“Less is more.”
In the last few months I’ve been on a major decluttering kick. It took a while to work up the motivation – I’ve been putting this off for years – but once I got started, the process became positively therapeutic and very liberating.
The original view was towards eventually downsizing our home, but the idea of living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuff sounded more and more attractive to me.
Nothing makes a room – or an entire house – look better than clearing up your space.
Here are some things I’ve learned from my decluttering experience.
1. Free up space
Our homes are filled with very useful items – they are just no longer any use to us. You can even make some extra cash if you’re willing to have a garage or yard sale, sell items on eBay or Kijiji, or try a consignment store for new looking clothing, kids’ and baby items, and good furniture.
What doesn’t sell – if it’s still in good shape – can be donated to various charity organizations. Old, dirty, broken and very used-looking items should just be tossed. Let go of the idea that you may eventually use these items again.
Get rid of VHS tapes with old recorded TV shows and that box of your old school textbooks, gifts you will never use, clothing from when you were a different size, knick-knacks that have no sentimental value, kitchen items and small appliances that haven’t been used in a long while, out-dated electronics, and furniture you don’t need but keep – just in case.
I still had unpacked boxes from when we moved to this house over eighteen years ago. What was in them? I wasn’t sure. I obviously no longer needed them.
2. Let go of the past
There’s nothing wrong with feeling sentimental, but do you really need to hang on to every craft project your children made throughout the years? Save a couple, or three, (why not display them artfully?) and toss the rest.
Believe me, your children will not be upset – or even know.
When we organized our photos, we couldn’t believe how many of them were of people we either didn’t know, or couldn’t remember who they were or what the occasion was – “Do you know who this person is? Is it one of your old friends, or a relative? – I have no idea!”
Related: Who Are You Calling An Antique?
Other relatives may appreciate certain old photos and heirlooms. Let them store them.
Decluttering is the first step to getting organized. Instead of buying more nifty new storage containers, redefine your space and establish new habits.
Find out what you already have. Do you know what’s hiding in the dark recesses of your basement closets? Perhaps there’s something there that you can actually use.
Related: How Many Clothes Do You Need Anyway?
I found three 20 pound sterling notes that I had brought back from a trip to England a few years ago in the back of my closet. Why was I holding on to them? Was I planning another trip? I don’t know.
You can also avoid buying duplicates and triplicates by re-discovering what you already own. I bought my third bottle of Worcestershire sauce in as many weeks because they kept disappearing in my cluttered pantry and, you know, my short-term memory isn’t what it once was.
4. Make space for hobbies
When you declutter, you can create new space to pursue those hobbies you’ve been putting off for so long and re-ignite old interest in projects you’ve long forgotten.
Turn a spare bedroom into a craft or sewing studio, make some space in the garage for a woodworking shop, organize your gardening tools so you’re not pruning the hedge with an old pair of scissors.
You might even turn that hobby into a money-making part time activity.
You can set up a home office where you can budget and pay bills, and organize and file your important paperwork so it’s easily accessible.
5. Save money on storage
Self-storage units are one of the fastest growing areas of commercial real estate. For the most part they are a really bad idea. It’s a waste of money storing items that you haven’t used in years and are likely never going to use again.
Both of our parents were borderline hoarders and we also tend to accumulate lots of stuff.
It was disheartening to clean out their homes (one set passed away, one set moved to a retirement complex) and deal with all the items they had bought or were gifted over the years that they had loved and valued.
Only a few items of sentimental value were kept. I’m sad to say the remainder was tossed into several dumpsters to be hauled away. Even the charity organizations didn’t want them as they were too dated and worn.
Preparing for retirement, downsizing, or living in a newly empty nest is the perfect time to take stock of your belongings and part ways with everything that no longer serves you.
Only keep things you use, enjoy and cherish. It’s a great way to enter a new phase in your life.
Besides, the thought of paying to haul all that stuff to a new home makes me think twice about keeping it.