Over the years we tend to accumulate things. Lots of things. It happens so naturally that we don’t even realize we are starting to get cluttered up. That’s why taking a moment to declutter can be absolutely essential in trying to live intentionally.
Part of living life on purpose and intention is being aware of your surroundings and creating a space you’re comfortable in. It’s necessary to continually evaluate your space, what makes you feel comfortable, what isn’t worthy of taking up room in your environment, what agitates you or makes you feel good. These are all things to assess as you begin the process of decluttering.
Where to Start When You Want to Declutter
The first step when decluttering is being mentally prepared for the process. You need to be in the right frame of mind to let go of things, evaluate your living (or working) space, and prepare yourself to make decisions.
Whenever I go through this process I meditate on it for a few days to a week prior. I spend time where I can reflect on what type of environment I want to be surrounded by, what I’d like to change about my current environment, and how it makes me feel logically and emotionally.
If there are others that share your space it would be a good time to check in with them too. My husband and I are very similar in that we prefer a more minimalistic environment, so he is always all for me decluttering and getting rid of things we don’t use or need.
In addition to meditating about the process, I like to take mental notes as I move around my home. Of course, if writing things down is your thing, then make actual lists. I pay attention to what I like, what no longer serves a purpose, what I am keeping to please others, etc.
One of the biggest challenges I faced when I first started to declutter and maintain a more minimalistic home was getting rid of things that others gifted to me. My mother loves to buy me things for my home. Our styles are very different and I don’t like to fill my home with things just for looks. She does. Her home is filled with chotskies. She would do the same to mine if I let her.
Instead, I had a conversation with her about how much I appreciated her gifts, however, they were not my style or how I liked to fill my home. She understood, it took several more conversations over the following years, but she no longer buys me seasonal salt & pepper shakers, decorative bird cages, and the like.
Make Progress Through the Process
Don’t feel like you have to declutter your entire house all at once. Maybe you do one room at a time. Or you do one bookshelf at a time, whichever feels right for you.
Also, if you aren’t ready to part with something, don’t. You don’t have to go from a filled environment to barely anything. Assess what you want to get rid of, and if anything is questionable, keep it for now. You can go through this process again.
I typically declutter twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. There is no method to my timing, it’s just when I tend to have the need to reorganize, clean, and prepare my home for the upcoming seasonal shift.
An idea is to box up what you decide to remove from your space or anything you aren’t sure about. Box it and put it in the basement or attic. That way if you change your mind you aren’t upset.
My husband has a collection of antique irons from his grandmother and aunts in Colombia, where he’s from. They mean a lot to him and we had them scattered around the house for years. Until one day he said, “we can get rid of those.” I was shocked and wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t love having the irons around the house, but they were important to him and it’s as much his space as it is mine.
So we decided to leave two of them out, the most meaningful ones. The others we boxed up and put in the basement. They are there if he ever wants to look at them or pass them to other family members.
I started similarly, moving everything from our main rooms to the basement. Then one day I had the daunting task of cleaning out the basement and realized I didn’t like my method of decluttering one area to only clutter another.
Now, I skip the basement step and declutter items right out of the house.
What to Do With Your Clutter as You Declutter
The first option is to throw away what you no longer want. Of course, this makes sense for items that may be broken or too old to pass on to someone else.
You can also consign your items with a local consignment shop. I’ve done that with clothes. It’s an easy process and always surprising how much money you can make from doing it.
You can also use online sources such as Poshmark or Mercari to sell things you no longer want.
My favorite thing to do with what I no longer need, if it’s in good condition, is to give it away on my local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook. This group is a hyper-local group that allows you to give away items to others in your area. The idea is to keep things out of landfills and to make connections in your local community.
I’m an active member of my local Buy Nothing Group and it’s so easy and fulfilling. A great thing about the group is that you can also ask for items you are looking for. My husband has given someone a new tire that they desperately needed and he had laying around in his garage.
I’ve decluttered our entire home and passed on most items. Every other Christmas or so I go through our decorations and pass along what we no longer like putting out. I keep the old, memorable items, but the year we did an all purple tree was definitely a one-off – so those ornaments were passed on to someone else.
It’s Time to Declutter
Alright, it’s time to do it! If this is your first time decluttering, take it slow. It can be a long and overwhelming process. But if you break it down into steps, or do it one room at a time, it won’t be so bad.
Have fun with it. Listen to yourself when you’re trying to decide what to do with items, and think about the space you want to be in, to live in, and what you want to surround yourself with.
Happy decluttering! Let me know how it goes in the comments below.