Spring has long come, bringing along the aromas of wild flowers, freshly cut grass and morning sun. With sunlight streaming through the windows and the change of season our houses suddenly start to feel stuffier and more cluttered than ever.
Our closets are filled with warm clothes, winter shoes and skiing gear. Our drawers are overflowing with stacks of notes, papers, paid bills and old concert tickets that we have not felt like throwing away. Our kitchen shelves are stuffed with spices, soup jars, plastic food containers (many of them without matching lids) and a whole bunch of cook books. And for the sake of our order-loving parents all the clutter that has accumulated in our basement and garage is better left unmentioned.
So how do we claim back our living space that has been taken over by the clutter? How can we bring freshness and lightness into our home? How do we make it look like one of those sun filled and airy homes that we often see on magazine covers?
I have been asking these question myself lately and I am happy to tell you that I have a plan! I did extensive research on all the possible clutter-free tips and have selected the ones I, myself, am going to use to declutter my own rather spacious 3 bedroom apartment.
I urge you to start this clutter-free challenge with me and share your own tips, observations and your progress in the comment section below this post.
Tip #1: Start with one room at a time.
It took years for all the clutter in your house to pile up, and it will take more than a day to liberate your house from it. Do not get overwhelmed or discouraged by the amount of work that needs to be done. Instead concentrate on one room at a time. Start with your bathroom or kitchen and slowly work your way to the rest of the house. View it as meditation, as a process of letting go of the unneeded baggage of past years.
Tip #2: Think of space functionality.
Every space in our house has a specific purpose: the kitchen is a food preparation area, the bathroom is a relaxing place where we should take our long showers, the living room is a place where all the family gets together, the bedroom is our sacred space where we rest, have long pillow talks with our partner, read books and meditate. It is safe to say that none of these spaces was designed as a storage space for the stuff we do not need at the moment. Use your shed, walk-in closet, garage and attic for anything that you will not need for a long time (like winter sports equipment, tents, home appliances and so on.)
Tip #3: Adopt minimalism thinking.
Leo Babauta, a minimalist guru, once asked his readers to name their most valuable belongings that would fit in their car trunk. I urge you to think about it too and I bet you would not take the 3 sets of china you inherited from your grandmother or a digital photo frame that has been collecting dust on your shelf. Now the real question is, if you would not take those things with you, what are they still doing in your house?
Tip #4: Eliminate mercilessly.
How about weeding out the plastic bag that is filled with other bags in your kitchen? Or donating clothes that you have not worn for the past 3 years, because they are either too small or too outdated? Everything unnecessary, unneeded or unused for a long time has to go without worry or regret, liberating the space for new, beautiful and more useful things.
Tip #5. Do not turn your home into museum.
Glass figure collections, items that you picked up during your world trips, interesting or particular pieces that you have purchased in yard sales – in limited quantities add character to your house and even serve as a focal point of a room. But if you are not careful these collections and souvenirs will quickly take over your house, making it look like a cluttered and mismatched museum.
Tip #6: Conquer mail invasion.
Do you know all those flyers, and promotional magazines and catalogues that we receive daily and do not always have time to read? When dealing with mail adopt the same process that you use to sort out your emails. Touch any piece of paper only once. If it is not a bill, personal correspondence or subscription magazine – put it in the trash. Sort the rest of the papers out.
Tip #7: Forget about ‘Someday’.
We can not bring ourselves to part with stuff, because we think that a day will come when we might need the thing we are about to throw away. Well, let’s be honest with ourselves – “Someday” might never come, but the clutter is guaranteed to be there every time you open the closet or look under the bed.
Tip #8: Stay focused on the task.
When you try to get your house back in order it is easy to lose focus and switch from one task on another. By doing this you will most likely not bring anything to a completion and get disheartened. Instead simplify your approach to getting organized and stay concentrated on one task at a time.
Tip #9: Be careful not to lose yourself in nostalgia.
When you are sorting out old photos or going through the clothes you wore decades ago, it is very easy to get carried away by memories and lose track of time. Approach each task with a business like attitude. You can always go back and dig through old photo albums when everything is done.
Tip #10: Review your sentimental ‘attachments’.
Very often we feel bound to keep certain things, because they belonged to old relatives or because they are associated with important events of our past. For example, you might keep a shirt that you wore on the first date with your soon-to-be spouse. To you this shirt tells a story, but for everyone else it is just an outdated, faded piece of clothing that has seen better times. Try to see objects that you are emotionally attached to for what they are. If they serve no purpose, do not be afraid to part with them. Carry your dearest memories in your heart. It is the best place for them.