When, on the other hand, I walk out into a living room cluttered with toys and magazines all over the place, it is chaos and my mind is frenetic. And trust me with my 2 year old that’s thinks all of her toys need to be laid out in order for her to play with. Let me first state the obvious: any life that includes children is going to be complicated, at least to some degree. You’ll never get an absolute minimalist lifestyle with kids, and I’ve learned to accept that.
I’ve been a simplifier and a declutterer for years now and I’ve gotten pretty good at it, but I’ve found that you have to keep coming back to revisit your clutter every once in awhile.
Here are my decluttering tips:
- Set aside a couple hours to do it or only take 10min a day. This may seem to be a little over whelming, I say do whatever works for you. Sometimes, for me, it’s good to set aside part of a morning, or an entire Saturday to declutter a closet or room. I do it all at once, and when I’m done, it feels awesome. But for other only 10 min. a day to clean out a darwer works for them.
- Take everything out of a shelf or drawer at once. You should focus on one drawer or shelf at a time, and empty it completely. Then clean that shelf or drawer. Then, take the pile and sort it,and put back just what you want to keep. Then tackle the next shelf or drawer.
- Be merciless. The truth is, you won’t ever use most of the junk you’ve accumulated. If you haven’t used it in the last year, get rid of it. It’s as simple as that. If you’ve only used it once or twice in the last year, but know you won’t use it in the next year, get rid of it. When going through my endless piles of clothes, I usually ask myself, “Will I wear this again?” If no, then I make a piles for friends or I will donate it. I know someone out there will make use of it.
- Papers? Unless it’s important. Magazines, catalogues, junk mail, bills more than a year old, letters and cards from ex’s , old work stuff … toss it! The only exception is with tax-related stuff, which should be kept, and other important documents like warranties, birth and death and marriage certificates, insurance, wills, and other important documents. But you’ll know those when you see them. Otherwise, toss!!!!
- If you are on the fence with some of your things, create a “maybe” box. If you can’t bear to toss something because you might need it later, put it in the box, then label it, and put it in storage, out of sight. And this is just my experience; most likely, you’ll never open that box again! If that’s the case, pull it out after six months or a year, and toss it or give it away.
- Figure out how to stop clutter from accumulating. There’s a reason you have papers all over the place, and big piles of toys and books and clothes. It’s because you don’t have a regular system to keep things in their place, and get rid of stuff you don’t need. I always ask myself, “when will I ever need this again?” or “what I am going to do this decorative bowl?”
- Kids clutter. Less is more. Teach the kids that they don’t need to have huge piles of stuff to be happy. They can’t possibly play with everything anyway — there aren’t enough hours in the day. With less stuff, they can find things more easily, they can see what there is to play with, and they can own better quality stuff. Instead of getting them a huge pile of cheap junk, go for quality toys or possessions that will last long. Wood is better than plastic, for example. The classic toys are often the best. It’s best to spend your money on a couple of great things than a whole bunch of cheap things that will break and be relegated to the junk pile in no time.
- Celebrate when you’re done! This is actually a general rule in life: always celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small, even if you just decluttered just one drawer. Treat yourself to something delicious. Open that drawer, and admire its simplicity. Breathe deeply and know that you have done a good thing. Take in your peacefulness. I know it sounds funny but do it, trust me you will have that good feeling.