No matter what time of year it is, whether it be spring, summer, fall, or winter, it’s always a good time to pare down your “stuff,” and freshen up your dwelling place.
That said, downsizing can be tough. Even just the idea of clearing the clutter can seem daunting and awfully overwhelming. Follow this practical guide to getting rid of stuff and downsizing to begin living clutter free in five easy steps.
This is the hardest part, really. Determining what needs to stay and what needs to go. Often, we are emotionally attached to things that no longer have much value in our lives, which means cutting some difficult ties. The answer is to think and sort practically.
Create three different piles or zones: keep, donate, toss.
- Keep means the item is used often, at least once a month, and/or holds some sentimental value.
- Donate means the item is still in great condition, but would serve a better purpose in someone else’s hands.
- Toss clearly means the item is no longer in functioning condition and simply needs to go. No matter how much you loved those decade old t-shirts with holes throughout or all the expired exotic spices in the pantry, you don’t need them and neither does anyone else!
Now, take a break. Really, keep your piles neat and tidy and take a break.
- Repeat – Resort
After a week or so, come back to your project. You’ll now have a fresh pair of eyes and a new sense of what needs to stay with you and what does not. This is an essential part of really paring down. You would be surprised at how much more you can eliminate the second time around. The key, however, is not to go back to the “Donate” or “Toss” piles and second-guess yourself.
- Tip: Recruit a friend as a second pair of eyes to help you detach from those things (often times clothes and sentimental items) that really are not worth your time and space.
- Go Digital
You know all those files and folder you have lurking in the closet? Years and years of receipts, manuals, recipes, and what not that none of us EVER view – all of those things tightly packed away – it’s time to enter the 21st Century and digitize. Scan the documents (and photos) and save them to your hard-drive to become a paperless home. Then shred and recycle. These days certain scanners and software will even sort and label your documents for tax purposes. How great is that?
Now that you’ve gotten rid of all the stuff, it’s time to get organized with the items you’ve decided to keep. Get creative with a colored labeling system – plastic bins, pantry jars, and markers will make all the difference in the world in terms of creating a system.
- Tip: Organize each space with identically sized containers. This will help you keep things stacked and exactly in order.
You’re rocking and rolling. It’s time to keep it up and stay “stuff free” and neat and tidy. Don’t get caught up in the detrimental trap of “stuffitis.”
It’s time to create a set of rules for yourself.
- Sleep on it. Give yourself at least 48 hours to determine if you really, really need something new. Often times we get caught up on the idea of new things and make impulse purchases. We get that spending high. However, if we really consider it after a day or two, nine times out of ten, we’ll skip it and save both money and our newly de-cluttered space.
- In with the new, out with the old. If you decide to buy something new, swap it out for something old. For example, if you determine you really need that new blouse, donate one you no longer wear frequently. Same goes for that new pair of boots you’ve been coveting!
- Set an expiration date. As you’re labeling your items in the organizational phase, begin to set expiration dates on things you haven’t used in a while. A month, for the most part, is a good rule of thumb. Even though you may love those virtual reality goggles you received to fit with your mobile phone last Christmas, if you aren’t using them at least once a month, send them someone else’s way.
Great job! You’ve done it. You’re now living in a clutter-free home.
It feels great to downsize, clean, and let go.
Make sure you take all the steps to keep your sanctuary neat and tidy.