How to clear your home of clutter

Lifestyle | October 2019

Whether you’re preparing your home for sale or simply switching to a life that’s more about enjoying experiences than how much stuff you own, cutting down on clutter can be a real challenge.

If you’ve grown fond of your possessions, it can feel a bit overwhelming or even upsetting to let them go. You know you want to do it and you know it will be liberating, but it’s not feeling at all easy.

Typically, the biggest hurdle is deciding where to start. So here are some tips to help you create space, increase spare time and simplify your life. Simply pick one at random or choose the one you like the most and get underway today. The rest can follow over the coming weeks. Most of all, remember to make sure it’s always fun and keep your eye on the prize – space and simplicity!

Stuff a rubbish bag

This one is definitely fun. Simply grab a rubbish bag and see how quickly you can fill it. If none of it was really trash, you can take the bag to a charity shop, like the Red Cross or Salvation Army. Bags of clothes can also be put into community clothing bins, which are often located at schools.

Play three piles of 10

Find 10 things to donate, 10 to send where they’re meant to be, and 10 to throw away or recycle. You can get the whole family involved by making it a race to see who can complete their three piles the fastest. The 10x10x10 strategy is a fun way to involve everyone in decluttering. If you have a show-and-tell afterwards, you’ll uncover all sorts of decision-making criteria for future de-cluttering sessions.

Lose what you don’t use

This tip helps you identify the things you really don’t need. For example, you could decide to get rid of anything you haven’t worn in the last six months. You can do this by turning all your hangers the wrong way around. When you wear something, return it with the hanger hook the right way around. After six months it’s easy to see which items you haven’t worn. If you’re worried about seasonal items, start by opening your wardrobe and anywhere else you store clothes, and then remove anything you haven’t worn in the last year.

Take small steps

Divide your home into easily manageable areas, like a drawer, cupboard or set of shelves. Write them down into a list. Declutter one, cross it off and stop. Pick one each day. This approach is all about not doing too much at once, which makes the whole thing easy and fun with plenty of progress to enjoy along the way.

Give one thing away every day

Set yourself a challenge to lighten your load by just one item every day. You could pass it on to a friend, family or work colleague. Another option is to advertise it on TradeMe for a dollar or on a local site like freecycle.org or neighbourly.co.nz. When someone claims it, they’ll be happy to come and pick it up at a time that suits you.

Find a fresh point of view

Sometimes you’re so close to the clutter you just can’t see it. Try inviting a good friend around and ask them to put a sticker on anything they think is clutter. Or you could print some large photos of inside your home and ask others to put a red cross on items of clutter.

Create mini-challenges

It can be quite fun to set yourself a catchy challenge and learn from how it plays out. Try something like choosing only 40 items to wear for the next four months (or maybe four weeks) or surviving with only six dinner plates for next six months. Minimalism could become your new hobby!

Tackle each room, one item at a time

Get four boxes and label them ‘keep’, ‘relocate’, ‘gift’ and ‘rubbish’. Put the boxes in one room and gradually allocate every item in that room to one of the boxes. Take as long as you like, but don’t move on to the next room until everything in this one is in a box. This method helps you to carefully consider everything in your home. It’s also a great way to break hoarding habits.

Get creative with the difficult stuff

When you’re down to the things that are hard to let go, try a bit of positive forward thinking. For example, you could imagine how much someone else might enjoy an item, what you could do with the money if it was sold or even how good it would feel not having to dust it every week.

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