Declutter Your Life: Where to Start

Declutter Your Life: Where to Start

If Marie Kondo’s ‘spark joy’ approach feels a bit too daunting and the whole notion of decluttering your life seems like an abstract concept, you’re not alone.

The thought of transforming your space into a minimalist oasis often feels like an overwhelming task.

However, decluttering is a hugely rewarding and necessary process – the physical act can create mental space, reduce anxiety, and provide a literal breath of fresh air.

Here’s the good news: decluttering is as much a gradual lifestyle change as it is a one-time event.

And, much like the parable of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.

Let’s break down some simple yet effective steps to declutter your life that you can start implementing today to begin your decluttering adventure, even if your house currently looks like an explosion in a storage unit.

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Step One: Make a ‘Why’ List

Before you even touch a single item in your home, grab a piece of paper and jot down your ‘why.’

Understanding your motivation provides the foundation for your decluttering efforts.

Are you hoping for a more serene environment? Is productivity suffering due to a messy workspace?

Or perhaps you’re moving, and the impending change spurs the desire to start fresh.

The reasons are as unique as you are, so take some time to really think about what you want to achieve.

Once you have your list, place it somewhere noticeable.

Your ‘why’ will act as a compass guiding you through the moments of doubt when you’re faced with that ‘should I keep it or not?’ dilemma.

Step Two: Start with the Little Everyday Decisions

Take the pressure off and begin by making small, everyday decluttering decisions.

It can be as simple as clearing off your kitchen counter or desktop.

Focus on areas that are high-traffic; these tend to collect the most random objects and visual noise.

In these stages, you’re not doing a deep clean or tossing half your belongings.

You’re training your decision-making muscle, which, much like a regular gym visit, will get stronger with time and practice.

The more you do it, the easier it becomes to tackle more significant areas.

Step Three: The Three-Box Technique

Once you’re comfortable with daily mini purges, it’s time to start sorting.

The Three-Box technique is a classic method that simplifies decision making.

Label three boxes ‘Keep,’ ‘Donate,’ and ‘Discard.’ You could also use ‘Maybe’ as a reject box to re-evaluate before making final decisions.

The trick here is to keep moving.

Touch each item once.

If it’s not a definite keep, decide if it’s something you could donate or if it’s trash. Don’t overthink it.

Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection.

Step Four: One Room at a Time

Focus on one room or one type of item at a time.

This concentration will give you a clear sense of accomplishment and prevent you from feeling like you’re running in circles—perhaps start with a closet or even by organizing your email inbox.

Consider setting a timer for 15-20 minutes and decluttering without stopping until it dings.

The momentum and time frame will keep you from getting bogged down and spending too much time on any one decision.

Step Five: The 90-Day Rule

To avoid indecision about certain items, implement the 90-Day rule.

If you haven’t used it, worn it, or even noticed it in the last 90 days, it’s likely you can part with it.

This is especially useful for clothes and kitchen gadgets which often acquire sentimental value or the illusion of ‘someday’ usage.

Of course, seasonal items might not pass this test, and that’s okay. But the rule serves as a preventative measure against hoarding.

Step Six: Digital Decluttering

Don’t forget about your digital life. Just as physical spaces can become crowded, so can our digital environments.

Start with your most used device and work through your applications, downloads, and files.

Remember to unsubscribe from newsletters and services that no longer serve you.

Clean up your desktop and folders, and, if you’re feeling ambitious, sort through your photos and email archives.

Clearing digital clutter can be immensely satisfying and make your devices feel brand new.

Step Seven: Maintenance is Key

Decluttering is not a one-and-done activity. It’s a habit to maintain.

Once you’ve completed a space, make it a goal to do a quick scan through it once a week.

It will take less than 10 minutes to keep an area organized if you stay on top of it.

This could simply be putting items back where they belong after you use them.

Keeping up with maintenance stops clutter from reaching the overwhelming stage again.

Step Eight: Mind Over Matter

It’s important to remember that decluttering is a physical task with mental and emotional components.

It’s natural to feel attached to belongings, and it’s okay to experience a wide range of emotions as you declutter.

Be gentle with yourself.

You’re challenging years of habits and often, societal pressures. Keep referring back to your ‘why’ list and be proud of each step, no matter how small it may seem.

The benefits of a decluttered life are worth it, and you’re well on your way!

Decluttering is not about achieving a picture-perfect, Instagram-worthy home.

It’s about creating a supportive environment where you can focus on the things and people that truly matter.

By taking these simple steps, you’re not just cleaning up your physical space; you’re making room for a more fulfilling life.

Happy Decluttering!

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