Demystifying Decluttering: 4 Tips to Make It Easier to Lighten Up

Demystifying Decluttering: 4 Tips to Make It Easier to Lighten Up

Jennifer Hunter
Mar 13, 2015
(Image credit: Rebecca Proctor)

I'm not here to give you the hard sell on why you should declutter — we do plenty of that 'round here — but if you're ready to start spring a little lighter, here's what to do.

Remove Emotion

Before you even begin, recognize that, while we often have emotional ties to physical things, memories and emotions will still remain once that thing is gone. If emotion is a big roadblock for you, try to find a way to keep a record of the things without keeping the things themselves. A photo album can be great for this.

Work in Sections

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't make the mistake of taking on too much only to burn out halfway through a massive declutter. Tackle small sections at a time so you can finish a project, see the positive results and keep your motivation up for the next section. Start as small as you need to: a desk, a drawer or even just a simple surface can be a great, inspiring start. Once you see the difference, you'll want to keep going.

Follow a Format

When you're facing a big job, it's important to give yourself some guidelines so you don't get overwhelmed. Say you're trying to clean out a drawer. Set aside enough time so you don't feel rushed, empty the drawer completely and then address each item individually. Create three piles: keep, trash and donate/sell. Once everything in the drawer has been assigned a pile, deal with the piles right away. Put the keep pile back in the drawer, throw away the trash and move the donate pile to another location (like your car) so you don't have a chance to second guess your gut decisions.

Make an Effort to Maintain

Part of the reason decluttering feels so overwhelming is because we don't do it often enough or have a system to maintain the progress. Once you've gotten your drawer to where you want it, make sure that you add some extra measures to keep it from reverting to a cluttered state. This can mean some simple dividers or perhaps a strict one-in-one-out policy. Checking in often is key, and the more you maintain, the easier the job will be.

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