The more you have, the more occupied you are. The less you have, the more free you are. -Mother Theresa
After almost six months of intentional decluttering, I’ve learned that establishing systems for the process keeps me from taking all day and getting frustrated with it.
Now it seems that, in no time, I’ve gotten rid of things I didn’t use or didn’t enjoy using. I don’t miss a thing!
But I also don’t feel like it took over my life. I’m guessing I spent an average of about an hour and a half each week actually decluttering (although I also spent time reading about how others did it and gained inspiration from them).
I’m excited to have a guest sharing her advice to help you start small especially if you have a schedule too full to allow you to get rid of all your clutter in a day or two.
Sadly, so many people get discouraged when they don’t see a lot of progress immediately or when they get burnt out by trying to do it all in a week.
Follow Lola’s advice and you’ll be off to a great start!
Lola’s Advice on Seamlessly Minimizing Clutter
The best way to make something better is to stop making it worse. This definitely holds true for clutter as well.
Decluttering Tool #1: Monitor Intake
If you want to minimize the clutter in your life, monitor the clutter you are bringing in! Only bring things into your home that “spark joy” and make you happy. This is true not only for the things you buy, but also for the things you can get for free!
When you are at the store, only buy the things that fit into this happiness category.
- If you don’t love it, put it back! If you’re shopping for clothing, only buy it if you are super excited to wear it as soon as possible.
- Save your receipts! Just because you loved it at the store does not mean you will love it in your closet. So after a couple of weeks, if you still haven’t even taken the tags off, take it back! Take charge of your belongings by taking charge of what you purchase.
So what do you do with things that you get for free? The same thing!
Unless you absolutely need it or love it, don’t accept it. It is such a nice gesture for someone to give you something for free. Treat that gesture with kindness and gratitude. If you need the item, take it. If you love the item, take it.
However, if the item being given to you is likely to turn into clutter, kindly decline. Do all of this with sincere gratitude, no matter the decision.
Whenever it comes to adding something new to your home, remember to minimize the input to maximize your space.
Decluttering Tool #2: Increase Exports
Another really helpful tool in decluttering is the one-in-two-out rule.
If you have a certain category of items in your life (shoes, paperwork, dishes, etc.) that has gotten overwhelming and needs to shrink, this rule is very helpful and simple.
Here’s how it works:
For every one item you bring into your home, you must bring two items out. You can donate them if they are in good condition or throw them away if they are not.
This will help you to gradually make the amount more manageable over time.
Once things become manageable, you can adjust the rule to a one-in-one-out rule to keep them that way. You guessed it, for every one item you bring into your home, bring one item out. This is a great way to keep everything manageable over time.
You can also apply this rule in general to your home.
For example, recently I found a dress I loved and it was on sale two for $10. It was perfect, came in tons of colors and patterns and fit well. So I purchased four of them.
When I got home, I realized that I didn’t have any dresses, or really any other clothes, that I wanted to part with.
However, I am constantly working to make my space more manageable, so I wanted to cut a little clutter out. When I realized I didn’t want to part with any dresses, I decided to find something else to part with.
In my backyard, there were tons of wires and hardware from the previous tenant that were no longer good. So, I spent the afternoon clearing it all out and throwing it away.
The physical space taken up by the things I got rid of far exceeded the space taken by the new things brought in.
Managing what you bring into your home and controlling the overall number of things in your home becomes easier with time. Before you bring something new in, make sure you love it! After you bring something new in, donate something you no longer use!
Over time, you’ll kick the clutter habit!
Lola Dart is the creator of The MINTOA™ Mentality and owner of Live and Learn with Lola. She works together with clients to make their lives better by teaching them how to transform their motivations into accomplishments.
If you liked her advice here, be sure to follow her on Facebook.