open it instead of just putting it in a random place.
Bills need to go somewhere specific, paystubs, even letters, and cards should go somewhere because if it doesn’t it ends up cluttering the house in random places.
If you take the time to make some type of filing system with a file folder organizer it will make things SO much easier.
These rules of decluttering aren’t the definitive last word on cutting through clutter, and they won’t remove all of the difficulties from the process (because let’s face it, it’s hard to get rid of things).
But, hopefully, these rules will serve as guidelines to help you throughout your decluttering journey.
In our last and final post on this series, we will tie together everything we’ve talked about these past few weeks and explore what you stand to gain from decluttering!