The decluttering trend is here to stay. In an age of overconsumption and rising climate change concerns, a growing number of people are paring down on clutter as part of a larger move to low-waste living and a more sustainable lifestyle. Of course, the environment isn’t the only thing driving our need for tidy spaces and minimal living. With more research showing the negative impact of clutter on our mental well-being, many of us are looking for easy ways to cut back on “stuff” in order to lower stress levels in an increasingly anxious time.
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Whether you’re motivated by a desire to be more sustainable, or you’re trying to gain control over your stress, you may be wondering how to declutter your life without feeling completely overwhelmed in the process. Here’s a simple guide on how to tackle the overabundance of possessions in every part of your life and move more towards Zen.
- Focus on one area that feels achievable.
Be realistic about your decluttering and organizational goals. Unless you have superpowers, there’s simply no way you’re going to finish cleaning out your home or apartment in one day. Start simple by focusing on a single area in your home — like a junk drawer, for example — and work your way up to the big stuff.
- Sort your items into five boxes: keep, donate, maybe, recycle and trash.
These categories may seem straightforward enough, but we’ll quickly break them down anyway:
- Keep: This includes things you want to keep or relocate to another room.
- Donate: If you have perfectly good items that you no longer want to keep, don’t throw them away — donate them and give them a second life!
- Maybe: This box includes items that you haven’t decided whether you want to keep or not. Instead of putting these items back where you’ll forget about them, put them in a box located in a high-traffic room until you’ve made a decision.
- Recycle: The recycle box includes regular recycling and items that need to be recycled in a specific way, such as batteries, unwanted electronics and prescription eyeglasses.
- Trash: If the item in question is damaged beyond repair and can’t be donated, upcycled, or recycled, toss it in the trash.
- Swap out single-use items with reusable versions.
Single-use items such as plastic bags, paper towels and beauty products not only leave a trail of waste in their wake, but they also contribute to a messy home. Think about it — how much space are your plastic bags taking up underneath your kitchen sink? If you aren’t using them, be sure not to just throw them away. Most grocery stores offer recycling for clean plastic bags!
To cut down on clutter, look for reusable versions of items that you frequently use. For example, if you use disposable cotton rounds in your beauty routine, consider swapping them out with reusable cotton rounds made from bamboo. Simple swaps such as these not only reduce the amount of clutter in your home, but they can also save you money in the long run.
- Adopt a capsule closet.
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Let’s face it — no one enjoys decluttering their closet. You may enjoy the victorious feeling that comes from ridding your closet of unwanted clothing, but it can be time-consuming and downright exhausting. Needless to say, you want to keep your closet as organized as possible so that you don’t need to declutter it again for years to come.
Enter: the idea of the capsule wardrobe. A downscaled wardrobe made up of versatile pieces, a capsule wardrobe is guaranteed to keep your closet stylish and clutter-free. Start your own by paring down your closet to 37 items or less and wearing only those items until the next season.
- Go digital.
Raise your hand if you have stacks of bills, junk mail and other unwanted paper items on the counter. If you raised your hand, try to find ways to go paperless. First, see if you can sign up for electronic statements from your bank and cable company. To reduce paper junk mail from companies, log into your account and ask them to stop sending you promotions. You can also consider using PaperKarma, which is an app that helps you opt out of junk mail – it does all the work for you.
- Turn your home into a relaxing retreat.
Once you’ve decluttered different rooms in your home, you can add a few touches to make them feel more relaxing. Give your bedroom a fresh look by introducing some greenery. Add a DIY pegboard to your entryway so you can easily hang bags, pet leashes and other accessories. Give your bathroom space a smart makeover by upgrading to sustainable bathroom products and adding some eye-catching art. Small but meaningful tweaks to your home can make you feel happier and less stressed.
- Invest in organizational storage for your workspace.
Buying organizational storage for your workspace may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it can go a long way in making you feel less stressed and more productive. Your organizational system doesn’t need to be complicated, either. A simple pencil cup, vertical wall shelves, a pegboard, and colorful storage boxes can make your space look neat while fueling your motivation to knock out your to-do list.
- Don’t forget to declutter your mental space.
There’s no doubt that physical clutter is a drain on our mental health. But what about the less tangible clutter that involves our list of chores, work deadlines, errands, and other responsibilities? If you’re constantly stressed out by all the things you’ve got to do, it’s time to take a step back and realize that it’s okay to let someone else take the reins. Take care of yourself first, and you’ll be in a better position to take care of others when they need your help. Take some time to reset with meditation or do something you love, like knitting or reading.
- Turn Your Decluttering Efforts into a Ritual
Decluttering your home and life isn’t an overnight process, so try to avoid putting any unnecessary pressure on yourself to get it done quickly. Instead, make the process more enjoyable by turning it into “me time.” Pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine, play some calming music, and be proud of yourself for taking that first step towards a happier, clutter-free life.