"We don't need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as not possessing it." -Donald Horban
Clutter can stress us out, steal our time, and enslave us. Here are a few tips on how to clean out the old, and keep it out:
1. Only de-clutter one room at a time.
Avoid becoming distracted by clutter throughout your place. Finish one room then move on to the next.
2. Start shallow, then dive in.
Depending on the depth of clutter start by organizing loose papers, throwing things away, and clearing off flat surfaces. Then dive into your closet, dresser, and bookshelves for a deeper, more thorough de-cluttering session.
3. Ask the six months question.
Everything you pick up, try on, and look at, ask yourself, "Have I used this in the last six months?" It is imperative that you are completely honest, and if the answer is "no," then get rid of it.
4. Make decision boxes.
Label three boxes: "Probably Not," "Definitely Not," and "Garbage." Discard items you've answered "no" to into one of these boxes. Having these stages of letting possessions go will make it easier to be decisive.
Keep It Up!
1. Remember the haircut rule.
Every time you get a haircut, which is usually every two to three months, go through your stuff again and get rid of whatever you haven't used since the last time you de-cluttered.
2. Keep a to-go bag.
Always have a bag around that you are constantly filling with old magazines, discarded clothes, trinkets, and books. When the bag is full, give it away to a charity or friend, or throw it away.
3. Follow the one-for-one rule.
Every time you buy something new, get rid of something old. For example, before you buy a new sweater, ask yourself, "Which item is this one going to replace?"
4. Make a list.
Keep a list in your planner or phone titled, "Don't Need It, Don't Want It." When you consider an impulse buy or see something you want, write it down in your list instead of purchasing it. Not only will prioritizing give you a moment to think more critically about the item's potential contribution to your clutter, but you will also be able to evaluate which items you did and didn't buy -- and their necessity.
5. Turn something old into something new.
Things that trigger memories can be the hardest to let go of, like a child's art project, souvenirs, cute Christmas cards, or old t-shirts from places you loved. Instead of throwing these keepsakes away, start by making the object smaller. Make it into something newer and cooler, or share it with friends.
Clutter Reducing Activities
1. Shrink an object by taking a picture of it.
Instead of storing your child's paper mache mask, cardboard chair, or giant glitter painting, take a picture of him or her holding the item and store the photo in an album. This will ultimately enhance the memory because you'll have captured your child at the age he or she made it, and a photo will hold up a lot better than glitter and glue. The same can go for souvenirs.
2. Get creative: Make it into something newer.
Now that you have all of this free space, you have room to work on cool art projects. Try cutting up all those old t-shirts you couldn't bring yourself to throw away and make them into a t-shirt quilt.
3. Have a frock-swap.
Invite three to ten friends over and tell them to bring any slightly worn clothes, books, or trinkets they want to get rid of. Then enjoy some relaxing time together, serve some healthy snacks, and swap frocks. It's a great way to purge your wardrobe while picking up a few fun new items for free. Just be sure to keep the one-for-one rule in mind!