I have a reputation in my house for being ruthless when it comes to decluttering and it’s true, I am definitely not a hoarder. What I will say however, as my mum is inevitably reading this, is that when I cleared out that stuff you stored in my garage, I definitely did not throw away anything that wasn’t actual rubbish.
(I know she doesn’t believe me – anything that has ever gone missing is attributed to me throwing it away – but there we go, it’s written down now, so it must be true.)
I find decluttering very relaxing, therapeutic almost. I am most at ease when we go on holiday and have minimal stuff around us, and although I do like to have a certain amount of bric-a-brac around for sentimental reasons, I just don’t see the point of hanging on to boxes full of crap. When you’ve moved house as often as I have you really are forced to question exactly how much of your stuff is worth packing, moving, and unpacking again.
Here are my pearls of wisdom to help you declutter:
Understand your motivations
Be wary of throwing things out because you’re in a bad mood, only to regret it later. If you’re not sure, get as far as packing it up and putting it in the garage or the car and then leave it a couple of days. For things that are plain garbage to you like old furniture, let the roll-away dumpster in South Park Township take care of the disposal instead of leaving them in your shed and covered in dust.
Get some cash back
If you’ve got some decent quality items to get rid of, you might want to think about selling them – it might just be DVDs or CDs, but if you have a lot of them then the earnings can add up. An app like Ziffit is easy to use as it has a built in barcode scanner to help you process and cash in on your unwanted items – it really couldn’t be simpler.
Have a goal
If decluttering doesn’t come naturally to you, have a goal or treat in mind at the end to spur you on – maybe you want to clear a room to use as an office or perhaps to want to sell your old clothes to buy a new holiday wardrobe?
I have two old suitcases that are designated for ‘keepsakes’ – old drawings, birthday cards, school photos etc. I am determined that this is not going to become three suitcases, and then four and so on. Setting limits keeps you focussed – review things regularly to make sure they are still relevant and important.
Recycle where you can
It can be tempting when you feel the decluttering instinct come on to just chuck everything into big black sacks and take it to the tip, but please don’t! So much can be recycled nowadays and it only takes a minute to separate it. Our local tip even has a shop where they sell decent quality rubbish, like old crockery and bits of rickety furniture.
A place for everything, everything in its place
The main reason our homes look cluttered is that we don’t have proper storage. This doesn’t just mean cupboards jammed full of things, it means taking the time to properly think about what you want to keep and how you are going to store it effectively and accessibly.
Consider external storage
But only for things that you genuinely want or need to keep – do not just think of it as an additional dumping ground! Think of the cost too – is it sensible to spend hundreds of pounds a year storing furniture you could replace for a couple of hundred quid?
Do your bit for charity
It may feel like junk to you, but a charity shop may be able to sell that purple hat you’ve always regretted buying, and put the money to good use. Sign up for gift aid on your donations to generate extra cash for the charity.
Take the six month test
Take that pile of stuff you’re in two minds about, pack it up in a box and leave it for six months. I’d like to bet that six months later you’ll have completely forgotten what’s in it, in which case, do you really need it?? If you do remember an item you really want to keep, send a friend into the box for it and get rid of the rest.
Are you a hoarder or a natural declutterer?