My Top 5 Decluttering Tips

     Image:Adapted from Pixabay

Decluttering has become a buzz word in recent years. There are courses, books, YouTube videos and blogs devoted to the benefits of decluttering. There are promises it will change your life and result in less stress, more time and a sense of freedom. Yes, decluttering has improved my life but it is a very personal thing. What works for me at this point in time may not work for someone else and wouldn't even have worked for me in the past.

Setting up house
When I set up my first home (in 1975) I didn't own much so I accepted anything I was offered. But people didn't acquire so much back then so they didn't hand it on as readily as many do now. You certainly never saw things on the verge outside a house with a sign, 'Free. Please take.'

There weren't many op shops, no garage sales, no Ebay, Gumtree or Freecycle. Yes, there were a few second hand shops and sometimes pre used goods were advertised in newspapers. (I don't think anyone used the term 'pre-loved' back then.)

There weren't the bargain shops selling new flat pack furniture, crockery, heaps of knick knacks, inexpensive pictures and the like.

Holding onto things
I got into the habit of holding onto what I had and looking for ways to acquire more. 

One of the things that accumulated in my house was books. I loved my books and even though I would never reread many of them I held onto them protectively. I remember being so excited because a friend gave me 2 boxes of books when she moved house. Okay, truth is, I didn't read many of them. Some years later I was horrified when my husband suggested I get rid of some of my books.

I still love books but my house isn't full of books I will never read.                  Image:Pixabay

As time passed, consumerism became a stronger force. What you owned defined you. More was better. Advertising brainwashed us into thinking we needed the latest gizmo.
I accumulated all sorts of things that
  • I might use one day
  • perhaps I would need again
  • had been given to me by someone special
  • someone had hand made
  • could be made into something one day
  • were still in good condition
  • would be useful if the other one broke or got lost
  • I just kept without thinking about

Decluttering becomes the fashion
Then decluttering became the 'in thing' and I started to actually think about all the stuff I had accumulated over several decades. I gradually realised I didn't need a lot of those things and started to part with them. It happened bit by bit and is still happening today. These days I don't buy as much but I do enjoy a trip to the op shop.

Decluttering tips
If you asked me for my top 5 tips about decluttering I would say -
  1. Work out what is truly important to you now and keep things that reflect this.
  2. Don't hold onto things out of guilt. I am still working on this one as I find I feel guilty about giving away things given to me by someone close to me.
  3. Approach it in a way that works for you. If you want to get rid of one item a day each day this year, do it that way. Maybe sorting and decluttering one shelf or drawer at a time works for you. Perhaps you would rather dive head first into the task and keep at it until it's done. (Be warned if you have been accumulating things for years, this may be a stressful way of doing it.)
  4. Once you have decluttered get those things out of your home (no, don't stack them in the shed for months/years). Decide if the best way is a garage sale, Gumtree or donating things to friends or charity. If something is rubbish, put it in the bin, don't burden a charity with unsaleable items.
  5. Don't accumulate new clutter just because you have parted with stuff.

There are people who claim to be happy living with a very limited number of possessions, perhaps one hundred or less. That isn't me, but it may suit someone else. I have things I absolutely love and that bring me joy. Other things are so useful and make life easier. I think everyone has to find what suits them and do that, whether we are talking decluttering or anything else.


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