When you just can’t seem to find it in you to kick off that big declutter you keep promising yourself, just stop looking at it as a BIG declutter. Start by opening just one cupboard, or one drawer, or pull out only one basket of your belongings and question if they do actually belong with you. Note that this question is directed at you very specifically. Do you, yourself find the item to be useful? Or, is the item beautiful enough to be put out on display in your home right now for all to appreciate?
Be True to Yourself
Don’t hang onto things just because you/others have a preconceived idea that every home should have one (I just discarded our potato masher…we don’t do mash!), or that some pushy sales assistant on commission convinced you that it was a great purchase; do YOU, or your family, get use out of it? If not, then it’s got to go.
Think of that kitchen gadget you keep just in case. The one that’s been owning the back of your cupboard like a school bully rules the back seat of a school bus for the last, oh I don’t know, ten years? Yes, yes that’s the one. I’d like to let you into a little secret… You’re not going to use it. What’s more, you’re not even going to miss it when it’s gone, so for goodness sake kick that space sucking menace outta your life.
Likewise, don’t feel obligated to hold on to gifts of home decor, clothing, or anything that doesn’t bring you joy. The gift is in the giving, not the retaining. Once the gift has left the givers possession and entered yours then the gift has fulfilled it’s purpose. If you feel more comfortable in giving the piece a short period of grace then do so, then graciously pass it on to someone who might enjoy it via a charity shop or an online marketplace. Too many people hold onto things out of a sense of duty, and where’s the gift in that?
The Answer to Decluttering
Even a once a week kind of appliance like a breadmaker would have made 520 loaves of bread by now. It’s hung on to on the off chance that you might one day get around to making that banana bread recipe from the clunky cookbook that’s been harboured for the past 9 and a bit years, which has barely been glanced at either (because you can find recipes for literally everything online). The answer when decluttering is simply to be true to yourself about what stuff you actually need, and actively use.
Ditch Multiples and Long Term Lodgers
Pare down. Stop saving multiple ‘just in case’ items, one in use and one spare is enough for anyone. Cut the wheat from the chaff. Use up that old yellowing pack of Christmas napkins as paper towels (then switch over to more eco friendly reusable cloth napkins, and rags for spills going forward. Not only will the change reduce strain on the planet but it will reduce strain on your shopping budget too). Let’s get real about occasional serving dishes while we’re at it. How many fancy-pants bowls are really needed on hand to cradle nibbles for few and far between (or non-existent) get-togethers?
Once the unused makes room for the used you find life flows more freely. All of your useful things are found close at hand, or easily retrieved without rifling through overfilled cupboards, jammed drawers and toppling piles.
But what to do if clutter is sentimental? Whilst that is a stickier situation, there is a solution. Read my guide Sentimental Decluttering, Let It Go.
Still struggling to get motivated? Read about my return to decluttering in Goodbye Overwhelm.